The answer that is killing your interview

Part of my work involves syncing up with hiring managers around what type of candidates they are looking for, including skills, strengths, cultural fit, etc. When digging into a hiring manager’s ‘wish list’ I also find it helpful to hear about what doesn’t work — what things will move a candidate to the no pile.

One thing that will move you from a sure-hire to a heck-no? Giving an answer or telling a story which showcases a lack of grit.

/grit/ courage and resolve; strength of character.

That well known question “tell me about a challenge you faced…” is really an opportunity for the listener to hear if you have grit. Do you take charge or do you play the victim? Do you purposefully impact your surroundings or allow them to dictate what you do?

We all face challenges but the key is, do you overcome or do you allow your situation to prevent you from becoming successful?

Hiring managers want to hire someone who won’t fall down when they run into adversity. They want someone who will THRIVE when things get tough.

Hailee Steinfeld has the right idea.

I remember early in my career when I ran into (what was then) one of my most challenging experiences in a professional setting: working with someone with whom I had value, personality, and communication conflicts. During that time I’m sure my friends and family were sick of me going on and on (and on) about how this person was negatively impacting my career and how unfair it was. It wasn’t until a mentor sat me down and said plainly “you cannot control this situation; you can only control how you react to it” that I realized how badly I was playing the victim.

From that moment on, instead of complaining, I took charge of my own experience. I changed my perspective and decided to exercise a little grit.


It’s easy to become discouraged in job seeking. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there! And there are many excuses you can tell yourself: you’re too inexperienced, too experienced, your resume is non-traditional, your resume lacks spark. And those things may all true (at different moments/jobs)! It’s easy to become a victim, but instead…dig deep and find grit to pull yourself through.

And the next time you are preparing for an interview, ask yourself: ‘are my answers showcasing grit or a case of victim-itis?’