Difficult Problem Interview Question And Answer: Tell Me About A Time When You Had To Overcome A Challenging Problem

Tell Me About A time When You Had To Overcome A Challenging Situation

In this blog, you will learn the reason why the interviewer is asking you this question, If you understand why the question is being asked, you can give the perfect, top-scoring answer. We will then tell you the best method for structuring your answer to this, and any other behavioural interview question.

Finally, we will give you a scripted answer to use in your job interview that is sure to impress!

Why Is The Interviewer Asking The Question ‘Tell Me About A Time When You Had To Overcome A Challenging Situation’

They are asking you this interview question for 2 reasons:


 REASON #1 – The role you are applying for requires you to overcome challenging problems. If you’ve never experienced a challenging problem before, the interviewer can’t be sure you will be a good fit for their team.

REASON #2 – The interviewer wants to assess what your approach is when dealing with challenging problems. Are you the type of person who passes the problem on to someone else to deal with, or do you take ownership of the situation, assess it to gain a thorough understanding of the issue, and then take positive steps to achieve an outcome that in the best interests of the company?

The BEST METHOD For Structuring Your Answer To The Behavioural Interview Question, ‘Tell Me About A Time When You Had To Overcome A Challenging Problem’

The best method to use is called the STAR TECHNIQUE.

 The STAR technique stands for, situation, task, action, and result.

  • Start off your answer and tell the interviewer the SITUATION you were faced with.
  • Second, tell the interviewer the TASK that needed doing.
  • Next, give specific details about the ACTION you took to achieve the task.

Finally, finish off your answer and tell the interviewer the RESULTS following your actions.


SITUATION: In my previous role, my manager gave me the important task of organizing a large company conference at a local hotel. 20 guests were going to be attending, and I organized everything from the food, the accommodation, the evening entertainment, and the speakers. Unfortunately, four days before the event was due to take place, there was a small fire at the hotel and they could no longer hold the conference.

 TASK: It was task to assess the situation and come up with a solution to this challenging problem.

 ACTION: The easy thing to do would be to reschedule the conference but I wasn’t prepared to do that. I started out by calling alternative venues in the local area. Speed was of the essence and whilst communicating with each venue I was clear and concise in my requirements. After an hour, I managed to find a suitable alternative venue in a similar area that could cater for our needs. Finally, I emailed all attendees with the new venue instructions, and I then called each and every one of them personally to make sure they were fully aware of the change of venue.

 RESULT: By remaining calm, by assessing my options, and by being resilient in the face of a difficult challenge, I was able to still arrange a conference that was a huge success for the company.

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