What was the toughest challenge you have ever faced?
To be honest, the interviewer doesn’t actually care about you or the challenges that you have faced. The reason behind this question is to see you as a person deal with those challenges. Are you someone who accepts their fate? Who throws in the towel without ever trying? Or are you someone who preservers and stick through it to find a solution? Obviously, the company wants the third one as an employee.
In these types of questions, you really shouldn’t lie. If you are making something up or are not being truthful, the interviewer will be able to tell because you won’t be relating to it. That being said, you don’t have to be a completely open book either. If you don’t want to talk about your toughest challenge ever, if you feel like it is too personal, or if it actually shows you in a bad light, then you don’t have to use that one. Instead use another example, one that is not too deep and one that doesn’t show you in a bad light.
So, how should you answer this question? Start by briefly mentioning the challenge you want to talk about. Instead of focusing on the challenge itself, discuss why the problem arose and how did you tackle it. Make sure to answer this in such as a way as to show how you addressed the situation and worked on it to defeat it. Your answer should portray you in a positive light and prove that you not one to slink away from a challenge, but rather you would take it head on and beat it. However, the challenge here is to do this without seeming like you are boasting.
Also, try not to speak badly about any of your previous jobs, or of your bosses, supervisors, or co-workers. You have to portray yourself in a positive light, without portraying anyone else in a negative light. If possible, try to answer the question in such a way as to highlight some skill of yours that would be useful in the current position.
In one of my previous jobs, I was working with a team of qualified individuals. However, it was clear that a colleague of ours was having a hard time coping with the work. He was a great guy but sadly he just didn’t have the skills. While we initially helped him out with his work, over time it was clear that it wouldn’t work. Hence, I had to make a decision, even though he was a great guy, he was affecting productivity, but I did not want him to be fired either. Eventually, I had a talk with my manager, explained the situation and recommended that he be transferred to another position, one where he would be more comfortable and his skills would be utilized.