Accepting mistakes

During a recent interview I asked the hopeful job seekers across the table from me “Can you tell me about a time you’ve failed?”

The reason that I asked wasn’t to make them squirm, although they did, but to better understand how the individual views making mistakes along the road to success. 37signals say that failure is overrated and I’m inclined to agree in principle. All the cool kids say “fail fast” which is fine when nowt is at risk. I don’t want to fail giving our visitor a highly satisfying visit. I don’t want to fail to meet my income target (Over £1M) and lose staff as a result. BUT me and the rest of the team WILL make a ton of small mistakes. Making mistakes is not the same as failing. We need to have a goal in sight and get there, but I’m sure that by accepting and adapting after a mistake WILL make getting to our goals a reality. Fear of making a mistake will lead to failure.

A few recent mistakes I’ve made:

  • Ordered 200 bespoke mugs too quickly and now I have 162 still unsold
    Assumed Shopify saying it works offline without testing in detail which means the till drawer won’t open if we lose connection…
  • I didn’t include staffing recharges in my monthly budget forecast

How would you have answered?

Think of an interview as a boxing match

Over the past 2 years I’ve done a fair share of interviewing which has taught me a few things. When I get asked how best to approach an interview I always say “An interview is like a boxing match”.

In a typical hire/recruitment we have the application process (round 1), a task or presentation (round 2) and finally a series of questions (rounds 3-12). All scored by 2-3 people on a panel. A boxer typically wins by scoring more than their opponent rather than knockout. Yet in many of the interviews i’ve worked on, the interviewee throws caution to the wind and goes searching for the knockout by offering a single answer. I’m telling you for free that you’ll almost always be swinging a miss.

Which leads me nicely on to “You score points for landing” as boxers don’t get points for throwing punches. They score for landing blows both small and big. An interview question will likely require multiple responses, each of which helps you climb higher on the score sheet PER question. If you don’t think you’ve worked hard enough with your answer? you probably haven’t.

Like a boxing match you should be thinking of the goal and work steadily until the bell chimes.

Professional boxing scoring according to wikipedia