Describe a Situation When You Faced a Challenge at Work and How You Overcame It?

February 13, 2023

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This question is often asked in behavioral interviews to gauge your ability to handle difficult situations in the workplace. The interviewer wants to understand how you have responded to challenges in the past, as it can give insight into how you may handle potential challenges in the future if you were to join their team. To prepare for this topic, it's important to have specific examples ready that demonstrate your problem-solving skills and resilience.

Understanding the Question

Before we dive into answering behavior interview questions, it's crucial to understand what the interviewer is looking for. The question is trying to gauge your leadership qualities and how you handle challenges in the workplace. It's important to bring out your key qualities and strengths that align with the characteristics the interviewer is seeking, such as being responsible, transparent, solution-focused, and open to feedback.

Article entitled "How to best showcase Leadership Principles" officially published by Amazon analyzes the issue and lists several key traits that interviewers seek in candidates, including:

  • When faced with difficulties, they are willing to take responsibility, rather than avoiding the problem or passing it on to others
  • They do not cover up problems, but let the team know that there is a problem
  • They do not blame others for causing the problem, but focus on solving the problem
  • They invest until the problem is resolved
  • They accept feedback from others when solving the problem

In addition to the points mentioned above, the problem-solving ability and creativity displayed when facing problems are also very important. So when thinking about the personal experience you want to share, try to think about the difficulties and challenges you have faced in the past, and you have displayed these qualities above.

Answering the Question

To answer this question effectively, you can start by thinking of examples from your past work experiences where you have demonstrated these leadership qualities. Consider situations where you have faced technical difficulties, or had to coordinate with multiple teams to achieve a common goal. Some common scenarios you could draw from include:

Technical difficulties

  • Problems that took you a lot of time to devise a solution
  • On-call experiences that put your problem-solving skills to the test
  • Projects that involved new technology
  • Upgrading critical packages that posed technical challenges

Coordination and communication

  • Projects that spanned multiple teams
  • Situations where you had to improve a messy process
  • Experiences of communicating with team members and finding a solution

Remember, it's not about the specific situation you choose, but rather how you have displayed the leadership principles in your response.

Sample Answer

Here's an example based on Amazon's official "How to best showcase Leadership Principles", that showcases what a strong answer to this question could look like.

"Once, , I was faced with a critical issue in a production environment. Our team had mistakenly logged sensitive customer data, which posed a significant risk with the increasing regulations like GDPR. As soon as I discovered the problem, I immediately raised it with the team and contacted the IT security department. I scheduled a meeting with all relevant personnel and reserved a conference room to discuss the best course of action.

I prepared a few pages of briefings to provide background information to everyone attending the meeting. I also sought out solutions from senior colleagues and proposed several feasible options. At the start of the meeting, I explained the severity of the issue and presented the solutions I had drawn up. The feedback I received from different departments during the meeting was invaluable, and we were able to pick the best course of action.

After the meeting, I worked with my supervisor to assign tasks and track the progress of the implementation over the next few weeks. With the cooperation of different teams, we successfully removed the logging mechanism and handled the sensitive data properly. The issue was resolved before it became a problem for our customers."

This sample answer highlights the qualities of taking responsibility, not covering up problems, focusing on solving the problem, investing until it's resolved, and accepting feedback from others. I hope this example helps give you a better understanding of how to answer behavior interview questions.

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