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  • Tell me about a time…disagreement or failure

    Posted by Husky on May 29, 2024 at 7:16 am

    Tell me about a time…

    … you had a disagreement

    … you failed at something

    You are very likely to get one of these questions in an interview. Interviewers like these questions because they offer insight into how you work through problems. Especially when the situation is negative (failure/disagreement).


    1) Answer the question

    2) discussed what I learned

    3) offer how that experience would make you an ideal candidate

    Here’s a real example from my own life.

    As a casual LT in my first Fighter Squadron, there were expectations that I would have the bar clean, popcorn made and coffee ready at all times. I didn’t understand these expectations and I was getting a ton of grief from one pilot in particular and it was starting to get pretty negative.

    So I cornered one of the olser LTs I trusted and told him about it and he helped me understand. “Dude he wants you to succeed when you get to your first assignment. He’s helping you understand your role and get you ready for the culture.”

    That was touchdown advice. I learned both what the expectations were of a young wingman and then how to take the direct feedback of a fighter squadron.

    And I think that really minor event would help me be an asset here. I was able to handle the situation without slowing down the mission or harming the group vibe. Ssecond I now know how to take feedback in the way it’s intended and I can bring that learning sponge attitude to the debrief every day….Lastly, I can make a really good bowl of corn.



    Cameron_Robertson replied 1 month ago 4 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Greive

    June 11, 2024 at 9:03 am
    3670 BogiPoints

    These questions are so crucial in an interview. It lets you as the applicant really show the board the type of person you are and how you utilize critical thinking. Everyone should have an answer rehearsed for this before they step into the board. Good post.

  • D.J.

    June 11, 2024 at 4:28 pm
    2155 BogiPoints

    Husky has real good advice for this question.

    The Bottom Line is that we all make mistakes. Its what we learned from them and how we make ourselves better.

    Flying takes a lot of knowledge, skills (procedures) and trust. Recognizing your short comings and taking steps to improve them are what the aviation business is all about.

    One example comes to mind during my civilian training. We were practicing V1 Cuts in the Sim. The first couple I did were AWFUL…down right embarrassing! But I knew in a few weeks that I would have to perform these to pass the training.

    So I came in about an hour early each day and practiced and practiced and practiced until I felt comfortable with the procedure. When I got to my checkride, I felt much better prepared to fly the maneuver because I had been practicing and “tweeking” my procedures.

    This mistake early in the training led to me being more aware of my mistakes and to take action to improve.

    Good Luck!


  • Cameron_Robertson

    June 14, 2024 at 11:36 am
    365 BogiPoints

    I remember a lot of little failures in my life, screwing up on tests or not hitting the standards I’d like, losing positions I wish I hadn’t. The ones I can remember most recently are screwups at my job over the years. Missing things here and there from distractions, or accidently saying something stupid, or hitting the wrong buttons and charging the wrong amount of money.

    One of the things I’ve learned from the smaller ones in life and what helps with character is being honest about it. It’s harder to do than just saying it, especially if it’s something that you worry about that could impact your life. Early on I had a lot of responsibility handling expensive and dangerous equipment, a level that I had never had before in my life, and every time something went wrong I would think ‘that’s it, I’m done.’ But I realized that you had to be honest to learn, and thankfully the job was more understanding of that than others. Like I said, it’s hard to swallow your pride and fears and face the music, but you’ll have to regardless, and it helps yourself in the end.

    I think that learning about honesty, betterment, and forgiveness may help me a lot if I had to lead someone. Knowing the importance of being forward when you mess something up, knowing that said honest gives them some strength of character and willingness to learn from it, and knowing how to teach them. To help learn from it while not burdening them with unnecessary stress and guilt from it; if they’re honest about it they probably feel bad enough already you know?

    Sorry to type so much but I’ve recently been interested in this subject. I read through Jocko Willinck’s leadership book recently and there was a whole chapter on this. I remember one where there was a major field failure, I believe it was a blue-on-blue where a SEAL got injured. What surprised me was how every SEAL involved in it tried to take responsibility for what happened, even the injured man himself, but ultimately the commander said it was all on him. In the end though all was forgiven by the inspection, though I know a lot of people will carry the guilt of a failure with them still, especially in something so important.

    The sad thing is, from what I’ve seen in my life and going over history, is people in general are not very accepting of mistakes. The higher you go in a position in anything, the military or business, etc, the more responsibility you have to take on for more numerous and increasingly important things, and with that more chances to mess something up. I don’t blame people for being afraid of this because the reaction can be brutal, and not conducive to bettering the person. If it’s something that can be major or dramatic, even if your own bosses are understanding, a lot of times other sources like the public are not. The unfortunate trend has always seemed like turning from regret and honest learning into a blood hunt for someone to blame and sacrifice, and usually the most major disasters come from a lot of different failures. Certainly, there are many cases where someone has messed up and deserves all the flak and fallout. But from everything I’ve seen, society, in general, is usually very trigger-happy to beat down someone who has failed as a total failure himself, and that’s just horribly cruel in some cases.

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