“Tell me about a time you failed.”
This question is often asked during interviews, but what does it really mean? We all hurry to find an answer that won’t make us seem like a true failure, or we have a well-rehearsed answer about how we may have failed, but we lead on to be successful and prosperous.
Are those answers truly reflective of a failure? Why does your interviewer want to know the answer to this anyway?
Failure is an important aspect of life. The best way to know success is to be familiar with failure. Recently, I had the pleasure to attend the Holland Failure: Lab. This sold-out event was definitely one worth attending. The goal was to debunk the stigma around failure to create a community that accepts these realities and encourages entrepreneurs.
This event was surprisingly intimate considering that it sold out. The event featured six speakers who each shared their personal story of failure. The crowd was receptive, encouraging, and supportive of stories ranging from failed businesses to witnessing murder to deadly gang activity.
The point is that failure is inevitable. Whether it be failing to wake up on time every day for a week, failing to value my mental health, or forgetting to call home enough, I’ve had my fair share of failure. Failure can also come in the form of scholarship rejections and being denied a job but what’s important is what you do next.
Try. And then try again. Failing is the norm because we all experience it more often than we care to admit. Being in advertising and public relations, creativity is mandatory. We, as a culture and profession, can ensure that creatives have the ability to take chances. In our field, the problems that exist now aren’t the same ones that we experienced in the past and we constantly need to problem-solve and innovate, which can often lead to ideas that fail.
The speakers at Failure: Lab may not have spoken to us about their successes, but learning about their failures is all it takes to make a difference. You aren’t a failure, no matter how bad you think you fail, as long as you get back up. Some of these speakers shared their experiences that were years, even decades, long. What feels like the end of the world will only be a lesson to have been learned in the future.
Set time aside soon to seriously consider how you have failed and consider how to move forward. Just be sure to do so before your next interview.
Jaclyn Ermoyan, CEO
Jaclyn Ermoyan is a senior majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in nonprofit administration and international relations. An experienced member of the GrandPR team, Jaclyn spent her summer working at the GVSU University Development office and in University Communications. Jaclyn can often be found Snapchatting, posting about her love for Grand Valley, or making to-do lists. An avid learner, Jaclyn is always looking to expand her knowledge and apply it in new ways. She loves to innovate, create and problem solve.