Ace Your Job Interview

What to say when an interviewer asks, 'How would you overcome an obstacle?'

How to ace the interview question, "How would you overcome a major...

If you're interviewing for a new job, you're probably prepared to answer questions about your past work experience and what you'll bring to the company you're applying to.

So if an interviewer asks a hypothetical question, like, "If you have to overcome a major obstacle that stands in the way of you accomplishing a goal, how would you approach it?" you might be thrown for a loop.

In a recent episode of CNBC's "The Job Interview," in which candidates interview for real jobs while being filmed, one CEO asked applicants this exact question.

Terance Frazier, CEO of TFS Investments in California, interviewed multiple candidates for a personal assistant position at his real estate investment firm. To assess how well a candidate will succeed in a moment of difficulty, the former baseball player asked each person how they would overcome an obstacle to accomplish a goal.

Frazier was seeking a confident answer that didn't sound too calculated, or like the applicant was afraid to say the wrong thing.

One candidate responded with a confusing answer that consisted of many "ummms" and very little eye contact. After asking for the question to be repeated, she finally said, "I would just do whatever I could to overcome the obstacle that's in my way by other means."

She didn't make the cut.

Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide" says that whenever you're asked about dealing with challenges, you should always be as specific as possible. He says the best answers are those that provide an example of how you overcame a challenge in the past to achieve a goal.

Mary Grace Gardner of The Young Professionista says that interviewers are eager to see that you won't crack under pressure.

"When things get intense, [companies] want employees who can handle the stress with grace and ease," she says.

In Frazier's case, the applicant who won him over and eventually landed the job was the one who emphasized how resourceful she was capable of being.

Video by Richard Washington.

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