Before starting my own business, I worked in Human Resources for several decades. Throughout my career, I had many opportunities to interview candidates. One of my standard questions was to have the interviewee tell me about a time they failed and how they handled it.
I had many eyebrows raised as I shared this practice with my colleagues. They couldn’t understand why I would ask such a question. Candidates often seemed a bit uncomfortable too. Wasn’t this a time to talk about all you’ve accomplished?
We all have had failures in our past. None of us are perfect, however, my rationale was not to hear as much about the failure, as it was to find out what they learned as a result. As leaders we must be learners.
A leader’s values are essential to how they lead. It can be tough to genuinely find out what a candidate regards during an interview. What we do when we are not successful tells us about character, values and true leadership style. You can also get a sense to the level of humility and authenticity of a leader, when they speak to a situation that didn’t go as they first planned. It also helps to understand how they communicate when under duress.
What I love about this is it moves away from the theoretical world of what would you do, to actually what was done in a given situation. We know from research, that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.
Have you ever had an epic fail that turned into a glorious achievement? A lot of innovation and creativity can come as a result. Read below to find out how some Fortune 500 companies use failure to help move their companies forward.