Tell Me About a Difficult Period in Your Life

Job Interview Question & Answer: What Was the Most Difficult Period in Your Life and How Did You Deal with It?

Reason for the Question

When a hiring manager asks a question like, “What was the hardest time in your life and how did you deal with it?” they’re looking to see if you can handle personal and professional difficulties. This question helps employers get an idea of how well you balance job duties during challenging moments in your life. It also shows them what you consider to be a tough situation.

How to Respond

While your response should detail a difficult period in your life, keep the focus on how you overcame that situation. Positive replies that center on your success over hardships show the interviewer that you can handle disruptive moments. If possible, try to relate your personal challenge directly to how it positively impacts your work style.

Responses to Avoid

When responding to this job interview question, avoid oversharing details that are irrelevant to the position. Long, rambling answers can negatively impact a manager’s view of you and reduce your chances of getting the job. Also, don’t overemphasize how difficult it was to overcome obstacles and adapt to new situations.

Sample Responses to “What Was the Most Difficult Period in Your Life and How Did You Deal with It?”

Read through the following sample answers to help you develop your response to this interview question. Use these examples to create a reply that’s specific to you and your circumstances:

Sample Answer 1 – Bank Teller

“One of the most difficult periods I’ve had was when my Mom had to close down her company. It was a local movie theater with a lot of history, but the economy was in a downturn. I worked there during school, so not only did she lose her business, but I also lost my job. I didn’t let that stop me, though. I started applying for new jobs the next day and didn’t stop until I landed one.”

Sample Answer 2 – Home Health Aide

“A few years ago, we had to put my grandma in hospice, and she passed soon after. It was the most challenging experience of my life, but I was determined to come out stronger on the other side. She was a retired nurse who loved taking care of people, so I decided I’d honor her memory and enter the medical field. I’m so happy I did.”

Sample Answer 3 – Construction Laborer

“The most difficult period in my life was when my family and I had to relocate for a job. I’ve been working construction my entire life, so I knew it was a great opportunity when I saw one. This new offer was out of state, so we had to uproot our lives and start over. It was hard, but I knew I had to provide for my wife and kids. It turned out to be the best job I’ve ever had, and my family loves it here.”

Things to Keep in Mind

A job interview question like, “How did you deal with a difficult moment in your life?” is more personal than most you’ll encounter. However, your reply should be positive and uplifting. How you deal with major life events tells hiring managers a lot about the kind of person you are at work. Use this opportunity to highlight your ability to accept challenges and overcome adversity.

Video Tutorial

Video Transcript

Our participant does a good job following the C.A.R. method. If you don’t know what the C.A.R method is, click the video window to my right to learn everything you need to know about it. He starts with a challenge, describes the actions he took, and wraps it up by providing a positive outcome. However, he isn’t very compelling with the challenge he selected. Essentially, he says that he was in a role where he didn’t receive a lot of direction. From there he seemingly recounted the duties of his job. This caused the answer to go on a little too long. It wasn’t very engaging to begin with, so he’d probably lose the interest of most interviewers. Instead providing a generic challenge, he should focus on one major obstacle and how he applied his talents to overcome it. With a little bit of tweaking, this could be a much better answer. Let us know what you think of this response in the comments down below.

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