Asking potential job candidates to dwell on past regrets might seem a tad rude. But the answer can be fruitful on a number of levels. A good response will reveal how they judge their career to this point, how they personally measure success and what their ambitions for the future are.
"If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?"
The above question is a favourite of Brendan Courtney, president of staffing firms Randstad Finance & Accounting and The Mergis Group, Boston. As Courtney explained to online employment provider Monster:
Asking a candidate to explain the major decisions he has made, highlighting the positive and negative, reveals the person’s ability to make calculated decisions based on past professional and personal experiences. It also lets candidates share their vision for the future and their ambitions.
If you're on the receiving end of this question, avoid the temptation to reply "nothing". This will almost certainly come across as dishonest - if it was true, why would you be applying for a new job in the first place?
Instead, focus on the skills and insights you wished you had when starting out. In addition to providing an honest answer, this also highlights the professional instincts you have developed over the course of your career that could prove useful to their business.
You can find a bunch more interview question ideas on Monster's blog.