What Was Your Last Mistake

What Was Your Last Mistake

What Was Your Last Mistake

What was your last mistake? This is a great interview question that is starting to become more common. It catches people off guard and is hard to fake an authentic answer to.

The question requires you to be reflective and to contemplate your actions. It is a way to see how intentional you are in your approach to work.

Your response can show accountability and that you can say “my mistake” and not shift the blame. These are all attributes that a company wants in an employee and in life in general.

Outside of the context of interviewing, do I think about my last mistake? I don’t. What does that say about me? Am I not reflective?

Even as I type this essay, I am struggling to figure out my last real mistake. Am I an egotist who doesn’t think I make mistakes? No, I make plenty of mistakes every day, from spelling to putting my foot in my mouth. Have I limited myself to reduce risk so much that I’m only taking safe actions and not pushing myself?

Mind Stretching

I continue to stretch my mind to think of mistakes beyond the innocuous ones. My days aren’t full of life-changing decisions. Do I have many opportunities to create moments of regret? Or have I blocked my mistakes out, finding them too painful to remember?

If I really look at a mistake that was truly impactful, I look back to the first year of the COVID quarantine. I was running a training organization that had shifted to remote learning. Eventually, during the quarantine, we became as busy as ever, with high attrition and virtual hiring and onboarding. I became buried in the busy tasks of moving things along in the process. I was no longer operating as a problem solver but as a process manager. I could see the wave coming, and I knew we had to change for the organization, but we couldn’t figure out what to change into. How would we provide value in the future under this new model?

After a year, we hadn’t changed. Our value diminished greatly. Then, the department was eliminated.


Should I dwell on that? That lack of decision kept me up for months. I thought about what I should have done and what I was unable to do. As the years have passed, I don’t think about the outcomes. They are never as bad as what the mind thinks of the unknown. What I still think of is everything that led up to the inaction. I could see the wave coming, but my feet were stuck in the sand, and I was unable to run away from it. It is also easy to write off the experience and say that I got overwhelmed with busy work, but that shouldn’t have stopped me from taking the right action.

Why was that so hard to recall initially? Should I question myself that I’m not failing enough and playing it safe? Or have I simply moved on? What does moving on say about me? I should ask a recruiter what they think. Then again, why should I really care what a recruiter thinks about my life experiences?


How To Stop Obsessing Over Your Mistakes

Read More about Culture

Let 9m Facilitate Your New Culture

Share This