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PRODUCER’S NOTE:  In death, words of wisdom can take on a special meaning.  They did for me as I read Laura Paugh’s obituary in the weekend Wall Street Journal. Watch this 60-second video for rock-solid advice regarding interview preparation. 

John always engaged applicants to talk about their mistakes in his search practice. “I did not want to be responsible for recommending to a board an executive who was reluctant or uncomfortable talking about mistakes. I found that the best leaders were the ones who owned their history and were willing to share lessons learned.” 

Laura Paugh, a woman who early in school struggled but went on to earn an MBA and became one of six women executives among 2,000 men at Ford Motor Company in the 70s and later as Senior vice President of Investor Relations at Marriott, offered some great career advice: 

“I believe to be successful in the long run you need to experience failure. You can’t avoid mistakes if you haven’t made them first.” 

Admitting mistakes is equally important. Said Ms. Paugh, “People who can’t admit mistakes, who can’t admit they may be wrong, will be stymied in their career and personal life because who wants to be around that?”

In preparing for a job interview, if you are coached not to admit your mistakes, disregard that advice.  Be prepared.  This is when you take lemons and make lemonade.