What is your biggest regret and why? – Interview Question with Answers

interview question with answers

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You are the person just like all the other people in the world and so, you too would have ever in your life made a mistake. Right? Of course, you must have because humans do, we all do so. The difference is just that the mistakes may vary in terms of their intensities. Some mistakes can turn out to be your lifelong regret later. You may not choose to open up about such mistakes at your level with anybody but there is a time when you will be asked about your regrets and you could not afford to skip or ignore or not answer this question at that time.

Yes! During your interview. ‘What is your biggest regret and why?’ makes up a good behavioral question for the interviews. Behavioral questions reveal a lot about you, your personality, your thinking, your approach, and many more. That’s why interviewers try to inculcate many such questions in the interview. This question makes up one of the most favorite questions of the interviewers to know about you.

Of course, there will be many positive questions as well but interviewer, mostly in case of stressed-interviews, would like to see your approach towards handling this negative question which forces you to remind of your mistakes and the regret about the past that you still hold. The interviewer has more than one reason for asking this question, knowing them would make it easier for you to deliver a quality answer. Read on to know tips for answering this question without actually regretting your answer.

What Interviewer is trying to judge?

As stated earlier, such kinds of questions are called ‘behavioral questions’. These questions are part of your interview for many reasons. Your answer and the way of answering these questions tell a lot about your personality and knowing you better is the purpose of the interview. This question can reveal a lot about you but the following are the main interest points for an interviewer:

1. Do you play the blame-game? Are you the person who believes that he or she is suffering in his life because of the mistake of others? Is that something you were about to say during your interview? Well then rethink it. The interviewer wants to check whether you blame someone else for the mistakes or are you brave enough to take up the charge yourself.

2. To seek what regrets you hold: Interviewer is interested also in knowing about the kind of mistakes that you have made in your life that you consider to be a regret of your life till the date. Should you be regretting over them or should you move on?

3. How did you cover up for it? If this was a professional mistake then the interviewer wants to know about how did you cover up for that? For example, if you feel that ‘not learning a particular skill or subject’ is your mistake then how are you managing without actually learning it?

4. Lastly, the interviewer may ask you this question to know about the kind of experience you have in the industry and your comfort level. Your mistakes or your regrets tell about the quality of experience you have had in your career-life which will be helpful for the interviewer in the selection of the best candidate.

Pre-Requisites:

This question is unlike the other interview questions like- “What is your biggest strength” or “what is your biggest weakness?” or any other such question because in deciding about the answer to these mentioned questions you may ask from your peers, seniors, colleagues or friends. But about regrets, you cannot ask anyone except yourself. So, for framing your answer you need to:

1. Introspect: Ask yourself when was the last time you exclaimed ‘Oh no! I wish I could have done that’ or ‘Oh no! I wish I could have not done that’ or ‘I wish I could have done it the other way’? Think of that situation and the reason which made you feel regret about that situation.

2. Think deeper about that situation: You need to think deeper about the particular situation about which you feel regretful. This is because you have to mention the whole scenario when you felt regretful and why you felt so? Make sure the situation you mention should relate to your professional sphere of life.

3. Think of whose mistake was that? Why do you regret what you regret? Is it because there was some mistake on your part or someone else’s. Do you blame others for this regret or you own up the blame for that? Mention about the real culprit for the mistake and if that’s you don’t hesitate to take the blame.

4. What did you do to cover it up: Also mention of the fact in your answer about the steps you chose to cover up your mistake or to calm down the intensity of feelings of the regret. For example, if you think that not giving your hundred percent was your regret then what did you do to overcome this feeling of regret? Did you work harder in your next project or you did something else?

Tips On What To Include And What To Avoid

About What To INCLUDE:

This question may be a negative one and demanding to share a negative experience from you but, it is important to show something good and positive as well that comes from the experience.

1. Share your past experience: State about your past experience of the industry. And highlight your learning and achievements during your previous years. Whom have you worked with and all that related your work sphere?

2. Show your commitment: Showcase a high level of your commitment to your career, your position, and the jobs those you have been associated with in the past. Share what your work during those jobs was. What was expected from you and how you managed to do so.

3. State the situation: Tell about your whole situation and in-fact the whole story in very short to the interviewer for which you hold regret.

4. Mention the reason: You not just have to mention your story of the incident when you faced the failure and then that became your reason for repenting; you are supposed to mention also about the reason that why you believe that situation was a disaster for you and why you still regret over that.

5. Accept the mistake: In case the fault in the situation was yours then accept it and exclusively state that you committed the mistake. Honesty in answering such a question has high regard. Because the interviewer is more experienced than you and can easily find out from the mentioned situation whose mistake it could be. So, show your ‘mistake of accepting’ behavior here.


Things to AVOID:

Certain things that you need to avoid in order to give the desired answer:

1. I have no regrets: These are the words that should be avoided by you in response to this question. Because these don’t show that you are flawless rather these show that you have nor introspected well about yourself and your experiences. Also, this will feel like you do not take responsibility for your actions.

2. Going personal: You cannot state that you regret ‘breaking up with your second boyfriend/girlfriend’ or anything of personal nature. Keep your answer professional completely. You can state some incident out of your past industry experience or if you are a fresher then you can talk about college life incidences. But stick to the professional note.

3. Blaming others: After you mention and clarify the situation and your regret; you have to talk about ‘whose mistake it was of whose mistake it could be’. Be cautious of speaking negatively about anybody, not your boss, not your colleagues, and not even any organization. Don’t play the blame game, just accept if the mistake is yours and if not, then don’t mention your judgments over there.

If you can, answer the question directly. Failing to provide an instance of regret or failure may make it seem as if you do not take responsibility for your actions or you think you are infallible.

Preparing your answer:

Structuring an answer to this question is of utmost importance. So, how to structure it? Should you be mentioning the regret straight away or is there something else that you need to speak of? Follow the following tips:

1. Begin with your good deeds: If you are experienced then you surely hold the list of your ‘accomplishments and learning’ from your industrial experience. State those achievements and mention what positive you have grabbed from your career life. Mention where all have you worked, at what positions, etc. And if you are someone who is not experienced then mention your college-level achievements.

2. What all you wanted to do and you could not do: So here comes the main content. Start by mentioning the story or the incident. You can use the words like ‘One day or once I was working on this project or When my team was on this task’ etc. Then state what happened, how that is a mistake or failure for you, why do you hold it as regret till date and whose mistake do you think it was?

3. Tell your learning: What was your learning, if any, from that very experience of yours? Is it that you won’t be careless further; is it that you will try to again clear your basics and return to the work or is it something else.

4. How would it be if the situation was different: Provided that you again have a chance to correct the aforementioned situation, then how would you correct your experience? Have you thought of such a chance ever before and have you thought of correcting your mistake ever so that you be free of this regret?

Sample Answers:

EXAMPLE: 1

Well, it was a few years ago, I along with my team was working to get a big project for the company. However, my advertising team and I failed to acquire that large project from one of our major clients. This client of ours had done several projects with us which turned out to be brilliant in results. So, we thought that this client will choose us over all others. We took him for granted and so, this time we did not put much effort into researching in deep about the product and paying needs to his needs. And unfortunately, this client chose a better team than us which was more prepared than we were. I hold this regret of taking that opportunity for granted at that time. It cost a lot for my company. From that day onwards I pay high attention to professionalism and prepare for every task with full dedication.

EXAMPLE: 2

Honestly speaking I am not the kind of person who believes in holding regrets in life. I believe in living life, learning from mistakes, and moving on. However, if life gives me a chance to me for making some kind of change in my career path, it would be completing my Business administration degree. Since we have our family business, I entered the industry before completing my studies. Given a chance, I would like to work on myself from an academics point of view. I tried taking online courses but those were not as effective as having actual college exposure. I feel practical knowledge should be backed with theoretical knowledge to boost success in business.

EXAMPLE: 3

Life is full of choices. We all make some choices at some point in time regarding one thing or the other. Life is meant to be lived while making such choices. But does making the choices means that we will every time choose the right way and will never make any mistake? Well, of course not. Along with choices comes mistake-making. We all make mistakes. But the things which separate us from others is how do we handle them? Some people hold them for life in the form of regrets. Asked from them about their regrets, they have many stories to tell you. And then some people learn from those mistakes and move on. Asked from me I do not hold regrets as such but a lot of learning experiences. And I try to hold the learning throughout my life to improve myself each day.

EXAMPLE: 4

I have been in the industry for the past ten years and have been associated with the marketing field for only two to three years. The only thing that I can say I regret about is not entering the marketing field earlier. At first, I tried my hands-on operations and supply-chain management. Though I did not extremely fail in those spheres, I did my best to be a valuable asset to the companies but something seemed missing. If I would have been associated with marketing since the beginning, I think my career would have been on a better trajectory than is it today. But, I am still happy with all my decisions in my career life.

EXAMPLE: 5

The most significant regret that I hold up to this date is not advocating for myself in my career life. I was working with ‘XAC ltd.’ And somehow I got so concerned with being friendly and the most likable person in the office that I was passed up for two promotions during my work journeys those I deserved. I didn’t advocate for myself for proving why I deserved those promotions. I did not want to be unlikable at the work-space that I missed out on the advancements in my career those would have given feathers to my career. Fortunately, I earned promotions and raises later but I still wonder how it would have been provided I would have fought for the earlier promotion opportunities.

EXAMPLE: 6

I chose finance specialization during my post-graduation and hence started working with one of the banks after getting placed through campus placements. The most prominent regret which I hold is elated to the initial steps of my career. The role that was offered to me initially felt to be extremely promising but later it did not turn out to be what I expected it to be. I had realized that I have done a mistake but still, I tried to learn the best I could out of my job role. I might have chosen a better job position at the beginning itself but since I could not go back in time, it was wise for me to make the best out of what I had.

EXAMPLE: 7

I have always strived to work hard in my career to be valuable for the organization that I am associated with. I have always been focused on acquiring the best clients for the company. But there was a time when I was disappointed when we lost one of our old and major clients to one of the competitors in the market. The reason being a mistake in proposals made to the client and that mistake was on my part. We lost this big account of the company to others in the market. I took some-time to sink in that news. But rather than being sad about it, I started thinking of getting other clients for the business.

EXAMPLE: 8

I have been a very studious kind of girl since the beginning of my school days. I have always focused on my studies and gaining good marks and so I hold quite impressive academic records. But now, after completing my graduation, I feel that studies are not the only aspect of learning and growing. Getting knowledge from books is one thing and getting knowledge through world experiences is another and the latter is better in my views. I have been an active student in my college days. I participated in many activities, societies, clubs, and committees in my college which has groomed my personality tremendously. I regret not participating in such activities since my school days. Had I participated earlier, I would have been more polished than I am now.

EXAMPLE: 9

When I was working with my previous organization, I was given the task to work on an Italian magazine. This came when I was already busy with editing work of the two local level newspapers. I had to, in short, manage three of the teams out of which one was an international team. But this big opportunity for me turned out to be the reason for the biggest regret of my life. Because of the cultural differences, I had clashes with the Italian team. I was stressed over this matter a lot and hence could not manage the other two teams effectively. Unluckily, all three tasks failed in the end. But I learned one thing that I cannot let the pressure of one task to affect my performance of some other task.

EXAMPLE: 10

If you want to impress upon the client then being understanding is the key. I was appointed as a sales executive person during one of my previous jobs. I have handled many clients in my whole career. I always try to be polite and up-to-the point with them every time I used to have a conversation through any medium. I hold high regard for every customer of the business. But there is an incident which I hold regret. I received a call from a dissatisfied customer. She started yelling as soon as I pick up the call. This is, I don’t know why it made me angry as well. And then instead of solving her problem, I started arguing with her over the company’s policies. Yes, we lost the customer and I hold great regret for that mistake. I have been more cautious in handling clients since then.

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