Tell Me About a Time When You Had Difficulty Making a Presentation


During the interview process of your job search- you may often get asked two kinds of questions. The first type are specific questions that ask about your education and experience. Hiring managers also typically ask behavioral interview questions. These are more general and less focused on specific aspects of a job. One example of a behavioral question is ‘Tell me about a time when you had difficulty making a presentation.’

When you as a candidate is asked a question wherein you must give a specific scenario- a hiring manager is trying to learn more about your specific work abilities. An interviewer wants to hear about a situation in which you dealt with a real issue and came out successful. This question in particular is designed to evaluate your problem-solving skills. Other similar questions may be worded more generally- such as ‘Tell me about when you experienced a problem-‘ or ‘Give me an example when something didn’t go exactly as you planned.’

The problem with these questions is a job applicant must have a story or situation that truly answers the prompt. The other tricky part is to make sure your answer makes sense and showcases your ability to overcome problems and think quickly. The best method of answering questions like this is to use the popular STAR method.

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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About a Time When You Had Difficulty Making a Presentation’ Behavioral Interview Question

Start With a Strong Example. With most behavioral interview questions- the key is to give an example. Since this question specifically asks for a situation related to a presentation- you must think back to your work and educational experiences and tell about one of them. The best example should be of a time when you were able to use your resourcefulness in order to overcome a challenge during a presentation. The interviewer wants to see how you found success in the face of difficulty.

Show Your Thought Process. Another way to answer this type of question is to walk the interviewer through your thought process. If you had a situation where everything was going wrong during a presentation- discuss what was going through your mind as things started falling apart. Then- go into the steps of how you dealt with each issue. This is a great way to give the hiring manager an idea about your critical thinking skills. This can also help an interviewer understand the way you approach difficult situations.

Demonstrate Your Problem-Solving Ability. It’s also important to help the hiring manager see your problem-solving aptitude. Employers want workers who are able to take initiative in order to tackle challenging tasks in the workplace. Your ability to solve problems should be expressed in the type of story you tell when answering questions dealing with challenges you have faced in the past. With this specific question- you can give the hiring manager a taste of how you go about analyzing problems and the strategies you use to solve them.

Use the STAR Method. Finally- the best piece of advice for tackling any type of behavioral question is to take advantage of the proven STAR method. This technique simplifies the way you should answer behavioral questions so you get a clear and concise answer that delivers a powerful response. Here is how it works:

  • • S – Start by talking about the situation that was happening where you had to give a presentation, such as, what it was about, who it was for and where it took place.
  • • T – Then, give details about the task you had to complete and the problems you encountered during the presentation.
  • • A – Discuss the actions you took in order to solve the problems, demonstrating you were able to complete the original task.
  • • R – End with the result of your actions. Be sure to stress that you were able to learn something positive from the experience.

Sample ‘Tell Me About a Time When You Had Difficulty Making a Presentation’ STAR Interview Answer

A few years ago I had to give a medical presentation in front of a large audience of hundreds of physicians at a hotel conference. Right before the presentation began, I realized that the audio wasn’t working. I tracked down the hotel manager and asked about the audio settings. The manager tried to brush me off, but I persisted. Finally, I was able to get someone who could help with the sound. The audio technician was able to fix it, and I began my presentation. My speech came a few minutes late, but everyone was busy enjoying the provided coffee and donuts that I had ordered for the event. No one really noticed the delay, but I learned it’s important to be persistent when you don’t get the answer you require from someone.

Behavioral interview questions are one of the ways that hiring managers assess your personality and skills in a job interview. You can shine when answering these questions if you carefully craft your answers to show your best moments.