Tell Me How You Handled A Difficult Situation.

When you’re applying for a position, the hiring manager may ask you something along the lines of “Tell me how you handled a difficult situation,” or “What have you done in the past when faced with a problem”

For this question, the interviewer wants to know what you do in a situation that doesn’t have a clear answer. This will help the interviewer know how you respond to unforeseen challenges.

Points to Emphasize

When you answer this question, you’ll want to focus on aspects related to your reasoning, integrity or initiative, or your ability to reach out to superiors when you don’t know the answer.

  • Talk about an ethical dilemma in which you chose to act with integrity.

  • Discuss your initiative in tackling a difficult situation to a positive end.

  • Let the interviewer know that you aren’t afraid to seek guidance from your superiors.

  • Discuss how you worked through a dilemma and found a solution.

    For this question, you want to highlight your ability to work through a problem that arises in the workplace.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    If you haven’t thought this question through ahead of time, there’s a good chance that you may not be able to think of something off the top of your head. Here are some things to avoid when answering this question.

  • Don’t speak ill of your company or your coworkers when discussing your response.

  • Don’t be self-focused to the point of discussing yourself in a superior light.

  • Avoid discussing your own shortcomings unless you also mention your growth.

  • Don’t choose a situation that isn’t job-related unless you don’t have work experience.

    Your potential employer wants to know that you can effectively work through a situation, so be sure to avoid a self-deprecating attitude.

    Sample Answer

    A great example of a possible answer to this question would be:

    “During a summer session I had a student who was writing offensive notes on student papers during peer grading assignments. I let my manager know and she had the student meet with us and his mother in order to address the situation.”

    The interviewer wants to see your initiative in solving problems and your willingness to reach out for help when needed.

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