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Prepping the Answer

interview question
Megan Boyle
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Published on May 26, 2014

No two interviews are ever the same when meeting with potential employers.

The setting and tone can vary between interviews but there always seems to be a common question asked: How did you overcome a challenge or dealt with a difficult situation? Knowing that this question will be asked in one form or another, I always have an answer prepared. It consists of an actual event in my life that I had to think quickly in order to overcome a challenge.

It’s not dramatic.

It happened on my first day of work and it was filled with lessons that all new employees face. For me, this experience best suits the answer to the question. It’s short; it’s precise; it allows me to answer the question. Having an answer already in mind also reduces the stress of the interview portion.

Here is my go-to answer on how I overcame a challenge:

“I work for the student-run newspaper at my university and I was covering my first men’s basketball tournament. Being a freshman, and from a large sports school, this was a really big deal. I was so excited for this opportunity that everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I underestimated the time it would take me to get to the arena so I showed up minutes before tip-off–not a good move. My laptop died as I was writing my copy at half-time which left me writing game notes by hand the rest of the second half. (Do you know how fast paced a basketball game is?)

When it was time to go into the press room for post-game interviews I discovered my recorder had barely any battery life yet. It lasted through one round of interviews before that died on me as well.

Nervous about not having enough sources, I had to think quickly. Before the coaches portion of the interview began I ran and put my iPhone on the table. My purple glittery case stood out against the black and white professionalism of the other media members’ devices.

But what was I to do? I had to think on my feet and that seemed like my best option.

After my first day out in the field I learned something: always be prepared.

My actions were nothing less than unprofessional and I did not want to represent my organization in that light. So now, whenever I am out covering an event, I always make sure I am prepared. I learned from this experience and now I make sure I arrive at the event early in case I get lost or have any altercations, my laptop is always fully charged, I carry spare batteries, and for good measure, I change my phone case to something a little more professional looking.”

About the Author:

My name is Megan Boyle, I’m from New Jersey and am currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m pursuing a double major in English Literature and Communications.

Megan Boyle

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