Job Interview Question

What was your most difficult work experience and how did you deal with it?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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This is a great job interview question to talk about how you have overcome a challenge and ended up a winner!  You can talk about how you stepped up to a difficult situation and got a good outcome, or how you overcame something that was holding you back in your job (maybe you learned a new skill).

Because this is a classic behavioral interview question, you want to use the STAR format to talk about this:  Describe the Situation or Task (what was going on), the Action you took (what you did) and the Result (what happened).  You can also talk about how you would do it differently if you had it to do over.

Basically, you want to describe this difficult work experience, how you analyzed it, how you possibly brought in other resources to solve it, and how it turned out OK.  And if you can quantify your answer, it’s even better. What do I mean when I say “quantify”?

Quantifying your answer just means adding numbers, dollars, or percentages to your description of it.  So instead of saying “I improved sales,” you’re going to say, “I improved sales by 30%”.

“I wrote customer emails,” becomes “I wrote customer emails that brought in 10 new customers per month.”

“I was known for delivering all my projects on time” becomes “My project delivery was 100% on time”

“I was a top student in my class” becomes “I ranked #2 in a class of 400, with a 3.9 GPA”

It’s much more powerful and attention-getting to add those numbers, dollars, and percentages to your accomplishments.  You’re saying the same thing, but with more preciseness.  You’re adding evidence. This is a skill you need to know for both your interview answers and your resume, too.  Numbers matter.

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Then, your answer sounds more like:  “Once, I faced X situation.  It was a big problem because of ABC.  I realized that our biggest obstacle was Y, so I put some thought into it [you’d want to say what that thought process was here] and decided to do Z.  It worked out really well.  Because of that, we saw a revenue jump of $10,000 that month.”

But it doesn’t have to be dollars. It could be that you saved time, increased accuracy, decreased loss, increased customer numbers (without naming dollar amounts), or anything that you can describe by saying “how many” or “how much.”  That’s the way to end your answer and be more impressive in the interview.

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