Tell me a time when you made a Mistake. What did you learn from it?
You might have written, re-written and edited the creases out of the failure essay. So when the admission team asks you again about failure, it might not come in a straightforward manner. Most Alumnus would rephrase the question to - what would be the biggest mistake you have made. Don’t get fooled by the wording. We all make mistakes, every day. That is part of learning. The question is not that.
When someone asks you about failure, face to face, looking for signs of pain, it better be authentic. We as humans have improved our lie detection technique. Interviewers trained with a primer in unravelling incongruent stories would grill you down to the last details, forcing you to connect events, particularly the reverse sequence as authentic applicants could slice and dice the chronology and expand on any aspect of the failure. Even the most well-crafted failure essay if made-up could break down inconsistency when details on location and timeline are re-examined. The applicant making up the story would forcefully slowdown as he connects the story or makes silly grammatical mistakes. Slowing down of narrative might be misconstrued as a process of reflecting on the results, but if the pace varies while reflecting on your biggest mistake/failure and picks up while narrating about the greatest accomplishment, then the alumnus would judge your story as a lie.
Most of us are defensive about our failures especially when it is within 2-3 years. But with essays, you should have become desensitized about them.
What mistakes can be mentioned without jeopardizing your admission chances?
I hope you have offered enough context on your failure essay.
1) Underestimating Complexity
The chance of failing is high if the resources, talent or support from the management is not optimum.
Most examples where the applicant have underestimated the complexity of the project occurs during the initial part of their career. However, even for experienced professionals, there are genuine challenges that arise when the product, despite extensive planning is designed with assumptions on customer behavior and market dynamics. With no companies having a Crystal ball, marketing and product placement decisions are based on cues left by the previous generation. With the tastes and cultures transforming every 7 years, failures could also result from the complexity in anticipating user behavior. If you were part of marketing campaigns, mistakes/failures would be in plenty.
While describing the complexity, limit the use of jargons. Convey the complexity in the budget, team management, user preference and company goals. Include a narrative on the competition to establish multiple forces playing into the dynamics.
2) Misreading personal Motivation
Leading a team first-time around is one of the steepest learning curves for most as individual motivations are revealed at crucial junctions of a project.
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1) Booth School of Business
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7) Stanford Graduate School of Business
8) London Business School
9) Harvard Business School
10) MIT Sloan School of Management
11) Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (Team Discussion Strategy + Interview Tips)
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