Tell Me About a Time You Had to Deal With a Difficult Employee |

If you are at a manager level or higher, this is a predictable interview question for you to be prepared for. In this video, I discuss the three parts to your answer and offer an example.

Read Full Transcript

I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, a coach who helps people professionally
in a number of different ways. I've got a great interview question
for those of you interviewing at a manager level and above.
"Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult employee."
Now, we're not talking about a perpetually difficult employee.
Maybe, a difficult employee that kind of surprised you so it seemed difficult to
you. You don't want to make this into an
individual who you tolerated for a long time.
You just want to present it as though . . .. Let me give you an example of the three
points that you want to hit on. How you identified the issue, the steps
that you took to quickly resolve the problem,
and how you prevented it from happening again. Three quick points. You can
synthesize any story you like into those three points
which, again, are how you quickly identified the problem,
the steps that you took to quickly fix it,
and what you did to prevent it from happening again.
So, if I were making up something, it might be something along the lines of
I took over a group and we had a
a couple of early team meetings and i noticed
one of the senior people in the group was not acting as i expected them to be
They seemed grumpy. They seemed unhappy. Generally, they were difficult
in the meetings. So what I did was i spoke with them in private
and questioned why they were acting in this particular way.
He came up with his explanation as an excuse but it just was an excuse.
So, what I did was . . . and, again, this is the action that she took to rectify the
problem. i basically pointed out that he
is a senior individual and had a responsibility
just like the rest of the team members, to act appropriately
and that didn't involve him being negative or her being critical
or being disruptive in any way. Change was going to happen. Maybe
i wasn't going to be in this role for the next 20 years but clearly
there was an expectation that while i was in this role,
i expected them to perform at a high level. And, what you did to
resolve it going forward . . . obviously you monitored behavior but more importantly
you did something proactively to maybe give them a project to work on
that had a degree of importance, that inspired he or she
and made them feel important in this scenario.
i know it's rewarding a bad behavior but if you can create it
in a way, if you can create the story in a way that lets people
see how for this individual and their eyes lit up
and you'd heard wonderful things about them previously
and that what was happening is they were languishing,
It will go a long way toward making this a productive story.
So, i hope you found this helpful i'm. Jeff Altman my website is Go to the site and go exploring. There's
just a lot there to help you.. In addition, if you're interested in
one-on-one coaching, you can schedule time for a free discovery call
or schedule time for coaching. I'd be happy to help.
i also want to mention if you have a question for me,
if you want to receive a three to five minute video back,
go to
and you can order a video from me there.
If you want to speak with me live, go to
and you can schedule 15 minutes with me to have your
questions answered.. Lastly, subscribe to the channel on
YouTube. Click the small icon in the lower right
Or the picture of me in the upper left to get notified whenever i release
something new. Have a terrific day and, more importantly
Be great! Take care


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes and “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was named a Top 10 podcast for job search. is also a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

If you have a quick question for me, you can get it answered with a 3-5 minute video at at 30% of what I charge through my website. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I

function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Like me on Facebook.

Join and attend my classes on Skillshare. Become a premium member and get 2 months free.

Watch my videos on YouTube at, the Job SearchTV app for FireTV or for AppleTV, Roku and 90 other devices

Join Career Angles on Facebook and receive support, ideas and advice in your current career and job.

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter | NoBSJobSearchAdvice.comResume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.” If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle.”

Would you like to talk through a salary negotiation or potential negotiation you’re involved with? Order and schedule time with me.

Do you have questions or would like advice about networking or any aspect of your search. Order and schedule time with me.

Would you like me to critique your resume. Order a critique from me

Jeff’s Kindle book, “You Can Fix Stupid: No BS Hiring Advice,” is available on Amazon.


#toughinterviewquestions #difficultinterviewquestions #managerinterviewquestions #directorinterviewquestions #vpinterviewquestions #difficultemployee #difficultemployeeinterviewquestions

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: