What Part of This Job is the Most Challenging?

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In any interview, your potential employer's ultimate goal is to assess if the position is a good fit for you. One way your interviewer might go about this is to figure out which aspects of the job will be the toughest for you to master. Some interviewers will ease into this topic by having you reflect on the most challenging components of the job.

How to Answer This Question

As with the common interview question What is your greatest weakness?

 it's important that your answer is honest, but does not reflect negatively on you as a candidate. Use these tips to develop a strong response: 

Focus on the Job Description

The best way to approach this question is to analyze the job at hand and think about which components of the job will be most difficult for you, based on your past experiences.

You can start by breaking down the job into parts and thinking about the skills, knowledge, and experiences you'll need for each responsibility. You should also think about elements of the job that will require some learning or adjustment from you. Here's how to match your qualifications to the position's requirements.

Highlight Solvable Challenges 

It is usually best to choose aspects of the job that aren't absolutely critical to your specific role. For example, if you're a journalist applying for a position as a web editor, you might mention you're working on improving your photojournalism or video skills.

Don't say that proofreading or writing copy will be your biggest challenge as a web editor, since those are core responsibilities of the position.

Selecting a knowledge or skill area where you have a gap is generally more advisable than choosing a personal characteristic that might be harder to change.

For example, if you are applying for a sales position, you should avoid mentioning how reaching out to people whom you don't know would be a stretch. Instead, you might mention that you have modest skills in PowerPoint but would be glad to take workshops or complete online tutorials to upgrade your skills.

Show How You'll Surmount the Challenge

If possible, you should also discuss how you might get yourself up to speed in the least amount of time. For example, you might take a course, complete some online training, or take seminars on the topic. Whenever possible, mention a fundamental strength that would help you to learn whatever you need to learn to make the transition in question. 

Be Honest and Specific 

When it comes to questions that require you to mention something negative, it can be tempting to give a vague response that doesn't truly reveal any weaknesses. As mentioned above, you do want to stay away from pinpointing a challenge that will make you incapable of being in the role. However, dodging the question completely isn't helpful.  For one thing, your interviewer will probably notice. And for another, it can actually be helpful for your candidacy to show that you are aware of areas you'll need to work on, and are capable of formulating a plan of attack.

 

Use the tips above to formulate an answer that is honest, but doesn't work against you as a job candidate. Also, be prepared to answer questions about what part of the jobs will be the least challenging for you.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are some sample responses for when interviewers ask what the most challenging part of the job would be: 

  • One of my big challenges will be adjusting to the new workflow for creating reports to present to clients. Every company has a slightly different process, but of course, you want to avoid revealing to clients that anything feels unfamiliar. I'll aim to ask a lot of questions during my first report, and see if a colleague is available to review it before I share it with the client. That way, by the time my report is in front of the client's eyes, I'll feel fully confident in the process and work. 
     
  • I've previously used Microsoft word processing and presentation software exclusively, and haven't used Google's online equivalents. I'll have to learn a whole new set of keyboard shortcuts! I'll schedule some time to read blog posts that walk through the differences between the two types of software, and also watch some online tutorials, so I can get up to speed. 
     
  • I'm excited by the idea of scheduling an offsite conference, but it'll definitely be a challenge: I've planned personal events before (including a 100-person family reunion!) and organized team-wide holiday dinners, but I haven't organized a corporate event of this size before. If I get this position, one of the first things I'll do is meet with the person who organized last year's offsite to get pointers, and I'll also touch base with a former colleague who planned team-wide conferences for her company. 

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