How To Answer “What Has Been Your Greatest Challenge In Your Career So Far?”

If you’ve got an interview coming up it’s probably a good idea to start swotting up on some potential interview questions. There are lots of different questions that could crop up, so you want to make sure that you’re prepared and don’t start rambling on. You can find some of the most common questions (and our top tips on how to answer them) in our interview section. A pretty common question that employers can ask is “What has been your greatest challenge in your career so far?”

This can stump a lot of candidates if they’ve not thought about it beforehand. To make sure you’re not caught out, we’ve come up with five things to consider when answering “What has been your greatest challenge in your career so far?”

Don’t Be Negative

This is a really important one as employers are asking this question to see how you deal with situations when the going gets tough. So when you’re starting to talk about a challenge you’ve had, remember to avoid turning it into a negative and criticising other people’s work. You want to show that you can take accountability for your actions and deal with a challenge head on, rather than saying “I can’t do this” or blaming someone else.

End On A High

Employers want to see that you dealt with the challenge, so you want the answer to flow almost like a story – you’d start off by describing the challenge and finish on how you solved it. This shows the employer that you’re more than capable of dealing with a challenging situation without crumbling. It also shows that you’ve thought about the answer, rather than scrambling bits of your answer together in a rush.

Choose A Valid Challenge

Let’s face it, most of us have come across more than one difficulty in their career – but some challenges are a lot more significant than others. You want to think carefully about what challenge you’re going to choose because your employer wants to see that you can handle a significant issue. So don’t talk about petty problems like little disagreements with an employee because they just aren’t going to cut it.

You need to really think about what situation you’re going to discuss. A good answer might relate to an external issue like the recession –  you’d then go on to discuss how you tackled it within your previous role. So make sure you have a good think about a challenge you’ve overcome that has some substance.

Be Honest

I know you want to come up with a top grade answer but you need to make sure that you’re 100% honest. Honesty is a basic requirement for any employer, so you need to make sure that you avoid stretching the truth, because it could cost you the job.

Employers could ask you in-depth details about the issue, and if you’ve lied then you might get caught out. Lying is a big no no in an interview – so don’t risk it and make sure you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to make sure you bag yourself the job.

Be Detailed

Your potential employer will be looking for a fairly detailed answer for this one, so when replying try and identify why it was such a challenge and then discuss how you overcame it. You can then explain how it has prepared you for the job that you’re interviewing for – you want to make your potential employer’s life as easy as possible by explaining how you tick the boxes in detail.

An employer wants to learn more about you, so they’d prefer you went into specifics than be vague about the events. This said, don’t bore your prospective employer by going into every tiny detail; like conversations with colleagues, it’s all about striking the right balance.

So there we go; some things to consider when answering the question, “What has been your greatest challenge in your career so far?”

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