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Tell me about a difficult situation you had to deal with. What steps did you take to resolve it?

1 of 21 No Experience Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on June 29th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

The interviewer would like to know how you deal with challenging or uncomfortable situations. If you're not sure about what type of example to give, you may want to think of cases from school, sports teams, volunteer or internships. Let's say you experienced a conflict with a member of your soccer team. Maybe they believed a rumor, or you had a situation of miscommunication. What did you do about it?

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"My soccer teammate and I weren't getting along. We used to be best friends but we started to get into fights, and I think I hurt her feelings. I apologized and asked if there was anything I could do. We patched things up, and through this, I learned how important it is to have clear communication and to be humble and willing to take the initiative to solve conflicts."

Answer example

"When I was in high school, I was in a terrible car accident right before my senior year. I spent much of my first semester in the hospital, going to physio, and attending physician's appointments. I had to work extra hard to complete my assignments on time, and perform research, with so many days missed. My teacher allowed my friends to take turns recording the class on their smartphone and they would text me the video, which was helpful. There is always a workaround when faced with a difficult situation. I truly believe that."

Answer example

"During University I lost a paper when my computer crashed. I was putting the finishing touches on it when it was just gone. Mortified, I immediately called my professor to explain the situation and ask for a minor extension. I then took my laptop to the Apple store for a major troubleshoot and fix. Amazingly, they were able to recover my document! Had I not been persistent, and just threw my hands up in the air from frustration, I would have caused myself unnecessary work and stress."

Answer example

"One of the most difficult situations that I have faced was not being accepted into my first school of choice. This situation taught me not to put my eggs in one basket, so to speak, but to diversify myself a bit better when it comes to my personal and professional goals. I believe that everything happens for a reason and am now so happy that I completed my marketing degree at University ABC versus my initial first choice."

Answer example

"I have had some challenging experiences, but I would say that the most challenging was juggling my football commitment with school this past year. Our team was amazing which also came with high expectations. I needed to keep my GPA high while also dedicating an incredible amount of time to practice, games, and travel for tournaments. This experience taught me multi-tasking and gave me quite a good amount of resilience when it comes to managing a packed schedule!"

Answer example

"I am the Editor-in-Chief of my school's e-newsletter. The situation became complicated when one of the girls on the newsletter, who started at the same time as I did, was upset with my critique and edits on her submission. It is part of my job to critique the quality, substance, style, and grammar of her submissions and it wasn't up to par. I invited her out to grab a cup of coffee between classes to hash the issue out. I complimented her abilities, and we were able to come to a better understanding and clear the air. I'm so happy that I took the situation head-on instead of letting the uncomfortable situation fester."

Answer example

"My practicum was probably the most challenging experience I had in my academic career. The school I ended up in was in a very rough neighborhood where the kids were not disciplined or well cared for, to be frank. I found it hard not to address their situations and focus only on the education point. I am a caring person and was very sensitive to their situations. As a teacher, I plan to provide my students with the education they need but also want them to know that I am there for them if they need an ear when it comes to their other matters."

Summer Law Clerk
Answer example

"The most difficult situation I have had to face was (X difficult situation preferably related to the position you applied for). It was difficult because (X reasons contributing to the difficulty of the situation, and how you nevertheless successfully completed the project or found a successful resolution)."

Answer example

"In the beginning of my career I often came across tasks that were outside of my range of knowledge. I have the type of personality where I am not afraid to ask for help. I love to learn new skills and will not hesitate to admit when a task is outside of my knowledge base. I spent a lot of time asking questions and researching answers."

Purchasing Manager
Answer example

"One such situation I can remember of is from a few years back when one of our suppliers decided to stop providing us with supplies as he was getting better price from one of our competitors. We tried to talk to him but he was adamant so we had to find our new supplier in a week's time. This was a difficult task as this was a big supplier but we decided to use all our contacts and made sure that we get even better prices and quality by the suppliers we enrolled next. We did have to go for 3 small suppliers to fulfil the requirement but we were able to complete our orders in time."

Addiction Psychiatrist
Answer example

"I recently worked with a patient who committed suicide. This situation is an incredibly challenging one for any therapist or psychiatrist because it makes you feel that you failed someone. I took some time to reassess my work, my methods, and to revisit my approach to this particular patient. I soon realized there was nothing more than I could have done. It's hard to see patients that end their lives because their thoughts so haunt them, and addiction; however, at the end of the day, I can provide the tools and support, but I can't make them want the change for themselves. That comes from within."

Answer example

"I had a patient complaint to address. After hearing the patients concern it turned out it was a miscommunication. I was able to identify their concern, re-work my delivery while providing the information in a clearer way for the patient to understand. The situation taught me that even though my patients may tell me they understand sometimes they don't. I've made a point to take a few extra minutes with each client to assure they understand before sending them on their way."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 08/28/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

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