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What is your biggest regret?

1 of 30 Tough Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on January 22nd, 2019 | 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

Think about a time you failed, or made a big mistake. What would you change about that situation, if you have an opportunity for a re-do? Perhaps there is a missed opportunity that you still regret not taking. This question sounds more intimidating than it is. Even though the interviewer is asking about your most significant regret, you indeed don't have to share the worst mistake you have ever made in your life. Make sure that you keep your answer professional and career-related.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"I had an opportunity to study under one of the top personal trainers in the country, but I was so busy with my clients that I didn't take the chance. Looking back, I know I could have learned so much from them. Now I pay much closer attention to educational or training opportunities that come my way."

Admin
Answer example

"I do not believe in living life with regrets; however, if there is one thing I could change about my career path, I would have completed my business administration degree before entering the workforce. It's ten times as tough to complete my education now that I am taking online courses on the weekends! I do look forward to finishing what I started, though! My estimated completion date is this April."

Manager
Answer example

"I am of the belief that it live is meant to be lived without regrets. Does that mean you don't fail or learn from mistakes? Not at all. We all make choices in life, and we should embrace them, and adapt when we want to change course. JK Rowling has a great quote that comes to mind when asked about regrets. She says, 'Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.' That sums out how I feel about failure and regrets."

Marketing
Answer example

"I feel pretty fortunate that I don't have many regrets, but I'd say the one that would nag at me most would be that I didn't leap into marketing sooner. I think my career would be on an even better trajectory if I'd jumped about six months earlier. However, I am where I am today because of the decisions I made, and I feel great about where I am today and the prospect of working here!"

Retail
Answer example

"The most significant regret I have would be not advocating for myself early on in my career. I believe I was passed up for two promotions that I deserved because I was too concerned with being friendly and likable. I missed out on opportunities to advocate how I was the best for the position because I didn't want to ruffle any feathers or be unlikable. Luckily, I've learned quite a bit since, and I've earned plenty of promotions since, however, I sometimes wonder where my career might be if I would have received those promotions early on. Nevertheless, I know I've learned plenty from those experiences of being passed over."

Sales
Answer example

"The most prominent regret I have is with my most recent career move. Despite doing my due diligence, and working with an experienced headhunter, the role was not what it was supposed to be, and the company was in complete disarray. Despite this misstep, I did learn a lot over the past year. I stuck it out, adapted to the changes, and have made the best of it, despite the bait-and-switch and multiple leadership changes. I honestly don't know what I could have done differently, besides not taking the position. Because of that, I feel that it was put in my path as a learning moment and to test my resilience. I feel as though I've passed the test and it is time for the next opportunity."

Teacher
Answer example

"My biggest career-related regret is my choice to enter the private school sector before entering the public school sector. I found a home, and a new passion for teaching, once I began working in the public school system. I wish I had chosen this path all along!"

Addiction Nurse
Answer example

"I believe acting calmly and speaking rationally is a great way to calm someone who is angry and I try to be the voice of reason without making someone feel that I am belittling them."

Medical Transcriptionist
Answer example

"I do have experience working with electronic health records. While different facilities may use different types of EHRs, overall programs are very similar. I have to say that I do like the fact that we can now use EHRs to store patient information. It makes it much easier to retrieve information and transmit it, when needed."

Substance Abuse Counselor
Answer example

"One of my psychology 201 exams didn't go as planned. It forced me to re-evaluate my study habits which improved my test scores."

Corporate Copywriter
Answer example

"I have regretted taking a low level position when I knew I deserved a better position in a company. However, I have learned to value myself higher and shoot higher so I do not have that feeling again."

Audio Engineer
Answer example

"My biggest disappointment is when speakers or anchors speak out of turn and I clip the beginning part of their speaking. However, this is something that I will over time have to be better at anticipating."

Art Director
Answer example

"In my last role, I was working on a Parisian magazine and had to manage two local and two international graphic designers. Due to the difference in culture and work styles, there were a lot of communication gaps. As an art director, I had to step in and hold regular meetings so that each designer could discuss daily progress and deadlines so that we could resolve issues even before things got heated. This project was disappointing to me because I had to micromanage my team and that is not my managerial style - however, I did learn that once people get to know each other and start working together, it is smooth sailing!"

Sous Chef
Answer example

"The biggest disappointment that I faced as a sous chef was when the fine dining restaurant that I worked at a few years ago, closed down. I really loved that job and the cuisine was incredible. Unfortunately, the economy wasn't strong enough to generate enough clientele for a fine dining establishment."

Addiction Counselor
Answer example

"Being understanding is key to working with any client. With someone fighting addiction, it is especially important. When someone with a substance abuse addiction comes for treatment, it is not always because they want to. Whether it is court-ordered or the family gives an ultimatum, many of them come in unwilling. However, there are times that, even if they come to us with some resistance, with support and encouragement, they begin to see some hope of what life can be like if they are drug free. Knowing this information, I always try to be sympathetic to their fears, but also offer them a look at what they can accomplish if they overcome their addictions. Confrontation never works; so, if someone tells me they are not going to stop using, I tell them it is their right, but while they are with me, we still have to address what could result with continued use and the possibility of what life could be like without drugs."

Bacteriology Technician
Answer example

"I have had many disappointments, like most people, but I believe that we learn from all the experiences we have in life and that the disappointments, as well as the accomplishments, make us stronger and better able to deal with many different situations."

Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Answer example

"

News Researcher
Answer example

"I once took a job as a cook in a restaurant but realized I did not like the late hours at night. I find that I work best in the morning, and I hope this makes me a good fit as a morning side researcher or a day side one."

Allergist
Answer example

"My biggest disappointment comes when I am unable to alleviate someone's symptoms as much as I want to. I truly wish that it was always a happy ending for everyone that sees me. I am able to focus on the positive, however; realizing that I am able to help the majority of people I come across."

Production Director
Answer example

"I regret taking a position in college as an on-air talent. I find that I am best behind the scenes, instead of directly in the production. While I am glad I learned what it is like to be talent in the production, which helps me to relate to them, I probably embarrassed myself on stage and I much prefer being behind the curtain."

Underwriter
Answer example

"I have always worked hard in my whole career for ensuring that we get the best clients for our organization but this one time I was really disappointed when we lost one of our big accounts to a competitor because they got a better deal with them. This took me by surprise as this was a really old account and they always used to renew with us only. Although this deeply saddened me but I decided that instead of being sad about losing this one, I would rather focus on bringing changes in our strategy and focusing on getting some new clients. As a result of our efforts we were able to acquire some big accounts and since then we have always ensured to review our strategy on a regular basis to see if there is any scope for improvement."

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.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 01/22/2019

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