You're confident the job interview is going well and you're excited by the possibilities of the role.

And then the interviewer asks: "What is your biggest regret, and why?"

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What Not To Say

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Saying you have no regrets might seem like a good answer, but it's not what the interviewer wants to hear.

How To Answer

The interviewer is evaluating how good you are at:

  • Reflecting on your past decisions

  • Owning your choices

  • Learning from your mistakes

  • Moving forward from challenging situations

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Your answer should:

  1. Focus on a regret that relates to work, not your personal life.

  2. Describe what you learned.

  3. Explain how you've grown from it.

Scenario 1

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If your biggest regret is what you studied at college, you could say:

My biggest regret is when I chose computer science as my major in college [relates to work]. I realized in first year that I didn't want to be a systems developer, but I really enjoyed working with numbers [shows what you learned]. So I switched to accounting which is a better fit for me and something where I can add a lot of value [demonstrates your growth].

Scenario 2

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If your biggest regret is when you passed up a more senior role at work, you could say:

Earlier in my career I decided not to take on a more senior role because I didn't think I had all the skills to do the job [relates to role]. I realized afterwards that I will never have all the answers and that I can still be successful if I'm willing to learn and ask others to help [demonstrates what you learned]. I've since taken on more senior roles and enjoy being challenged by something new [shows how you've moved on].

Scenario 3

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Sam has an upcoming interview as a customer service representative. He's preparing to answer "What is your biggest regret and why?" He's thought about his past decisions and is considering:

A. Talking about his divorce and what he learned about relationships.

B. Talking about his decision to skip college and explaining how he has now enrolled in online courses to overcome any skill gaps.

C. Saying he has no regrets, he lives life to the fullest.


Which answer should Sam choose?

Take Action

Be prepared to answer "What is your biggest regret, and why?"

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