How do you answer this question?

Good news! I have been doing some interviewing recently.  Yay! It always makes me feel good to get an interview even if it’s for a job I’m not crazy about.

I’m looking for your help on how to answer some of the popular questions I hear.

How would you answer this question: Tell me about a time when you weren’t happy with your work performance and why? What did you do to improve?

This question always makes me smile because it basically says: tell me how your work is terrible? What do you plan to do in the future so it isn’t as awful?

I could dodge the question and say I take pride in my work and don’t settle for performing under par.  However, that doesn’t really seem like a good answer because:

A. It doesn’t answer the question.

and

B. We are all human and make mistakes or have bad days. Even though I am conscientious about doing my best at work inevitably I have days that aren’t the best.

On the other hand, if I tell a story about a mistake I made and how I corrected it, I feel vulnerable like I just showed a soft spot.

I’ve been told these type of interview questions are looking for a specific story.  I struggle to recall specific stories on the spot.  I tend to talk in generalizations.  For instance, I’ve said I don’t feel good about my work when I am short with people. I try not to get over busy and instead be mindful about taking tasks one at a time so I give each person the attention and care they deserve.

That makes me sound like I’m rude to people and can’t multi-task.  Ack!

I’ve tried preparing answers to common questions ahead of time but inevitably have the wrong stories on hand for the questions I get asked.

I’m keeping the faith that the right job will come in it’s own sweet time and will be better than expected.

In the meantime, do you know the “right” answer to this question? How would you answer?

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