By Indeed Editorial Team
Published December 14, 2021
Related: What to Do When You Can’t Answer an Interview Question
In this video, we offer 4 key strategies to answering tough questions. These strategies come with examples, explanations and more on leaving a last impression.
Being prepared to answer challenging questions in an interview can help you represent yourself well and show prospective employers your values, personality and commitment to professionalism. One question you might hear in an interview is "Are you willing to fail?" Learning to frame your answer positively can show interviewers you're a mature candidate who wants to grow and develop in a role. In this article, we explain why an interviewer might ask if you're willing to fail, list steps you can use to deliver a successful answer and provide several example answers you can use for reference.
There are a few reasons a prospective employer might ask you this question in an interview. Learning how you respond to setbacks and obstacles can tell them a lot about your personality and work style. Here are some insights employers might be looking for when asking this question:
When something doesn't go according to plan like if an idea doesn't produce the desired results or you aren't able to complete something in the time frame you thought you could, you can respond in two ways. The first way is to feel embarrassed or to accept the defeat as a personal failure. The second way is to learn from your mistakes and use your newfound experience as motivation for your future efforts.
Those who can persevere in the face of obstacles, who can learn from failures and who see those failures as opportunities rather than setbacks can often find more success and satisfaction in their work.
Related: How To Deal With Failure: 15 Steps to Success
Failure is a normal occurrence. While it's important to reduce failures and keep from making repeat mistakes, it's also important to acknowledge that not everything can go according to plan all the time. When employers ask if you're willing to fail, they're also asking you to acknowledge that you have failed previously and learned from those experiences.
Risk accompanies most great ideas and failure is always a possibility when trying something new. The ability to remain innovative, tenacious and focused despite these risks can make you a more valuable team member and employee.
When something goes wrong or if you make a mistake, it's important to take responsibility. Those who are willing to fail are typically more able to admit their missteps without fear of embarrassment or repercussions. Often, this confidence comes from a workplace's culture but it can also derive from the accountability and integrity of an individual. Employers might ask this question because they want to learn if you can accept when plans go awry and respond appropriately.
Related: 8 Steps To Overcome Failure (With Resilience-Building Tips)
Here are some steps you can follow if you hear this question in an interview:
Before you start preparing your answer to the question, take a moment to think about times in your life when you've experienced setbacks. Think about how you responded and what you learned. By recognizing the important role failure has played in your life, you can start to embrace failure as a learning experience rather than as a reflection of your worth. What's more important than never failing is reacting maturely to failure when it occurs.
With your reflections in mind, think about how past failures have affected you. Consider if you think those experiences were valuable to your development. If you think of good examples, you can even mention them in your interview.
With potentially negative questions, it's important to build your interviewer's faith in your attitude and ability to overcome setbacks. In your answer, try to keep your answer positive and focused on overcoming failure. Talk about the benefits of failing like how it helps you learn, how it creates opportunities for even better ideas and how it challenges you to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions. Speaking this way lets interviewers know you're positive and motivated and that you see obstacles as opportunities to improve and succeed.
Related: Interview Question: "What Is Your Biggest Failure?"
Here are some example answers to "Are you willing to fail?" that can help you design effective answers of your own:
"Yes, I am willing to fail, though I certainly hope to avoid it wherever I can. I think failure is an important aspect of professional development. If an idea or execution is going to fail, I try to ensure it fails early so there are smaller consequences. That way, I can adapt my plans or campaigns and learn from past iterations. I try to incorporate lots of opportunities for feedback, surveys and beta tests into my campaigns to learn how they might fare on a large scale. Successful marketing can mean taking risks and I embrace those risks as part of the process."
Related: Why Failing at Success Can Be Good for Your Career
"I define failure as giving up so in that sense, no, I'm not willing to fail. But I am willing to learn and grow as a professional in this position. I pride myself on being a positive person who can find the good in any situation. I'm ready to take on a role that challenges me. From what I've read about the company and from what I've learned about your processes, I think this is a supportive community where individuals can learn from their mistakes and use them to develop professionally."
"I try my very best to provide my clients with support, useful advice and be someone in the industry they can trust. While it may take some time to connect families and individuals to their dream homes, I'm willing to fail along the way if it means we can ultimately achieve something powerful together. I don't take setbacks personally. Instead, I review what happened and work to ensure I don't make the same missteps in the future.
To me, failure would mean behaving in a way that didn't represent me or this company. I always take responsibility for my actions if I act in a way that doesn't make me proud."