We all have a few regrets in life and some of them may relate to our careers. But when your interviewer asks you about them, think twice before you answer. Here's why.
"If you could go back and change one thing about your career to date, what would it be?", or in its simpler form, "What career regrets do you have?" is a relatively common question. It appears innocuous because, after all, everybody has at least made one mistake in their work life.
But be aware that if an interview asks you this question, they could be trying to:
- a) find out something bad about you.
- b) find out if you carry psychological baggage that you don't need.
- c) find out how readily you forgive yourself and others.
That's all according to business author James Reed. His advice in answering this question is to avoid the word "regret" if the interviewer doesn't mention it.
"Regret is a loaded word: don't point it your way," Reed said. He recommends focusing on something positive and say you wish you had done more of that.
If "regret" is mentioned, it'd be rude not to address the word in your answer. Here's a sample response:
"Everybody has the odd regret, but generally regrets are unproductive because most of them are based on doing whatever we thought was right at the time. "… All told, I don’t have too many complaints about the way things have gone. If I could change one thing, I’d have moved into the cell phone insurance business sooner than I did. I turned out to be good at that, and I enjoy it too. … If I’d moved into it sooner then maybe I’d have been sitting here a couple of years earlier -- but who knows? Missing out on that taught me to take the odd risk in life, and I’m thankful for that."
How would you tackle this question? Let us know in the comments.