Ask Candidates About Their Failures, Too

When evaluating candidates for important roles in your unit, do you seek a litany of accomplishments demonstrating sound judgment? Do you consider failure radioactive? If so, you're not alone. But you may be making a mistake.

Failure, more than success, strengthens a person's character and wisdom, because people often learn more from mistakes than from successes. In fact, many VC firms look for entrepreneurial leaders with a failed start-up or two under their belts, because of the value of the lessons they have learned.

So ask candidates about times they stumbled and fell--and what they learned from picking themselves up and moving on. Present them with questions such as: "How did you fail in that role? What did you learn from the experience? How have you applied lessons learned to subsequent roles and projects you've taken on?"

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "The Value of Failure," by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  May 13, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Management Tip of the Day
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