You are suddenly asked, “Do you have any regrets in your life?” There’s no need to show remorse for anything; after all, what has your candidature for the job got to do with it?
TRAP: There are some questions your interviewer has no business asking, and this is one. But while you may feel like answering, “none of your business,” naturally you can’t. Some interviewers ask this question on the chance you admit to something, but if not, at least they’ll see how you think on your feet.
Some unprepared candidates, flustered by this question, unburden themselves of guilt from their personal life or career, perhaps expressing regrets regarding a parent, spouse, child, etc. All such answers can be disastrous.
The question “do you have any regrets” may be paraphrased as “what mistakes have you committed”.
ACCEPTABLE ANSWER: As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret. But don’t seem as if you’re extremely defensive either.
Best strategy: Say you don’t hold any regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy human relations.
Example: Pause for reflection, as if the question never occurred to you. Then say, “You know, I really can’t think of anything.” Pause again and then add, “I would add that as a general management principle, I’ve found that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid causing them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps me a great deal in this regard.
At the end of each day, I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to take a second look at the people and developments I’m involved with and do a double-check of what they’re likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do need more follow-up, whether a pat on the back or maybe a five-minute chat in someone’s office to make sure we’re clear on things…whatever.”
“I also like to make each person feel like a member of an elite team, like the Boston Celtics or LA Lakers in their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member know you expect excellence in their performance, if you work hard to set an example yourself, and if you let people know you appreciate and respect their feelings, you wind up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s having fun at work because they’re striving for excellence rather than thinking over slights or regrets.”
What tips would you give for answering do you have any regrets interview question? Do you feel you answered it wrong? We’d love to hear from you in the comments about other interview questions.