As college comes to an end, former students become new employees. Part of the process of gaining employment is that of interviewing with potential employers. There are many aspects to this, and it is essential to prepare for some of the questions that the interviewers will ask you. One specific question that often comes up is, "Tell us about a challenge that you've had to overcome in the workplace?" Many graduates aren't adequately prepared to answer this, but there are a few steps that you can take to make sure that you have a solid answer to this question.
Employers ask this question because they want to test your ability to think on your feet and handle unexpected problems when they come to you. To show your worth in these situations, you can remember the acronym S.T.A.R. This stands for situation, task, action, and result. When you keep this in mind, you can successfully report on how you have handled previous challenges in the workplace. Follow this structure to give a definite answer to your interviewer.
In order to paint an accurate picture of your ability to solve problems, you must first explain the initial situation in which you found yourself. Don't go into too much detail – keep it short and to the point. Coherently express what the problem was, but don't spend too much time setting it up. The interviewer is more interested in how you handled the issue rather than learning about all of the minutiae involved. Clearly explain the situation and then move on to the next step.
One of the most important parts of assessing a problem is to understand what you have been tasked with in order to get it fixed. Let the interviewer know that you are aware of your responsibility, and make sure to tell them if you assigned tasks to other people. This shows that you know how to work as a team and demonstrates your potential leadership abilities.
The action is where everything starts to fall in place. After you've tasked yourself and others with certain responsibilities, you are able to start carrying out the actions that will help you to solve your problem. Explain what steps were taken throughout the challenge, paying particular attention to the things that you did to work towards the solution. Make sure to highlight your trail of thought and the process you took to reconcile any disputes or inconsistencies.
This is where you will want to make sure that you picked a positive anecdote that ended in success. Talk about the result of your planning and action, focusing on critical issues that you fixed by using your problem-solving skills. If you can use numbers to quantify your success, you'll be giving the interviewer, even more, to be impressed about.
Companies looking for new hires want to know that they can rely on you to practice situational awareness and solve problems on your feet. If you can answer this question satisfactorily, you will be giving yourself a significant boost in the eyes of your potential employer.