How to Answer: “What’s the Biggest Challenge you had to Overcome?”

Interviews are meant to present a hiring manager the opportunity to get to know and better understand you as a professional. It also gives you the best opportunity to demonstrate what makes you great for the company and for the position.

A common interview question is “What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome?”

The reason hiring managers would ask this question is to evaluate how well you manage adversity. The interviewer is not concerned with the specific problem, but more so how you overcame the issue.

Here are some tips to pick a problem from your past and explain how you overcame it.

Don’t Damage your Career.

This is your chance to think of a challenge you’ve encountered to disclose to the hiring manager. Make sure it’s not a challenge that would show incompetence in your current job or potential inability to perform tasks in the position you’re interviewing for. No one would hire someone who uses a basic duty of the position as a challenge.

Be Honest.

Use a real past challenge that you’ve encountered. If you try to lie and make up a challenge you had, then you might slip up and the hiring manager will pick up on it.

Tell a Story.

Elaborate with a detailed story about your experience. People like to listen to stories and hiring managers prefer it, so they can see how you communicate. It’s also easier to answer questions with stories, so you provide all the necessary information to get the full picture.

Make Sure it’s Not Personal.

Personal antidotes are definitely a no no! Unless they relate to the job directly, personal stories are considered useless to hiring managers.

Explain Why it was a Challenge.

When detailing the biggest challenge, explain why it was challenging. That way, the hiring manager can see the way you think and it also helps them see that you aren’t dodging their question.

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