During the interview process, there are a lot of questions asked – some easy, some hard. Generally, the interviewing personnel are attempting to grasp an idea of your personality as it relates to the job culture: why should we choose you over the other candidates? Explain a situation when you were faced with a tight deadline to complete a task? What are your biggest accomplishments? Explain a time you failed? It is not particularly your answer that will influence their decisions but rather how you implemented problem resolution. It is not what you accomplished, but how you accomplished it. Your response has a lot to do with your character. For example, if you work in customer service, you do not want to explain how a customer got upset and you put that customer in their place! You want to explain how you listen and communicated a sound response that benefited both the company and ultimately the customer. As long as you have the backing of a solid reference (manager, supervisor, or peer) you don’t have to tell on yourself. You are entering a new career or a new job (fresh start).
Lets talk about why you should be chosen over other candidates. From your work experience, figure out that one response that will be different from the other candidates. Typically individuals will respond with: I expertly manage my time better than the average employee to finish work tasks/projects, I am honest and I will not let the company down, I never miss a deadline, or, I am a great leader. These are common and expected; doesn’t really separate you from the rest. Consider: I am a great follower (if you are in a non-management/non-supervisor position). Although we push leadership, not everyone can be a leader – be realistic and actually imagine a work environment where everyone is a leader, imagine the type of conflict that comes along with that. Also, great leaders like great followers who can deliver. Everyone misses deadlines or accomplishes tasks at the last minute, don’t fight with it! Consider this as well: I can fit well in any work culture and adapt to any work-pace. That is what you are being interviewed for actually; employers want to see if you are a great fit. Not only are you qualified but also you work well within the work environment and you can adapt to slow/fast pace work settings. That is just the nature of the beast, not all jobs are fast, fast, fast…. some operational procedures require you to wait on the work from others, create work orders during a certain time/schedule, or it may require you to produce results immediately. In either case, you stated you could fit well in any work culture and adapt to any pace.
When answering a question about your accomplishments and failures, you don’t want to come off as arrogant or act like you never failed but you want to be honest as well. If you never failed at a work task then state that, with your accomplishments – you want to state something that directly relates to the position of interest. When talking about a failure (if you ever failed) you want to state your failure then offer a solution: how did you get past it? How did you overcome the failure and benefit the company? Did you learn from the failure? This is what the interviewer is looking for, “can you bounce back and work from setbacks” – no one is perfect. For example, when I first started my job over 4 years ago, I would input information into the records system as I remembered occurrences but I was supposed to input data in chronological order according to the time of each occurrence (not according to my memory); after it was brought to my attention, I identified my failure and reorganized the data in accordance with company procedures and contacted a supervisor for review and everything went well from that point (keep it simple so the interviewer doesn’t dig further).
In short, you want to avoid major errors in your work, show that you are willing to push yourself and learn from failures, and you want to make your accomplishments clear without arrogantly showing you are the “end all” for the position – but rather a great fit for the job. Interviewers want to recognize that you are a versatile employee who is willing to grow within the organization.