How To Answer ‘How Do You Handle Challenges?’

The ability to handle challenging or complex situations is required in some positions. You might think, ‘handling challenges‘ – what kind of challenges do you mean? This all depends on different factors, such as the position you applied for, the job responsibilities, and the market that the company operates in.

Think, for instance, of jobs where you need to operate in fast-paced environments. Most jobs have at least some stressful aspects. Think of reaching targets, goals, presenting ideas, and meeting tight deadlines. For employers, employees that possess strong stress management skills perform better and are more efficient in their work.

The rationale behind discussing previous stressful situations is the best indicator to predict how you will handle situations in the future. For interviewers, behavioral questions about stress are the most pragmatic way to uncover past work experiences. The answers you give the interviewer should convince him or her that you can handle situations that you are probably to encounter on the job if you’re hired.

Learn more about stress management interview questions and how to answer them.

Why Interviewers Are Interested In How You Handle Challenges

Being able to deal with challenges in the workplace is common. It’s therefore also a commonly discussed topic during the interview. Most of the time questions about how you handle challenges are behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral questions are strategic interview questions that require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation of a time you used a certain skill. For instance, the interviewer could ask you ‘Tell me about a time you had to deal with a challenging task?

He or she might follow up with ‘What did you do? How did you approach the situation, and what was the result?’. By doing this, the interviewers try to get more information and a better insight into how you deal with stressful or challenging situations.

Reasons to ask how you handle challenges

The ability to handle stress and stay calm under pressure is essential in a lot of jobs. If a position requires this, hiring managers want to make sure that you are able to take on that type of work environment. Interviewers want to know if you react to stressful situations in a constructive way rather than a destructive one. Employees who get motivation out of a healthy dose of stress and use those situations to their advantage to be productive and deliver quality work is what employers look for.

In order to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for, interviewers can also ask you ‘What kind of challenges are you looking for?’. They ask you about what challenges you look for, for several reasons.

First, they want to figure out whether or not you’re qualified for the job. Also, employers are always looking for candidates who can help them progress and succeed. If you can provide examples of times that you successfully handled a challenging situation, this is seen as a sign of a motivated and enthusiastic employee.

Another reason for interviewers to ask you about your challenges is to see if the challenges that you are looking for are in line with the requirements of the position.

Tips on answering ‘How do you handle challenges?’

Below we discuss a couple of factors that are important when you discuss how you handle challenges. It’s essential that the interviewer get’s an idea of your thought process, how you handled situations in the past, what you’ve learned from it, and what challenges you’re currently looking for.

  1. Focus on demonstrating your skills

When the interviewer asks you about how you handle challenges, the best way to answer is to provide examples of how you have used your skills, abilities, and experience success in the past.

Furthermore, it’s smart to explain how you would like to be able to use these skills, abilities, and experience in the position you applied for. For instance, you could tell the interviewer:

I recently finished my final exam for my professional certificate for ABC. I’m really looking forward to utilizing those skills and develop my knowledge even further.

Another example is:

I’ve been working on my communication and presentation skills. I look forward to applying those new skills during the roadshows that I read about in the job description.’ As you can see, you can use this question to your advantage by demonstrating strengths and aligning them with the job requirements.

  1. Demonstrate how you deal with challenging situations

When the interviewer brings up this topic, you can explain that you’re actually motivated by challenges as a professional.

Furthermore, you can use your answer to your advantage by explaining that you have the skills and knowledge to handle those challenges. Instead of a trick question, you should view it as an opportunity to show that you’re flexible and creative in your approaches.

For example, you could tell the interviewer:

Challenges really motivate me in my work. For instance, when I have several deadlines coming up, I make sure that my planning stays on point to ensure that I finish each project in time and have time left to perfect everything before turning it in.

The example answer shows that you possess important time management and organizational skills. Furthermore, you show that you can keep strict deadlines. It’s important that you align your answers to the specific job requirements, as described in the job description.

  1. Align your answers to the job requirements

There are a couple of things to look out for when you’re preparing your answers. It’s smart to align your answers to the position. This means that you need to mention challenges that include you utilizing the skills and abilities that are required for the job. Show that you’re able to handle those types of challenges well and did so in the past.

As stated earlier, to do this, you need to research the company and job description. Your answers should highlight those skills and work experiences necessary to successfully perform the job.

  1. Use examples to give your answers more weight

If you want to give your answer more weight, you can use example situations in your answers. Use specific examples of times during work when you actually used those skills.

The best way to describe such situations is by using the STAR interview technique. STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’s an effective way to give a concise and to-the-point answer.

For example, if you tell the interviewer that you have used your creative thinking skills to tackle challenges at work, you can give an example of a time you actually did just that.

Another example is if you tell the interviewer that you’re used to using planning and time management skills, you can give an example of a time you successfully managed an important project.

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic