Behavioral Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Handled A Difficult Situation

Tell Me About A Time You Handled A Difficult Situation

Behavioral Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Handled A Difficult Situation


So, you’re wondering how to talk about a difficult situation and confidently answer that question when they ask you, “Tell me about a time you handled a difficult situation.”

You’re in the right place.

In this post, I’m going to break down the exact way to answer this question and the the job when they’re talking about difficult situations.

Stay tuned.

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So even in the most difficult of situations, there is an opportunity to shine, show how you’re different, and show how your thought process works as a solution-focused person who takes initiative.

That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

There are many different types of difficult situations that you may find yourself in.

In this post, we will use an example of having to make a decision without having all the information at hand.



I’m sure most of us can relate to that, a decision where you don’t know what the right thing to do is.

What we want to do is show your thought process.

Show that your intent was good, why you made the decision you made. And in the example, I’m going to show you what works well.

And because of how you can handle a difficult situation, this is going to make you stand apart from other candidates.


So for example, here’s how you would answer it in a step-by-step format.


Step 1: Situation


I was asked to book a flight for a candidate who was being flown in by our company for a really important interview. The day they wanted the interview to happen was the only day that everyone was available, candidate, all the managers. So when I check the flights for the day, they were all very highly priced, more than I paid for a flight before.

So, what do you do?


Step 2: Action


First, I tried to contact the manager but he wasn’t available. He was out of town, not responding. I knew the flight prices were going up, and I had to make a decision fast. So, I decided to book the ticket anyway, even though it was over budget.

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Step 3: Result


What happened?

When the manager was back, I let him know how much the ticket cost right away.

He said, “Holy! That expensive.”

He didn’t seem happy about it at first. Then, I explained to him why I did it. I showed him that I was aware of the cost, but I felt that I didn’t have a different option. He understood. So, I made the suggestion of how we could save on other things to even out the cost for this ticket.

He appreciated that thinking, and it turned out well. The candidate came in for the interview, and he was hired. It was a successful decision. Now, it might not have been, but I didn’t know that at the time.

The point is that I made a decision

Did I make the right decision?

No one never knows with 100% certainty if that decision is right or not. But, something needed to be done or the candidate and interviewers would have been left waiting, rescheduled way farther in advance, could have lost the candidate. Any number of things could have happened.


Step 4: Interesting features


Airline prices are tricky. I did some research on this, and happened to find out a few different tricks to get cheaper flights. I’d love to share these with you if you’re ever needing a flight booked.

So, that brings in your value to the answer as well. I learned it takes more courage to make a tough decision than to make no decision.


In conclusion


There you have it: The answer to Behavioral Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Handled A Difficult Situation.

Mistakes candidates often make when they answer this question includes stating that they haven’t ever been in a difficult situation or stating that the situation wasn’t really that difficult.

They’ll tell a story like they had to call in sick one day and they weren’t really sure if they should or not, or they were afraid to ask a question and they weren’t sure if they should get turkey or roast beef for lunch, silly things like that.

Those are not real difficult situations. Some people say they never been in a difficult situation. Well, I think you have to have been or you wouldn’t be alive today.


Here’s some simple starting points that you can use to think of your difficult situations. Let’s start small.


Have you ever double-booked yourself and committed to being in two places at one time?

How did you handle that? That says a lot about you.

Have you ever not had enough time or information to do something, like I shared in the example? How did you handle that? That says a lot about you, too.

Also, were you ever on the hook for something that seemed unreasonable to complete?

How did you handle it?

Were you ever in a position where someone else was in danger and you had to make a decision quickly? Any of those would work.

If you’d like more help with these types of interview questions, download my free situational interview guide click here: The Ultimate Situational Interview Q&A Guide


Nailing the interview questions is great! But There is a lot more to interviewing than just answering the questions.

In fact if all you do is answer the questions alone, you’ve already lost the interview.


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What you’ll get inside the guide:


  • Top-ten examples of stories that have proven to be impressive interview answers


  • The S.A.R.I. formula breakdown of how to answer these questions


  • The step-by-step of why it works


  • Fill-in-the-blank templates for each question so, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks and get going!


  • Now you’ll need to come up with your own stories! (You can steal the ones in the guide if they apply to you though too, I don’t mind)


If you are still getting stuck because you can’t think of your own stories…


I’ve included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your stories much quicker!


You’ll get all this in a beautifully designed workbook prepared specifically for you to prepare for your interviews.


By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for any situational interview that comes your way!


Here is some feedback I’ve gotten from this guide, and I get new emails like this every day, and they NEVER get old!




By the end of working through the guide you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that gets thrown your way!

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Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favour and share this info with him/her.


And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.


Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week back here in my digital corner.

In Work & Life
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-Natalie Fisher