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When have you been on a team project that failed? What did you learn from that experience?

1 of 25 Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on June 29th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

We all experience perceived fails in our career. Failure is nothing to be embarrassed about so do not hesitate to describe a failure you've experienced in the past. The key to a great answer is to include how you learned from that failure, and how you improved your work performance after learning from the crash. Try to keep your example non-critical; for instance, avoid telling the interviewer how your team forgot to order new inventory, and it cost your company $15,000 in lost sales. Avoid blaming any particular person and instead, use words like 'we' and 'team' to describe the situation. Finally, be sure to tell the interviewer that, while you were very disappointed in the group's failure, you took the opportunity to learn from the experience.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"Our team was recently on a project with a very tight deadline. We knew the client and their needs very well which I believe made us go into the project overconfident. Because we underestimated the work involved, we missed our deadline by three business days. Thankfully we had a great relationship with that particular client, so we were able to recover from the missed deadline. Although it was late, we worked overtime and delivered an exceptional project, in the end. This experience taught me never to underestimate a project and the potential roadblocks. It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver, rather than the other way around."

Answer example

"In University, we had a group project that failed horribly. We could not seem to organize our schedules at all, and so, when we brought all of the components together, it was a complete flop. I learned shortly after about some project management apps that could have helped. Also, we could have utilized other resources like Skype. This experience taught me never to think small, and that there is always a solution - you have to look for it."

Answer example

"In my current position, our team was given a new client who needed us to recruit five employees. They were very specialized roles, and the client was not open to candidates who needed relocation assistance. Our competitor ended up finding the right candidates before we could. It was disappointing, and I believe that we failed because we were looking too much at the roadblocks rather than thinking creatively. We learned from our mistake and our team was more aggressive with our next project."

Answer example

"I once worked for a startup marketing agency that bit off more than it could chew after acquiring a huge client. We had to learn a lot of solutions on the fly, which caused a great deal of stress amongst the team, which was primarily made up of junior marketers, and new hires. Nobody had the seniority or tenure to feel confident taking control of the situation. What I learned from this experience is that every project should have a wide range of people present, with varying levels of experience and expertise."

Answer example

"Our store came up with a unique window display that we all thought was cool. After having the display up for a couple of days, we started receiving complaints that the message was misogynistic and insensitive. Once our team took a step back and considered the feedback, we could see what others were seeing. What I learned at that moment was that, before finalizing a project, it's important to take a step back from it and dissect it for potential problems."

Answer example

"Our company recently launched a software solution for our clients that was too early-stage and should have gone through further testing. We were all so excited about the project, and created so much hype with our clients, that our excitement caused us to get ahead of ourselves. What I learned was that, no matter how exciting, a business always needs to remain level-headed and pragmatic."

Answer example

"We recently had a school play go awry. The faculty wanted to put on a winter performance for the parents, and we tried to make it too comprehensive and eventful. What we should have done was focus on a couple of entertaining aspects and kept the rest simple. The kids were overwhelmed and confused, as were the teachers and attendees! We all vowed to keep it simple for the following year."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 02/02/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

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When have you been on a team project that failed? What did you learn from that experience?
Failing is never good, but learning from your mistake should help on other projects.
I try to stand up and solve the problem.
Failure in project, task is always disappointing because it affect business. However project get failed . Minimise impact on the business, take note of reason why task / project is failed and learn from the failure.
I'm the type that says well get email next time. But still a little disappointed.
Communication at work. Last minute situation. We pulled together and made it work.
If it was my fault I will admit it and put it right and apologies to my team.
I thank we did not work hard.
Being on a New Group project, over 500 plus new applicates. I was just upfront with the sale rep to them them know with notice that the group would not be complete on time like hoped.
Whilst working at Royal Mail we had targets to clear the mail but at times we failed these targets. I reacted that we would try harder not to fail our set targets next time.
I hope fail to succes in one of the project you work in is the starting good journey to next project, that had good plans, objectives, strategies and goals . Therefore, my failure in the first project was the grass root to best plans, objectives, strategies, and goals as falling to plan is planning to fail.
I have never been on a team project where I have failed.
If happen, we talk where we failed and start over again if possible.
I have never been on a team project that failed but I take failure as a challenge to perfect next time.
Asked questions so it didn't happen again.
Once we have to build a fish latter and it took lots of time before we got it right. I want to keep trying until we got it right.
There was this one time we had to reach a sale goal and we failed we were disappointed but that made us looked back and think about new ways we can improve to reach it.
The high school culture group performed at a school dinner. The end result, it was less than expected which was a failed attempt at that. I accepted the failure as an attempt at success. The journey to that point was something learnt, and from this I realised the underutilised tool of self-reflecting but also the importance communication and seeking support and guidance where possible. Not just when needing help.
Did not meet our goal for sales. We put ourh ads together came up with ideas on how to improve. Get everyone involved.
I'm sorry guys for my faulty doing,
There was a time at my current job when we had to insert 5,000 pieces, but the project did not go well. I was disappointed, but hopeful because we had to reopen everything and start over. The project ended up going out on time.
Wanting to know why and find the rooot casue.
I was very disappointed but I have make an extra research on how did it fail.
Find the reason that has failed the team and find resolutions to become a winning team always... Never neglect them or sound negative.
It happens a few time in the previous project that I'm involved in. We have to sit down together and discuss to find a solution. At the end of the day it all when well.
I like to look back on all results and evaluate what areas allowed for great results and also where elements could have been improved. I believe in every situation you are given the opportunity to learn, even if viewed as a failure by understanding why the original target was but met you are sure to overcome it on your next project.
It was a very busy day so me and my CO Worker were making sandwiches and salads. There was so many orders and she asked for my help. We made the sandwiches and messed them up. Did the complete opposite but we laughed. It's nothing to get upset over because it happens, things get crazy and then we made the correct sandwiches.
Try again until we succeed.
Trying our best is motto, failures comes and goes. Focus on the next to give best.
To take lesson learning in the future.
Nothing comes to mind but I'd handle any failure with positivity to see why we failed and what either I or the team can do to improve.
Positive about the coming one.
I haven't exactly been on a team project that had a failed outcome ultimately but there was a project in which our draft has been rejected by the professor. Despite being dejected, we quickly reorganised our thought process, reviewed possible reasons of failure and came up with another procedure that was accepted by our professor.
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