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Describe to me a time when you made an error at work, and the impact your mistake made. How did you correct the mistake, and what did you learn from it?

23 Answer Examples
How to Answer

Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. The interviewer knows that too and is asking this question to see how you handle situations when you make mistakes. Give an example that demonstrates how you took responsibility for your error and fixed it. Also, what you learned from the experience as a result. Sometimes learning from our mistakes allows us to gain some valuable tools.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

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Admin
Answer example

"Last month I made a financial accounts error where 4 of our vendors ended up not being paid on time. Our company faced some large fees for overdue payments. I stayed overtime that week to call each vendor personally. I owned up to the situation, explained the error, and negotiated the fees down. I learned from that error and have been conscious to not rush through my work since then."

Manager
Answer example

"I am certainly not perfect all the time, and that was obvious the day that I terminated the wrong temporary employee. We had one temp who was reportedly late three days in a row. My shift lead gave me the incorrect name, so when I called the agency to tell them to fire the temp, we had the wrong one. It was a mess. I ended up calling the agency, correcting the error, and hiring back the initially terminated temp worker. This lesson taught me to always double check data before acting on anything."

Marketing
Answer example

"I recently created a Facebook ad strategy for a client who didn't even request one. It was a colossal waste of time simply because I didn't double check my files before starting the project. To fix the error, I let the client know that I created this strategy in error and would provide it to them at half off the regular price. This way, the work wasn't a total wash, and the client received added value. Luckily they agreed! I double check my clients' needs now, before starting on their projects."

Retail
Answer example

"My first month in charge of making the scheduling decisions went quite well, so I applied that same logic to the second month of scheduling. The problem was, I was so busy replicating my previous success that I forgot to account for school being out by the third week in the month, meaning an increased traffic flow and need for more associates during the weekdays. Honestly, it was a complete oversight and complacency. I thought I was so diligent by following a 'proven' formula, but I didn't take into account that things change from week to week. Because of this, we were short of two employees each shift. By the second day, my staff was feeling it, and I couldn't cover everyone's shifts, so I got creative and asked to borrow some employees from slower departments for an hour or two at a time while calling in favors with my staff to cover upcoming shifts. Luckily, we were able to piecemeal it together, but it was a learning experience. Since then, I have been sure to follow a formula for scheduling, while carefully highlighting any significant holidays, upcoming sales, days off of school, or other goings-on in the mall that could impact our traffic and have been much better prepared."

Sales
Answer example

"I was slated to demonstrate our new technology in beta and gain feedback from the client on how it could be improved. I was cutting it close for the appointment from the airport, so when I got there, I was frazzled and did not have adequate time to set up, couldn't access their network, etc. Due to this, the presentation was not as smooth as I would have hoped and I honestly I didn't get the feedback I could have if I'd have been able to do the proper setup. I apologized not only to the client but also to the tech team for not gathering the appropriate information we'd targeted. As a result of this, I made sure to practice the techniques and bring all of the necessary gadgets, including a hotspot and a small projector. That way, no matter what their network or supplies looked like, and no matter what room I was in, I could give the best presentation possible. It was an exercise in humility, and I learned a lot in the process."

Teacher
Answer example

"When I was in my first teaching job out of college, I spoke to a parent out of concern for their child but didn't go through the proper protocol or correct channel, so when the parent became upset, the situation became awkward. Since I didn't take up my concern through the Principal, I was in a precarious position. I certainly learned that even though I mean well, protocols exist for a reason and by going outside of those channels, I put myself, the family, and the child in an uncomfortable situation. I certainly learned to follow the protocols, even if they sometimes seem silly or constricting."

Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers
Answer example

"When I was starting out, I once cut besom pockets instead of patch pockets for a suit jacket. I told my boss what I did wrong. He wasn't happy, of course. I told him what went wrong: I was working too quickly and misread the order form. I asked him for more training on the order form. A few weeks later, we changed the order form to be more clear based on my recommendations."

Radiology
Answer example

"Earlier in my Radiology career I made a perceptual error while reading an x-ray. It lead to a delayed cancer diagnosis which was very difficult for me to come to terms with. I owned up to the error immediately and made sure to study additional cases that were similar in order to ensure the mistake didn't happen again."

event planner
Answer example

"I was scheduling travel and accommodations while working with one of my first event companies. I had a pretty good system until one of the schedulers was fired, so I took over her responsibilities while we looked for a replacement. Looking back I think I was a little overly confident and felt like I had something to prove. I ended up making a couple simple mistakes that almost caused some bigger problems. My boss caught these errors and confronted me. I learned that it is better to ask for help than to take on more than you can handle. I learned more about my limitations and how to handle stress by communicating what I need to my team."

Nursing
Answer example

"In my last position, I was responsible for making the schedule for all of our RN's and LPN's. Managing a schedule for 30 providers can be a bit of a task in order to work everyone appropriately and take into account people's requests, leave and labor laws. I had accidentally shorted our night shift an LPN and they had an influx of patients that night. Our healthcare didn't waiver but I put undue stress on the staff that night. After this situation, I decided to run the schedule by one other RN for their second set of eyes to ensure it didn't happen again."

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Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is an executive head-hunter and job search expert. Utilized by top executives from Fortune 100 & 500 companies like Fitbit, Microsoft, General Electric, Nestle, and more, she helps professionals position themselves in a competitive marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume, a company that focuses on helping job seekers get their edge back. Renovate My Resume creates stand-out resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and professional summaries for new grads, all the way to corporate executives. Rachelle spends much of her time training career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers. She also holds interview workshops for students and interns, globally. For great tips and tricks, follow Rachelle on Instagram @_rachelle_e or @renovatemyresume.
First written on: 08/29/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

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