More Interview Questions and Answers
What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
Alternative and related questions:
What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your current job?
What has been your greatest achievement/accomplishment?
The meaning behind the question:
Great challenges can mean great achievements but they can also mean great failures! The interviewer hasn't necessarily suggested you pick a challenge that you successfully surmounted so a weaker candidate could easily be caught out here. Either way, it's a very useful question for an interviewer; they get to hear about an interesting success – or failure – on the candidate's part.
Without a doubt, the very best way to answer this question is to turn the question into the Top 10 question we covered all the way back in Chapter 2, "What has been your greatest achievement/accomplishment?"
Your greatest achievement or greatest accomplishment will undoubtedly have been a great challenge. If not then what is there to be proud about?
If you've already been asked that question separately then the best approach is to say you've already discussed that earlier and then move on to talk about another major challenge. As with many other interview questions, it's a good idea to have a second answer up your sleeve.
If at all possible, try to limit your answer to a challenge in your recent career history. Avoid going too far back. As a general rule when answering interview questions, if you are forced to cite an example of something which could be seen as a negative, then aim for something far back in your career history. Conversely, if you're given the opportunity to cite an example of something positive then aim to pick something recent.
The greatest challenge I've faced in my career to date has to be the key role I played in helping my company survive the recent recession. The company was undoubtedly ill-prepared for the advent and impact of the recession; their financial reserves were just too weak. After a spate of redundancies, those of us who were left faced an uphill struggle to keep sales levels up and costs down while maintaining our standards of customer service. I learned a great deal from the experience. It was a great challenge. While we certainly did have a tough time of it, we successfully rode out the recession and the cost control measures which I personally devised and implemented ultimately resulted in a significantly healthier bottom line than we had had before the recession.
The Interview Question & Answer Book
More interview questions and answers
Talking about your current employment
- Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?
- What will you remember most about your last job?
- Is this the first time you have made an effort to move away from your current employers?
- How do you feel about the possibility of leaving your current job?
- How would you describe your current employer?
Talking about this vacancy
- Wouldn’t you be better suited to working in a larger/smaller organisation?
- How do you feel this vacancy differs from your current role?
- What reservations do you have about your ability to undertake this job?
- Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?
- How do you feel we compare to our competitors?
- What would you say is our Unique Selling Point?
- What would be your analysis of the current trends in our industry/sector?
Understanding your career path, plans and ambitions
- What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?
- What are your greatest regrets about the path your career has taken?
- What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
- What do you think are your main career options for the next five years?
- What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?
Addressing problems in your career history
- Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?
- Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?
Coping with stress and pressure
- Are you able to multitask?
- Can you juggle a number of different projects simultaneously?
- How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?
- How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?
- What does tact and diplomacy mean to you?
- What makes for a successful team?
Management and leadership
- Would you describe yourself as a good manager?
- Do you really think you’re management material?
- What is your attitude to delegation?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to lead from the front?
- Have you ever had to fire or lay off a member of your staff?
- How would you describe your ideal team member?
Personal and professional development
- In what ways do you intend to improve upon your performance?
- How has your current job prepared you for greater challenges/responsibility?
Interests and activities
- What book are you reading at the moment?
- What newspaper do you take?
- Are you interested in current affairs?
The amateur psychiatrist
- If you won the lottery what would you do?
- Can you tell me about the best teacher you ever had?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
- What are you most afraid of?
Money, money, money
- Why aren’t you earning more?
- How much do you think you are really worth?
- How much does money matter to you?
- Would you still be interested in this job if you current employer offered a pay rise?
- Have you ever had to take a pay cut to keep your job?
- Have you ever asked for but been refused a pay rise?
Author: James Innes