Job Interview Question & Answer: Tell Me About A Challenging Problem At Work That You Faced (And Overcame)
Why The Question Is Asked
When employers ask job candidates to recount past challenges faced during work, the aim of the questions remains assessing the problem solving abilities of interviewees. The questions also provide interviewers with insight regarding critical-thinking skills, personality, willingness to work as part of a team, and creativity. Though providing examples demonstrating the ability of candidates to successfully turn situations around generally remains the best course of action, challenging situations in which interviewees failed to improve problems persist as acceptable, as well.
How to Respond
What to Highlight
To prepare, job hopefuls should choose anecdotes effectively and completely communicated in the span of two to three minutes. The best responses draw attention to particular skills or traits valuable to the available work. For example, candidates interviewing for jobs in the retail industry may recount a time during which a difficult customer was handled well and walked away from the encounter pleased with the service received. Such an answer illustrates the customer service skills of interviewees. Additionally, hopefuls should remain cautious of painting supervisors and fellow associates in negative lights,as doing so raises red flags for employers. Such topics make candidates seem petty, difficult to supervise, and generally disagreeable.
When You Are New to The Workforce
For interviewees with little-to-no formal work experience, the “Tell me about a challenge at work you faced recently” question may prove daunting. Generally, personal tales of struggle persist as undesirable responses but some topics remain acceptable in lieu of career-related hardships. Some suitable topics to contemplate include challenges faced during the higher education process, self-teaching difficult topics like foreign languages, athletics, or hobbies. To avoid discrimination, job hopefuls should avoid talking about health problems, addictions, depression or anxiety, and family.