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Direct Interview Questions

17 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

Direct was updated on February 13th, 2019. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 17

What is the toughest problem you've had to face? And how did you overcome it?

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Direct Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

    What is the toughest problem you've had to face? And how did you overcome it?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is looking for an example from your work history. Avoid giving a personal example, unless you can very clearly tie the story back into your career. You do not want to be overly long-winded here. State the problem, how you approached it, and what the result was. If you received any accolades for your ability to problem-solve, you could discuss that as well.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The toughest work problem that I have faced recently was when our business went all systems down in the middle of tax season. We had our IT department on the issue immediately, but the situation took a couple of days to fix completely. At tax time, two days behind feels like years. I overcame the issue by staying an extra three hours late for five days. This commitment ensured I was ahead of the game again. It was a stressful time indeed, but nothing a little extra effort could not repair."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "The most challenging problem I have faced was when I accidentally deleted a significant amount of important files from my computer, due to mislabeling them. I told my boss immediately and was incredibly embarrassed about the situation. This level of mistake had never happened to me before! I owned up to the situation immediately which made it much easier for our tech team to recover the files. Rest assured, I know what I did wrong and take every possible step to ensure it never happens again."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "The toughest issue I have had at work was with my previous company. Our regional director and my territory manager quit in the same week. The CEO asked me to split their workload with two other territory reps. Unprepared nor trained correctly, but I did the best that I could with the resources that I had. With my clients, I explained the situation professionally and asked them upfront for their patience as I learned my new role and responsibilities. Eventually, the positions became filled again and I was off the hook. It was a learning experience, in a pressure cooker environment!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "Earlier in my career, I worked for a marketing director who I did not get along with at all. I am easy to get along with because I practice a mentality of 'kindness first.' This particular director took that as a weakness and tried to railroad me verbally on a daily basis. I had never experienced this type of treatment before, and have not since. I did give my notice to that position before my professional reputation or integrity took a hit. I am a loyal person, so the decision to leave was one of the most challenging of my career."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "The toughest career challenge that I faced was when my previous organization went into receivership. I had to help with blowout sales and questions surrounding the retailers very public bankruptcy. Customers were calling in a panic regarding their gift cards, and employees were quitting every day. I had other organizations trying to poach me to work for them, but I decided to stick with my job until the very end. I am glad that I did because loyalty is important to me and I wanted to maintain a good reference."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "The biggest challenge I faced in my career was breaking into the SaaS business. Software sales are incredibly challenging and competitive by nature. To prepare for an opportunity, and to make myself a competitive candidate, I took multiple specific software sales courses for an entire year. The knowledge I gained was immense, and my dedication paid off."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "The toughest challenge that I face, and I meet it on a regular basis, is lobbying for proper assistance and help in the classroom for students with learning disabilities. Public school budgets often do not allow for the great resources that are out there. To overcome this, I call to my community for help, lead fundraisers, and contact local non-profit agencies to ask how they can assist. The opportunities provided to my students through my added efforts have been vast."

      Heather's Answer for a Physical Therapist Interview

      "The most difficult problem I faced recently was working with my schedule to get two walk-in appointments in between scheduled patients. I made a point to explain to the walk-ins that I would do my best to get them in but they may have to wait a bit. The fact that I was up front with the possibility that they could wait made them understand why they had to wait a bit longer than normal. After communicating with my team, another therapist was able to help out with one of my regularly scheduled appointments and we made the situation work."

      Heather's Answer for a Bacteriologist Interview

      "One of my co-workers wasn't carrying their weight, which meant everyone else had more work to do. I chatted with her one day at lunch, and she shared some personal issues that had been interfering and we agreed she needed some help with her projects. We all met with our boss and we determined a temporary solution to help her while she resolved her issues outside of work."

      Sue's Answer for a Chemist Interview

      "When I'm faced with a challenging problem, I typically begin by researching how similar problems have been solved by other professionals in related industries. From that research, I'm able to determine what solution will work best for me and the organization. Then, I decide what actions need to be taken to solve the problem, and I start putting the process into motion while communicating with my managers and co-workers."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Millwright Interview

      "One roadblock I recently encountered was when I was tasked to replace defective parts on one of the lathes only to find out that the particular part was on backorder with our supplier. I was able to track one down online and had our supplier purchase it on our behalf and then ship it. It was a longer work-around than I would have liked but it got the job done."

      Ryan's Answer for a Ticket Agent Interview

      "Last year, my sales team faced a period of time where we lost three colleagues to sudden turnover and had another team member on maternity leave. This put the five remaining colleagues on staff in a very precarious situation. From the moment we knew we were going to be short-staffed, I led our team in working with our manager to rework our schedules, ensuring that we were staffed at all times and having at least three team members on during busier times. This required a lot of communication amongst our team and dedication to pick up the slack for others when they had other responsibilities. As our leaders worked hard to hire more team members, I ended up being very appreciate of this challenging time, as it brought our work team much closer together than we were prior."

      Elisabeth's Answer for a Court Clerk Interview

      "My biggest challenge as a court clerk was learning all of the legal jargon. It's endless! I spent many hours studying, working weekends, and taking additional coursework so that I could come to work confidently in my knowledge."

      Ronda's Answer for a Facility Manager Interview

      "In my previous role as a manager, I was faced with the challenge of hiring high-quality candidates to fill out facilities roles. I identified the issue, which was our candidate pool, and adjusted our recruitment parameters to reach more candidates. We were able to fill our vacant positions quickly after that."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Proofreaders and Copy Markers Interview

      "Truthfully, no professional obstacles or major challenges come to mind. I believe my high degree of meticulousness, as well as my other skills and educational/professional qualifications ensured negative or significantly challenging situations would rarely occur."

      1 Community Answer

      Anonymous Answer

      "When I had to liquidate my business, and I was unemployed. I went back to college, earned a degree, retrained as a UX designer, and started working again in a new career. Very challenging time but ultimately very rewarding."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You are showing the interviewer that you have grit and tenacity. Well done!

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