Failures Count Too: 5 Reasons To Include Failure in Career Conversations

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By Tammy J. Samuels, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center

Talking about one’s failures is not an easy thing to do.  In fact, you would probably prefer to leave it out of almost any conversation.  When it comes to telling your story as a job seeker, showcasing your failure may not be all that bad. Now, does this mean you dump your failures into the conversation without purpose or meaning?  Absolutely not.  There’s a time and a place for everything and the interview is most likely the best place for it.  Typically, in the interview, you are likely to get the question about weaknesses, which would seem the most obvious place to insert failures however, what if you don’t get the question?  Do you still want to talk about failure?  I say yes!

Thumbnail Perhaps, you have a great “bounce back” story to share.  Failures can present an opportunity to showcase triumph among many other things.  If done right, you can be remembered brilliantly and extended an invitation to interview on site or better yet, get a job offer!  Consider these five reasons (aka attributes) that can really set you apart from the competition:

Ability to Learn
Opportunity to show your ability to learn from your mistakes and valuable life lessons

Opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and ownership of one’s own faults; ability to be self-critical, show personal growth and not blame others

Opportunity to be transparent and authentic

Opportunity to show motivation; spirit to work smarter, not harder; ability to perhaps prevent similar mistakes or pitfalls

Opportunity to demonstrate new skills developed as result, for instance, insight, problem-solving and conflict mediation