Bad responses to a job interview question: 13 variations on a theme

Below are 13 possible answers to a common job interview question. I don’t recommend you use any of them.

“Describe a time when you were challenged.”


What does that have to do with anything?


Describe a time when I was challenged? By a “job?” Please. Nothing so banal as a mere job can challenge me, and if you think your little “opportunity” would be different you are a far greater fool than I thought.


Every day is challenging to me. Getting out of bed is challenging. Life is challenging. Not bursting into tears when someone looks at me or speaks to me is challenging. Stop looking at me!

bad job interview
Stop looking at me! (Ambro via


Oh, there was this one time when someone challenged me. He didn’t think I knew what I was doing. He said “muzjik” was a made up word even though it is totally legal. So I told my nephew, “Sorry, little boy. I’ve been playing Scrabble a long time, and I’m not going to dumb down my game just because I’m playing with an 8 year old.”


My mother challenged me once. Just once.


At my old job I was on a team that didn’t respect my authority. One day we were all in the conference room. No one would even consider my suggestions. I got so frustrated I started to cry. I yelled at them, “Why won’t you listen to me? I have an MBA and a PMP. Why won’t you listen to me? Fine. You don’t want my help? I quit. Seriously. I quit. Good luck planning this holiday party without me, assholes!”


I’m not challenged. I challenge others. In fact, let’s go. Right now. Arm wrestling. Come on. Let’s do this.


I’d prefer not to talk about that.


One time I was meditating in the desert when Satan came to me in a dream.

“How can you believe in God when there is so much suffering in the world?”

I replied, “My faith in the Lord is unwavering. You cannot challenge my faith.”

He vanished in a puff of smoke.


No. Why don’t you describe a time when you were challenged. Not so fun now, is it?


The first time I killed a man was a challenge, but it got easier. Much, much easier.


You want to know what challenges me? You want to know what challenges me? Trying to remember a specific example of a time when I was challenged that is substantively different than the example I gave for a time when I solved a problem or the one I gave for a time when I had to convince someone of something or what I told you for a time I faced a dilemma or the time I had to overcome an issue. What are you using for an interview guide, a goddamn thesaurus?!


Can you repeat the question?

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