During a job interview, it’s common for interviewers to ask you the ‘what makes you uncomfortable interview question.’
Nobody likes to talk about what makes them uncomfortable. However, this question is a great opportunity to use to your advantage during an interview. You can demonstrate to hiring managers that you are able to tackle obstacles and tough situations effectively. This is also why your answer needs to show that you can successfully overcome challenges.
The reason why interviewers ask you about what makes you uncomfortable is that they want to assess how you handle challenging moments and whether or not these moments affect your overall work performance. If you can demonstrate that you can stay calm under pressure while still being able to address problems, you will impress the interviewer and get one step close to landing the job.
Variants of ‘What Makes You Uncomfortable?’
There are different ways an interviewer might try to uncover what makes you uncomfortable in the workplace, for example:
- How would you describe your greatest weakness?
- Tell me about a situation that made you feel uneasy at work.
- What makes you step outside of your comfort zone?
- Describe a time when you felt uncomfortable at work.
- How do you handle uncomfortable situations?
- How does discomfort affect you in your work?
Why Interviewers Want to Know What Makes You Uncomfortable
Employers know that regardless of how determined you are to accomplish job-related tasks or responsibilities, you won’t survive in a job or thrive in it long-term if you dislike doing them.
Interviewers ask you about what makes you uncomfortable to focus on your limitations. They are trying to determine whether you’re resilient and mentally tough enough for the workplace, particularly the position you are applying for.
Every job comes with its own challenges, and employers want to hire someone who won’t give up when the going gets tough, no matter how well-suited the position is.
Answers to these questions need to include specifics about what tasks and responsibilities make you uncomfortable and how you deal with them in the workplace.
How to Answer: What Makes You Uncomfortable?
There are a couple of details you should highlight in your answers. Below we discuss what to discuss and why.
1. Describe what makes you uncomfortable in the workplace
Give the interviewer an example of something that makes you uncomfortable in the workplace. Next, you need to describe why this particular thing affected you. This information will reveal a lot of your character and personality, so you must choose a good example.
Think of what you found challenging to work with in previous jobs or what caused you stress. Examples could include:
- Not being in control of a situation
- Speaking in front of a group
- Conflict in the workplace
- Loud environments
- Unorganized work environments
- Unpredictable schedules
Important: Never use an example that conflicts with your interviewer’s job. If the job requires strong teamwork skills, don’t say you are uncomfortable working with a group or team.
2. Use a real-life example to support your answer
After answering the question by describing what makes you uncomfortable, and why, describe a situation that actually occurred to support it. Doing this will help demonstrate that you can overcome a negative emotion.
If you answered that you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of a group, talk about a time you had to give a presentation in front of a crowd. And if you answered that you’re uncomfortable working with unpredictable schedules, describe a time when you had to work according to an unpredictable schedule.
3. Describe what you did to overcome it
An essential part of your answer is how you overcame what made you uncomfortable. This demonstrates to the interviewer that you possess adaptability skills and self-awareness to tackle obstacles you encounter.
Walk the interviewer through the steps you took to address your discomfort. Examples might include:
- Getting feedback and suggestions from your manager
- Gaining more confidence by increasing your skill levels
- Sharing your feelings with someone you trust outside of work
- Collecting your thoughts and taking a couple of deep breaths
- Identifying potential solutions to your discomfort
Interviewers are interested in hearing about how you deal with what makes you uncomfortable and what you learn from the situation. Therefore, ensure that you include this part in your answers.
Example Answers to the What Makes You Uncomfortable Interview Question
Below we discuss a couple of answer scenarios you can use during your upcoming job interview.
Example answer 1: Being unprepared
‘One thing that makes me uncomfortable is unpreparedness. I try to stay organized and research before attending meetings or speaking with coworkers.
My goal is also to listen actively to colleagues in order to ensure that I know what they expect and am on the same page with them. I also strive to remain flexible and open-minded when faced with unexpected changes.
The result is that I stay focused and am able to adapt quickly to any challenge that arises. Lastly, I strive to maintain a positive attitude and friendly demeanor in all interactions. This will help create an environment where I feel more comfortable expressing my ideas and opinions without fear of judgment.’
Example answer 2: Not being in control in the workplace
‘Whenever I am not in control of a situation, I feel uncomfortable. I enjoy using my analytical skills to solve problems and lead others.
I remember a time at my previous job when I was forced to lead my team independently. Because I preferred to organize my team using my methods, I was defensive of their input at first. However, I gradually realized that a good leader listens to other people’s ideas and delegates tasks.
As a result, I am more comfortable accepting input for the team’s benefit,” even though I still like to have control of situations.’
Example answer 3: Speaking in front of a group
‘Speaking in front of a crowd always made me feel uncomfortable, as it made me think that everyone is staring at me, and I could feel myself getting worked up. In my current position, I often present research results to groups. When I first started, I had a real fear of public speaking.
Right before the presentation, I felt my heart pounding and my voice shaking even though the presentation was only around ten minutes.
To overcome this fear, I joined a class that helps and encourages people to become better public speakers. My new skills made me feel competent and confident in my presentations as I became less nervous over time.’
How NOT to Answer: What Makes You Uncomfortable?
A couple of mistakes are easily made when answering this specific job interview question. Below we discuss the most important ones.
Claiming that nothing makes you uncomfortable
Everybody has some aspects of their job that make them at least somewhat uncomfortable. If you say nothing makes you uncomfortable, the interviewer might conclude that you do not possess self-awareness skills.
Furthermore, answering this way takes away your opportunity to take advantage of this question. Therefore, make sure you can explain the following:
- What makes you uncomfortable in the workplace
- Example of a time you felt discomfort
- How you overcame your emotions
Conflicting discomfort with the job requirements
Never mention a discomfort that conflicts with the requirements for the deposition you’re interviewing for, as this could hurt your chances of landing the job.
This interview question aims to assess whether or not you will be comfortable in the position.
As you might imagine, focusing your answer on situations you are most likely to encounter regularly is a red flag for employers. Therefore, focus on something you will not likely encounter during the job you are interviewing for.
Current discomfort in the workplace
Avoid mentioning the discomforts that you still have and have not yet overcome. This interview question is an opportunity to make yourself look good – not bad. Therefore, choose examples that include situations in which you overcame your feelings and are appropriate to discuss at that time.