In this video tutorial, watch an example of how two people answered the common interview question how did you handle a difficult situation. Valerie Sutton, director Career Services at Harvard Graduate School of Education, analyzes their answers and offers tips on how to best address this interview question and ways to improve.
- When answering tell me how you handled a difficult situation, your focus should be on your critical thinking skills and how they align with the values or work styles. Let's see how Tom answers this question. He's interviewing for an entry-level position as a UX designer. - Tom, can you tell me about a time you encountered a difficult situation? - I was working with a couple of the team members at our school and we ended up working on a great project. Unfortunately, we all weren't able to meet the deadline, and so I had to pitch in for some of the students.
They were able to get this work done with my help, but it could've been a lot better. I, for myself, being a team leader know that I need to check in more with these students for a better experience. - Yeah, that sounds like it. - Yes. - Even though this was a difficult situation for Tom, he stayed away from these negative aspects. He also kept his answer focused on a specific project, understanding the issues and how he learned from the experience. Now let's look at how someone seeking a more senior position as a training and development manager might answer this question.
- Tell me about a time you handled a difficult situation. - As a board member of a local non-profit, I was reviewing strategic documents, and I identified some problems with their strategic planning. It had some flaws in the timelines that were set and the evaluation of the plan training. So I contacted the director to discuss the issues, but she didn't seem to be open to talking. After reflecting on the situation, I realized that my call came at the wrong time, so I contacted her once again, and asked if there was a better time that we could speak.
And once we were able to coordinate our schedules, we had a much better discussion and resolving the issues. - I see. - In this case Donna had a hard time coming up with a difficult situation at her job, so instead she used an experience from her volunteer work. Her answers are specific and show how she resolved the situation and came to a positive conclusion.
- Tell me about your strengths
- Tell me about your weaknesses
- Why are you interested in our company?
- Why did you leave your previous company?
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation
- What questions do you have?