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to not like this interview question?

(174 Posts)
rockabye Sun 02-Apr-17 14:39:24

I've name changed for this as it may be outing. If anyone recognises me please do not out me in RL. And please everyone be kind.

I recently had a job interview for my current company. Its a promotion and I didn't get it. I'm obviously upset but I accept the result.

I'm uncomfortable however with one of the questions I was asked and I'm not sure what to do.

The question was "when have you ever failed at something in your work or at home and how did you deal with that?"

This upset me as I have suffered depression, had marital problems and had bereavements all in the past year. I've also suffered bullying at work which HR have records of, yet it was a woman from HR who asked this question. My manager is also fully aware of the problems I've had over the past years as I disclosed them to her in full.

Am I wrong to find that question wrong? Surely they could have asked something else or reworded it?

I took quite a few minutes to think of an answer, because obviously all I could think of at first were all the above instances of where I have felt a failure.

If I say something, will I not look like I'm just trying to find a reason to complain about not getting the job?

Any advice much appreciated.

WhisperingLoudly Sun 02-Apr-17 14:42:12

That's an absolutely standard interview question.

The point is everyone fails and it's how you deal with failure that is important and is what the interviewer wants to understand.

As an aside if you consider the break down of your marriage and being the victim of bullying as your failings then you'd benefit from counselling.

Rossigigi Sun 02-Apr-17 14:43:32

It's a standard question I've been asked many times at interview. They can't change a question just for you. You are being to sensitive over it.

Licketysplits Sun 02-Apr-17 14:43:42

I interview a lot for work, and we have a standard set of questions that we have to ask all candidates, a number of which are similar to the one you've quoted. It's so that if anyone who is unsuccessful challenges us, we can prove that the interview process was fair and transparent and everyone given the same chance. I suspect that's why. If the questions were amended to suit your individual circumstances, they'd have to do that for everyone to make it fair.

rockabye Sun 02-Apr-17 14:45:06

but it can't be a good question to ask someone who may have hidden health problems like depression? and surely it should be about work with no mention of 'home'?

April241 Sun 02-Apr-17 14:47:22

Agree with it being a standard interview question and it doesn't have to relate directly to work. They just want to know how you reacted and dealt with X situation at the time and how you'd deal with it should it happen again.

happypoobum Sun 02-Apr-17 14:47:52

Agree it is a standard interview question. As a manager I need to know how someone deals with adversity or failure.

I don't see what depression has to do with it? It's an illness, not a failure.

IAmAPaleontologist Sun 02-Apr-17 14:48:36

Very standard question. I do sympathise, I have depression and really struggle to blow my own trumpet and give the examples of what I've done well, could improve on etc in interviews. It is worth writing down questions while you can remember them and getting some good answers sorted for a hopeful next time. It is a horrid question but what they will be looking for is you being self aware enough to notice what you have not necessarily done well and be able to show what you have done to address that and learn from it such as reflection, requesting additional training and so on.

Rainybo Sun 02-Apr-17 14:49:50

Standard interview question as other posters have said. It really can't be changed just for you in order to prove that the process was fair and transparent.

user1483387154 Sun 02-Apr-17 14:50:24

Perfectly normal and acceptable question (and I also have depression and anxiety) they have given the option of talking about home instead of work incase you cant think of anything specifically about work.
Sorry but you are being oversensitive on this one.

MatildaTheCat Sun 02-Apr-17 14:50:48

Surely not a very unusual sort of interview question? No need whatsoever to use your personal disasters as an example. Quite possible to come up with how you managed a situation which was going pear shaped and turned it around or how something went wrong and you learned from it so next time you made a success of a similar situation.

About being able to learn from mistakes and not get poleaxed when things go wrong.

JamesDelaneysHat Sun 02-Apr-17 14:51:10

Perhaps adding in home was inappropriate but maybe that was just to allow people to think up other examples. I do agree that this is a pretty standard interview question. I also see how you mjght interpret it with your recent past. I think it's always better to answer such questions with very practical non emotional answers e.g 'I tried to reorganise the filing system but cocked it up and then had to put it right and it took 2 weeks. I felt annoyed at myself but learned that i need to plan things more carefully in future' sort of thing? The question doesnt necessarily need you to go into detail about your mental health or workplace bullying experiences.

user1471545174 Sun 02-Apr-17 14:51:42

Standard question, people have problems, some bigger than yours. You are taking it far too personally. (Though they might even have inserted 'home' because they were obviously aware of the work issue - so that could have been to enable you to avoid that topic).

Instasista Sun 02-Apr-17 14:51:49

It's a good question, it's to find out about problem solving and resilience. It's not about your personal life and it would be very telling re: your suitability for the job if you brought that into it

You ask all candidates the same questions so your personal history is irrelevant

Have you had feedback as to why you didn't get it? You must be disappointed. But I think people who go for internal interviews are very brave- they're the hardest

Euphemia Sun 02-Apr-17 14:52:29

These days they have to ask all candidates the same questions, in the interests of fairness. So YABU.

Most people have had bad things happen to them, the stresses and strains of life. You have to anticipate interview questions like that and have a response prepared.

RockyTop Sun 02-Apr-17 14:53:04

It's pretty standard question and I think fine. Including 'work or home' gives candidates a wider range of options to find an example from.

MarcelineTheVampire Sun 02-Apr-17 14:53:08

It is a standard interview question - it's about personal resilience and how you managed it.

Depression is an illness not a failure ....flowers for you as you sound like you've had it tough!

SafeToCross Sun 02-Apr-17 14:53:31

They will have asked it of everyone, and not adapted the questions for each candidate as this would be unfair. I get that it was hard, but now you know to prepare a good answer to it next time - something in relation to a specific incident that shows you have been resilient, have asked for and acted on feedback, have learnt and adapted) (interviews are just about making yourself sound good, and that's really hard when you feel low, but just make the most of your experiences to show yourself in the best light, everyone else will be making random rubbish up that sounds good...).

LonginesPrime Sun 02-Apr-17 14:53:34

I'm sorry you've been through all of that, OP, but I think you're being oversensitive.

None of the things you've described (bereavement, marriage problems depression, bullying) sound like you've failed at all, so even if the interviewer knew your situation, they wouldn't have thought 'ooh, I'd better not ask that as Rockabye has failed on all these occasions' because you didn't fail and no-one would looking at the situation from the outside would perceive it like that.

They might have even changed the question to refer to failure deliberately to be more sensitive to your situation, as I've been asked more general questions about overcoming adversity before.

Coastalcommand Sun 02-Apr-17 14:54:18

It's a standard question. You will probably find that everybody is being asked the same list of questions. Certainly when I have been interviewed and done interviews for the people there has been a set list of questions that can't be changed for each person.
YABU.

User998877 Sun 02-Apr-17 14:56:43

Standard interview question.

Whilst it must have been hard for you at the time, you have no way of knowing what others who were interviewed, have/are going through right now either.

Coastalcommand Sun 02-Apr-17 14:56:45

Incidentally, I was asked this at my last interview and found it a very helpful question. I had failed a module of a professional exam and had to retake it. The work I done to make sure I didn't fail again meant that I had More specialist knowledge of that area, and eventually I ended up going into that area of work because of the knowledge I had built up. Making mistakes or overcoming adversity often leads us on a better path.

rockabye Sun 02-Apr-17 14:58:29

I've asked for a feedback meeting yes and I was going to mention how I felt about the question. I asked my counsellor who says I should complain as its a 'trigger' question and should at least be reworded.

Those who think that complaining would be telling about my suitability for the job - this is exactly why people with mental health problems don't disclose.

My issue isn't not getting the job (although I am disappointed), I just dont think that question was appropriate. Why not just say "tell me about a time when you made a mistake..." The word 'failure' is very harsh.

ImsorryTommy Sun 02-Apr-17 14:58:57

It's a standard question. If you complain about it I think you're demonstrating that you lack the resilience the question is designed to provoke discussion about. And if you're upset by a standard interview question would you have had the resilience to manage the promotion? would be my thoughts if I worked in your company.

ImsorryTommy Sun 02-Apr-17 14:59:51

Your counsellor is going to make you look bad I'm afraid.

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