What Has Been The Greatest Disappointment In Your Life?

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Your response to the question "What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?" will help the interviewer determine know how easily you are discouraged, and how you recover from difficult experiences.

Stay Away from Work Disappointments

Try not to focus on a disappointment that happened at work (such as not getting a promotion you wanted). If possible, tell about a more personal disappointment, i.e. the early death of a parent, or an event that changed your academic or career goals.

Believe it or not, it is also okay to have not had a "greatest" disappointment. However, in that case, provide an example of one particularly disappointing experience, or speak more generally about how you would handle a disappointing moment.

No matter what your answer, be sure to explain how you recovered from (or how you would recover from) your disappointment. Try to emphasize how your ability to recover displays a particular quality that is important for the job. For example, if you say you were unable to afford college right after high school, explain how you worked hard over the next year to save up money. This will demonstrate your perseverance and dedication to your goals.

Solid Sample Answers

  • My biggest disappointment is that I wasn’t able to follow my dream of being a professional dancer. I was injured as a teenager during a performance, and was never able to move quite as fluidly again. Even though I was disappointed at the time, I realize now that if I had taken that direction, I would not have my advanced degrees and a career I love.
  • My biggest disappointment is that my dad passed away just before I graduated from college and got my first job. He was a pioneer in the technology industry during his time, and he was so proud of me following in his footsteps at such an exciting time.
  • I have had many disappointments, like most people, but I believe that we learn from all the experiences we have in life, and that the disappointments as well as the accomplishments make us stronger and better able to deal with many different situations.
  • Of all the disappointments in my life, the greatest one at the time was when I wasn’t able to go straight to college out of high school. I think the two years I spent working helped me to focus on what I really wanted to study, and ultimately made my college experience much better. Having a little extra time to figure things out, I was much better prepared to make decisions about what I wanted to study and how that would prepare me for my career.

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