Answering the Question, What Part of This Job is the Most Challenging?

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In an 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 what you think are the most challenging aspects of the job.

Steps for Answering The Question

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

 " it's important that you be honest but not rule yourself out as a candidate. The tips below will help you present 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 tasks will be most difficult for you based on your past experiences.

Start by breaking down the job into its various components and thinking about the skills, knowledge, and experiences you need to master each component. You should also think about elements of the job that will require learning or adjustments you'll need to make. Make sure 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 because as a web editor those are core responsibilities of the position.

Selecting a knowledge or skill area that you lack is generally more advisable than choosing a personality trait that would be hard to change. For example, if you're applying for a sales position, you would not mention that reaching out to new people makes you nervous.

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 online training, or take seminars on a topic you need help with. Whenever possible, mention a fundamental strength you possess that would help you overcome the challenge. For example, you might say that you've always been a quick learner. 

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. However, dodging the question is not the way to go. For one thing, your interviewer will probably notice you're not being forthright. And for another, it can actually be helpful for your candidacy if you are aware of areas you'll need to work on, and are capable of formulating a plan of action. 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 sample responses 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 and creating a new type of report to present to clients. My plan would be to ask a lot of questions when preparing my first report. I'll also ask a colleague to review the report before sharing it with the client. 
  • I've previously used Microsoft word processing and presentation software exclusively, and haven't used Google's online equivalents. Although I'll have to learn a whole new set of keyboard shortcuts, I'll devote time to reading blog posts that walk me through the differences between the two types of software, and I'll watch online tutorials. 
  • I'm excited by the idea of scheduling an offsite conference but it'll definitely be a challenge. On the plus side, although I haven't organized large corporate events before, I have planned personal events (including a 100-person family reunion) and team-wide holiday dinners for 200 people. If I get this job, one of the first things I'll do is meet with the person who organized last year's offsite event to get pointers. I'll also touch base with a former colleague of mine who orchestrated offsite conferences for her company. 

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