In this video tutorial, learn how to respoind to the classic behavioral interview question, tell me how you handled a difficult situation. Valerie Sutton, director Career Services at Harvard Graduate School of Education, will show you how to turn a negative question into solving problems and fitting in with the new company's culture.
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation is a classic behavioral-based fit question. They mostly likely are seeking information on what you may find difficult, how you go about solving problems, or how you work with people in the organization. Depending on the situation, it may also be confirming your ability to learn on the job. The way this question is asked can be broad and open to interpretation, so you will want to not only show your critical thinking skills but you also want to show how you align with the organization's values and work style.
Understanding the organization's culture will be helpful in choosing an example. This can be done through informational interviews or by secondary research through news articles or the company's website. Look for clues about how teams collaborate within the organization, how decisions are made, and how recognition is handled. This will help you pick an example that effectively showcases your critical thinking and fit. The example you pick should be specific to your style of solving problems. Some points you can emphasize are where you've used integrity, how you've used initiative, when you've sought guidance, or how you've experienced professional growth.
The things to avoid would be using an example in which you did not learn from your mistakes or speaking ill of coworkers and the organization. An example might look like my company decided to go with a new technology that was new for me and had a tight deadline. I let my manager know it would take extra training and I asked for support. I also reached out to a team that had already converted to this technology and asked their advice for meeting the deadline. With their help, I realized that the timeline was too tight and talked to my manager about extending it.
Although we weren't able to extend the deadline, we were able to bring on some extra help. I've since learned to stay on top of departmental changes outside of my unit to anticipate new technology trends and how to better negotiate timelines. Questions about difficult situations are common enough in interviews, so be prepared with several examples. We all face them and being realistic by focusing on how you grew from the situation will help you stand out. Remember, everyone is faced with difficult situations.
It is just a matter of solving problems and having a positive attitude.
- 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?