Five reasons to hire people who have failed, and admitted it.

“When you do nothing, you won’t make mistakes” is an often heard sentence during seminars where they encourage people to be bold and better try and fail and recover than not try at all. This may be true to some extend but my problem is that doing nothing can sometimes be a huge mistake. So I rather focus on the benefits of failing and outline the benefits of hiring someone who has failed, and has admitted it.

That last piece is a pretty essential part of it because you want to avoid people who have failed but don’t see it. Also you want to avoid people who have failed, know they have failed but don’t want to admit it.

Benefits of hiring someone who has lived through a failure are as follows:

  1. If they have the self reflection to understand and acknowledge the failure, they are not very likely to make that same mistake again.
  2. Living through failure teaches you how to deal with disappointments, listen to others people’s opinions and analyze your own actions critically.
  3. Failing is part of being creative and innovative, it goes hand in hand (or as Edison would suggest: ” I haven’t failed, I have just found many ways that won’t work”).
  4. Admitting failure shows courage and being able to stand out from the crowd.
  5. Lincoln, Ford and Disney went bankrupt before making it big so you are in good company.

So should we now rush out and advertise that we are looking for failures? Probably not but the next time you interview a candidate, ask about their failures and what they learned from them and beware of the ones that need to think to hard to come up with a failure from their past, they either haven’t seen the failure yet or are too afraid to admit it and try to spin it.


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