A woman who’s spent over a decade in HR shares the perfect answer to an interview question about past mistakes

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The hiring manager knows you’re human. Christopher Lee / Stringer / Getty Images

When you head into a job interview, the hiring manager knows you’re human. Sorry, but they do.

They know you made mistakes in your last job, and that you’ll probably make mistakes in this job if you get it. So don’t bother trying to convince them that you’re perfect.

What the interviewer is probably looking for when they ask about your flaws is how you handle those weaknesses, and how you recover from your inevitable mistakes.

At least, that’s what Toni Thompson is looking for. Thompson has spent 11 years in human resources; she’s currently the head of talent and human resources at The Muse, which is a job search and career advice site.

When she visited the Business Insider office in June for a Facebook Live interview, Thompson said one of her favourite interview questions to ask is: “What was the biggest challenge you faced in your last role? What were the biggest roadblocks and barriers to you achieving this really aggressive goal that was set out in front of you that your boss asked you to do?”

She also shared an example of a solid answer to that question. Say you had an experience in a previous job where you forgot to enter a number on a spreadsheet and, as a result, the project you were working on was over budget.

Here’s what Thompson would like to hear:

“There was this moment where I failed to enter the right data into the spreadsheet. It caused us to be over budget by an extreme amount. What I did was I actually went into my boss’ office; I was proactive about it. I apologised a million times, of course.

“But I also thought about three solutions that might help us recoup some of the money that we were over budget by and I also made sure that I communicated to my boss two things I was going to do to make sure I didn’t make the error again.”

Before you head into an interview, Thompson said it’s worth thinking about what you’ve learned from your screw-ups.

She explained, “People who have reflected on the mistakes they have made in their career are some of the best candidates.”

Watch the full interview: