Being asked to identify the biggest challenge in a new role can be tough. But it can also be a golden opportunity to showcase your abilities. This is your chance to shine by showing you can recognize potential issues, highlight your eagerness to learn and show a positive attitude. Show you can use lessons learned from previous challenges to improve work performance. The reason interviewers love this question is that it shows how you handle a challenge. Ultimately, this is your chance to show that you and the job are a perfect match.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Doing your research about the position ahead of time will help you prepare for this question and other interview questions.
Striking a Balance
Answering the “biggest challenge” interview question requires a delicate balance. You want to appear confident and capable without giving the impression that you think the job will be a breeze. This is also a great opportunity to show that you have researched, and fully understand, what the job will entail. Use your answer to demonstrate how you have overcome past challenges, your capacity for learning new skills and your determination to make the most of the position.
Ticking all the Boxes
Getting to know the job description inside-out will help you prepare for this question and others. That way, you can hone in on parts of the job that you are most suited for and also identify what areas you will find challenging. Think about how your experience, skills and knowledge match up and have examples ready to illustrate how you have overcome similar or related challenges in the past.
Understanding the Bigger Picture
In most cases, it makes sense to highlight a challenging aspect of the job that isn’t absolutely crucial to the role. For example, if you’re applying for a copywriting position, it’s probably best not to suggest you aren’t a total whizz with words. Instead, you could talk about the strengths that make you suitable for the role while admitting you are relatively new to some of the technology used, but have been researching those aspects and are confident of your ability to learn.
Offer a Solution
This question also gives the interviewer an indication of how you respond to challenges — in other words, are you a positive team player who is willing and able to face any potential problems head-on? To show that you are, think not only about the challenges but how you might solve them. By working with your teammates, for example, learning from colleagues or volunteering for extra training. Again, if you can demonstrate having overcome similar challenges in the past, that will help you to answer the question with a positive spin.
Do Your Research
Focusing on different management systems or ways of working could be a good way to answer the question. First, it shows you’ve done your homework on the company and that you know exactly what the role entails. Secondly, it shows a real willingness and enthusiasm to fit into the company and its culture. It’s a chance to demonstrate that you are flexible and a team player. Be prepared to elaborate, for example comparing the new role to a previous way of working, and addressing how you would handle that transition.
Don’t Dodge the Question
It could be tempting to be vague or to avoid admitting anything that might reveal weakness. But chances are an interviewer asking this question is looking for honesty and self-awareness. The best employers are investing in your growth and will be looking for candidates who are able to recognize any shortfalls and to address them. And showing that you relish a challenge can only be a good thing.
Getting the "biggest challenge" question in a job interview might seem like a challenge in itself, but it's actually an opportunity to impress your interviewer with your preparation. Do your homework before your appointment, and use this time to showcase skills she might not have touched on.
Ella Buchan is a UK-based writer with a B.A. Hons in English Literature and an M.A. in Journalism. She regularly writes on business topics for company blogs and websites.