- If you’ve never failed before, you won’t get a job at the home-maintenance startup Setter.
- That’s a rule developed by Setter cofounder David Steckel, who said if a job candidate hasn’t made any professional mistakes, it’s a red flag.
- Steckel drew the rule from his personal experience founding the company, and said he is looking for people who can talk candidly about their failures and mistakes and learn something from them.
During a job interview, you’re expected to show off your best self.
But if you come off as a little too perfect, that’s a turnoff for some employers.
In fact, one startup founder has a rule to weed out job candidates who seem a little too good to be true: If you’ve never failed, you’re not getting the job.
“If I’m interviewing someone and they tell me they’ve gotten everything right in life, that’s a red flag right there,” David Steckel, the founder of the home-maintenance company Setter, wrote on LinkedIn. “Because it means they’ve never gone out of their comfort zone. Never pushed themselves to the edge and beyond. Never faced an obstacle larger than their skill set.”
This month, the Toronto-based company announced it raised $10 million in Series A funding. But the first iteration of the company, Steckel told Business Insider, was a failure that cost him $100,000. His problem was trying to do too much by himself, which led him to enlist cofounder and CEO Guillaume Laliberte.
Now, Steckel can relate to job applicants who can talk candidly about mistakes they’ve made in their careers.
“The type of person that I’m looking for in any role at Setter is comfortable talking about experience where a project has backfired, utterly failed, the outcome was the opposite of what was desired, or if they’ve just made a mistake that negatively affected a deal, customer, or opportunity,” he told Business Insider.
As for the type of person they’re not looking for? Steckel recalls one example that stands out.
His team was interviewing a potential hire and was asking him about times something went wrong on the job. The applicant’s answers, to Steckel’s disappointment, shifted the blame to his coworkers and supervisors.
“He never once used an example with ‘I’ as the subject that made a mistake,” Steckel told Business Insider.
“This interviewee clearly believed that they never did anything wrong in their life. The ability to be humble is part of our culture, and this candidate was very focused on laying blame rather than learning.”
The critical element is learning from your mistakes and being honest about them, he added.
“If you’ve played video games, you know you can never beat the boss on the first try. It might take 10, 50 or even 100 attempts,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “What I’m looking for are the people who keep trying.”
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