What Major Problem Have You Encountered and How Did You Deal With It?

LiveCareer Staff Writer
by LiveCareer Staff Writer
Published On : May 30, 2017 

In an interview, a hiring manager will want to know how you deal with hard situations. Work isn’t always easy and can often become stressful and difficult when dealing with deadlines and upset customers.

This is your opportunity to convince the hiring manager that you can effectively handle any situation thrown at you.

Points to Emphasize

When you formulate a response, be sure to stay positive and be brief. The hiring manager doesn’t need to hear about all the stressful situations you have encountered. Mention one specific example and keep a positive tone as you discuss the essential details.

  • Emphasize how you overcame the situation and resolved the problem.
  • Be sure to mention specific skills you utilized that allowed you to resolve the issue.
  • Mention your excellent communication skills as most problems can be resolved through proper communication channels.
  • Provide details that show how difficult the problem was without dwelling on the negative aspects.

Mistakes You Should Avoid

Interview questions like this one can be tricky if you aren’t prepared. The most important thing to remember is that you stay positive and don’t dwell on the negative. Keep your response professional and accurate, without elaborating too much. Here are a few things to avoid in your response:

  • Don’t name any names in your response. If you have to mention others, simply call them a co-worker, a customer or a manager.
  • Don’t speak poorly of anyone else; customers, managers, co-workers or any other person.
  • It’s important that you don’t create a negative connotation of the company you work for or the people you work for and with.
  • Don’t embellish the story in any way to make yourself sound like the hero. Be concise and accurate in everything you say.

Sample Answer

A sample response to an interview question that asks “what major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it” might look something like this:

In my current position I fulfill customer orders over the phone and complete the order in the company’s computer system. One day the entire system unexpectedly crashed and we were left with a call volume exceeding 100 customers on hold, waiting to place their order. It was a difficult situation, since I initially felt there was little I could do to help the problem. But I soon realized there was a lot I could do to help fix the problem. I could talk to our customers and assure them we were doing everything we could to help them.

I answered as many calls as I possibly could to alleviate the hold volume. I spoke sincerely and confidently with each customer and assured them our secure system was not in any trouble, but that it might take a few minutes to have it properly working again. Our customers expressed their gratitude for my honesty, and my manager praised me for taking initiative in a messy situation. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the customers at your company and assure them in the same manner, should a system encounter failure or another problem arise.

About the Author

LiveCareer Staff Writer

At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common: they are authorities on the job market. From journalists with years of experience covering workforce topics, to academics who study the theory behind employment and staffing, to certified resume writers whose expertise in the creation of application documents offers our readers insights into how to best wow recruiters and hiring managers, LiveCareer’s stable of expert writers are among the best in the business. Whether you are new to the workforce, are a seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, LiveCareer’s contributors will help you move the needle on your career and get the job you want faster than you think.


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