Facing a difficult task isn’t always a bad thing. Getting out of our comfort zone helps us grow, and become better in whatever we do. And it makes us more resilient too… Sure, it isn’t easy, and one may overreact. Or they may outright escape. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Show me one who hasn’t… But what do the hiring managers want to hear from you, when asking about such a scenario in the interviews?

Well, as it is almost always the case, they care mostly about your attitude. They want to hear that you didn’t run away, that you actually faced the task with your head high, trying your best. Maybe you worked overtime, maybe you had to learn something new, maybe you had to ask someone else for help, and maybe you eventually failed to deal with the problem. In fact, the eventual outcome isn’t important for interviewers. What matters is your approach, and that you tried your best, and accepted the responsibility.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers now. I tried to include on my list variety of answers for a variety of scenarios and jobs, including answers for people who lack previous working experience. Because at the end of the day, sometimes the most difficult tasks we are faced with are confrontations in our personal life. I had one such a few hours ago (boy and it was hard), so perhaps it will be easier for me to write that one sample answer :). Anyway, I hope you will enjoy the list, and that at least one of the answers will resonate with you, and with the message you hope to convey to the hiring managers.


7 sample answers to “Describe a difficult task you were faced with and how you addressed it” interview question

  1. The most recent example I recall is from my last job in sales. The goals were always ambitious, but once Christmas approached, our manager set for us goals that I considered almost impossible to achieve. We had to triple our sales in December, when compared to November. But I didn’t say anything. I simply tried my best, spent more time on the call every day, and didn’t let the negative responses to discourage me. Eventually I didn’t reach the goal, but I have no regrets, because I know I did what I could. Having said all of that, I eventually found the job in sales too stressful, and I am looking for something else now. That’s why I am here in this interview with you.
  2. I’ve never had a job before, but passing my school leaving examination was really hard. I do not want to say that I was a bad student, or didn’t care. But I wasn’t the most talented either, plus at the school where I studied the expectations were really high. I must admit that the proposition of preparing for the exams gave me some anxiety, and I didn’t find it easy to face the task. But I didn’t run away. I adjusted my schedule, gave up some of my free time activities, and focused 100% of my studies, if we do not count the obligations with family and things I simply couldn’t avoid. It worked. I passed the exams, graduated, and now I am here with you in this interview, hoping to get my first job.
  3. I was faced with an extremely difficult task in my last HR job. My task was to attract a new talent to the company, from the ranks of software developers and testers. Well, it may seem like an ordinary thing, but the issue is that I had to compete with the big boys, without having their resources. What I try to say here is that I could not offer the applicants the same salary and benefits as the others could. Which made my pool of candidates smaller, and it became more difficult to secure any real talent. But I didn’t give up. I tried to come up with some innovative talent acquisition strategies, including a funny and extensive campaign on social media, personal visits to universities, trying my luck with foreign markets, and other. I had some success, but it still wasn’t enough. Anyway, I tried what I could, and therefor I do not feel bad that I haven’t succeeded.
  4. The most difficult task I was faced with was to let a women I loved go. It happened just a week ago, and to be quite honest with you, I still haven’t got over it. You know how it goes… they say there’s no attachment in a true love, but when you spent a lot of time with someone and their bare presence makes your day so much better, it is really hard to see them go. And you try, you may fight for the love you feel in your heart, but at the end of the day the other person is not your possession, and you have to accept their decision. The hardest thing isn’t to let her go, but to get in terms with it mentally, to truly accept it. It helps if you have friends you can confide to, people that will support you in hard times. And it is also important to focus on something else, to get your mind occupied, for example with a new job you try to get. That’s exactly what I am doing right now.
  5. A really difficult task was to decide about my field of study. Because I liked so many things, and my GPA allowed me to apply with virtually any school I wanted to apply with. But of course, you have just one life–if there’s no life after death of course, and you cannot be a million of things. You can either be a lawyer, or a vet, or a housewife, or en entrepreneur, or many other things, but you cannot really chose two. Eventually I decided for a career of a vet, and I have no regrets. Adults should be able to make decisions in their life.
  6. I faced one difficult task after another in my last managerial job. Because the company was not doing well, and they expected me to be one of the persons who will turn it around. The workload was tremendous, we were designing new processes from scratch, trying to save money here and there, trying to save the company. Many people had to go as well, and to let them go wasn’t easy either, since we talk here about men and women with families, who need a regular income. So it was really a roller-coaster of one difficult task after another. And though I believe I didn’t fare badly, and helped the company a lot, a point came when I also had to go. That kind of sums up while I am here with you today. But I do not feel ashamed, because I know I gave it my all. At times you have to admit that you’re simply not good enough for a certain task. I do not have a problem admitting it, and feel ready for a new challenge.
  7. I was faced with a difficult task of leaving my country. And to do it very suddenly, because civil war started, and if I stayed there it would cost my life. Imagine that one day you have a job, a family, a decent life outside of work. You do well, contribute to the society, and enjoy your life. And then you wake up the next day, and everything is different. Streets are not safe anymore, and people like you are suddenly persecuted, only because of their religion. That’s the situation I faced, and believe me it wasn’t easy to find a courage to leave everything behind to save my life. And then you have the task of organizing the journey, with everything that belongs to it. But eventually I made it, I reached this wonderful place. And though I feel incredibly lonely, and it isn’t easy for me to make connections, I hope a new job will give me an opportunity to make myself feel more at home, and to contribute with something to this place. I definitely won’t give up. On the contrary, I am ready to give this opportunity my best shot, and let’s see where it will take me.

* Special Tip: What if I told you that you can practice your answers to ALL tricky behavioral interview questions, getting an immediate feedback from a life-like AI interview coach? And that you can start doing it for free, and it is a lot of fun too? 🙂 Check out this page on our partner website, Real Mock Interviews, pick a question, enter your email, and start practicing for free, either on your mobile phone or on your computer.

So that’s it! I hope you found yourself in some of the answers, or at least have an idea what to talk about in your interview now :). In any case, life isn’t an easy ride for anyone (rich people have their problems too). I hope you will succeed in your interview, and wish you best of luck with everything, including facing the difficult tasks that no doubt the life will bring to you.

Check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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