Interview questions at CDW

We analyzed 742 interview reviews for CDW from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

16 frequent non-technical questions at CDW:

Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Name a time you had to convince someone to do something they did not want to do
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?
Give me an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tell me about yourself
What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it
Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
What are your drivers? What motivates you?
Describe the most challenging work problem you faced in your last job

According to our research, hiring managers at CDW ask soft skills interview questions 68% more than at other companies:

CDW interview question statistics

1. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customertop question

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company.

    • How did you feel?
    • How did you want to be treated?
    • How would the situation ideally be resolved?
    • If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer?
    • What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation?

    Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant.

    Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea).

    Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers.

    Research the company you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform).

    Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

Add the extra “A” - Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.5x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

2. Name a time you had to convince someone to do something they did not want to do

How to answer

Just about every organization is filled with diverse employees that are often called upon to collaborate on projects.

Each one of these individuals may believe that their ideas are the best.

Anytime you are collaborating with others, disagreements are bound to happen, and convincing others to do things your way is an important skill in any workplace.

Employers ask this question because they want to know that you are thoughtful in your persuasion tactics and can back up your position with research and facts.

  1. About Yourself

    Do you remember a time when you had to convince someone of something in a work setting? It may have been getting a raise, negotiating a business deal, completing a sale, resolving a conflict, pitching an idea, etc.

    • Are you both initiative and persuasive?
    • Are you passionate and articulate enough to influence people to action?
    • Can you think critically about problems and communicate your ideas well?
    • Are you able to provide a different perspective to others to help convince them of your view?
    • Are you able to stay patient and friendly in such situations?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company reading the job description and listing skills and responsibilities that the hiring manager is looking for.

    • What personal and professional qualities do they value?
    • How do employees value each other?
  3. About The Fit

    Share a story where you successfully influenced others on the right decision for a project or initiative.

    Try to pick a story that would not only answer the persuasion question but also showcase a skill needed for the position you are interviewing for.

    Your story should display positive behaviors of influence, such as using data and inspiring trust rather than fear.

    Your answer should also display your ability to think critically about a problem and come to a sound solution.

    Tell your story using the STAR method. Be sure the story you pick ends in success.

Pro Tip

Do not tell a story where you manipulated others into following your idea. Remember, the story you tell should be one where you have the right idea or decision.

If you’ve never had to convince somebody of something, then give an example of how you would do it. Your convincing strategy should be data-driven, not opinion driven. Opinions are not convincing enough.

Statistics

This question is asked 31.3x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

3. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.9x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

4. Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the times you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for the customer? How did you exceed expectations?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Have you found any reviews online that can help you identify what the company's greatest challenge is? What are their standards for treating customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's standards and ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications.

    If you can remember more than one example, choose the one that fits best with the company industry and standards. Make sure you describe the positive outcome both for the customer and the company.

    Use the STAR method to craft your story.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always the best way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 6.2x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

5. Give me an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it

How to answer

Hiring managers ask this question because they want someone who is not just goal-oriented but also is able to achieve those goals.

They want to see if you are the right person who knows how to utilize your strengths, to gauge your potential to fulfill your given responsibilities.

Asking this question, they are able to get to know if you can set personal and career goals and then dedicate yourself to achieving them.

And, most importantly, they want to understand how you view success, failure, and risk-taking.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of an example from past work (or student experience if you are just starting out in your career).

    Choose an example that shows several competencies and your best personal qualities.

    Tell your story using the STAR method. Keep it professional, not personal.

    • What was the situation that led to setting your goal?
    • What steps did you take to achieve your goal?
    • How did it help you, your team or your employer at the time?
    • What did you learn? What challenges did you overcome?
    • How did this help you get to where you are today?
  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are the current goals and environments?

    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
    • What skills and qualities do they value the most?
    • What will you be responsible for?

    Make sure your qualities match the values and qualities that the company is looking for.

  3. About The Fit

    Give an example of a goal you both set and achieved.

    Ideally, this should be a professional goal, such as improving time management skills, achieving new performance targets or learning a new skill.

    Your answer should provide a list of the steps you took towards your goal.

    Keep this section brief, as they are more interested in finding out what you have learned from the process and how you will use this in your career.

    Talk about how achieving your goal has made you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, giving you a better understanding of how to approach your work assignments.

Pro Tip

Having a goal that you have set and reached shows that you have determination, drive and can finish what you set out to do.

Here is an example of how you can answer this question:

When I started working for XYZ, I wanted the title “Employee of the Month”. It was a motivational and challenging task for me. I liked the work and the people I worked with and set out to help my colleagues, supervisors and clients in every way I could - which is something I would have done anyway. The third month I was there, I was honored as the Employee of the Month. It was good to achieve my goal, and I actually found myself in a management position pretty quickly, I think, because of my positive attitude and perseverance.

Statistics

This question is asked 16.4x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

Statistics

This question is asked 44% less frequently at CDW than at other companies.

7. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Statistics

This question is asked 66% less frequently at CDW than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

My name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

Hello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

Hi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

Hi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

1 / 5

8. What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?

How to answer

It’s important to know how to answer a job interview question about mistakes.

They ask questions like this to learn how you handle challenges.
They also want to determine your weaknesses, and decide if you have what it takes to do the job well.

It’s a chance for the interviewer to see that you can learn from your mistakes and use the experience to get better.

  1. About Yourself

    Do your best to tell a positive story about how the mistake was made, how you dealt with it and what learned from it.

    We all make mistakes from time-to-time. Answering some of the following questions will help you understand your own view of dealing with mistakes and their consequences.

    For instance:

    • How do you use a mistake to improve your abilities?
    • Are you self-aware enough to acknowledge failure and weakness?
    • Do you take smart risks?
    • How do you view success, failure, and risk in general?
    • Do you take responsibility for past mistakes instead of putting the blame on others?
    • If the situation repeats, what would you do differently? What would you do again?
  2. About The Company

    Before the interview, look over the job listing, research the company.

    Try to think of a mistake you have made in the past that is not too closely related to the requirements of the job you are interviewing for. What kind of challenges might you face if you get the job here?

  3. About The Fit

    It’s your opportunity to emphasize the skills or qualities you gained from your past negative experience that are important for the job you’re interviewing for now.

    Put a positive spin on your response by defining the “mistake” as a “learning experience” that led to your increased competency in the workplace.

    Talk about a specific example of a time you made a mistake. Briefly explain what the mistake was; quickly switch over to what you learned, or how you improved, after making that mistake.

    You might also explain the steps you took to make sure that mistake never happened again. Say that something you may have struggled with in the past has actually now become one of your strengths.

    Pick a story that ends with a compelling example of a lesson learned. Tell your story using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Make absolutely sure that the interviewer understands that you learned from the experience.

Never blame others for what you did (however, if you were part of a team failure, you could relate this experience, just be sure to own up to your part in it).

Always be accountable for what you could have done differently in the failure. Demonstrate that you’ve had the maturity to benefit from previous “lessons learned” and you can move on with increased wisdom and competency.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.7x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

9. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 26% less frequently at CDW than at other companies.

10. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in a company. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities, especially if you are applying for a job that involves teamwork, or a lot of interactions with clients.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember a few such situations and how you diffused them and turned things around. What are your approaches to resolving conflicting situations at work?

  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?
  3. About The Fit

    Using what you found about the company, choose one of your examples that fits best with the company standards and share your story.

    If it's a customer, how did you turn things around and made a customer happy?
    If it's a coworker, how did you diffuse a tense or difficult situation?

Pro Tip

Use the triple A of diffusing a difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you "Ask" for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.0x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

11. Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it

How to answer

Everyone faces some awkward, difficult, and possibly even dangerous situations on the job once in a while.

The interviewers aren’t asking you this question to remind you about any stress you have experienced in the past or so that you can complain about your old job. They are asking you this question to see how you handled the situation.

It says a lot about you as an employee and as a person. They want to know how you will deal with an unprepared situation that might arise during your work tenure.

  1. About Yourself

    Try to think of a time when outside forces created a stressful situation.

    • What was the context?
    • What was the challenge?
    • Did you step in?
    • Were you able to create a solution that could make everyone happy?
    • What did you learn from that situation?
    • How would you handle this situation should it happen again in the future?

    Avoid examples that make you seem indecisive or uncertain, and keep your answer positive.

    This is your chance to show that you have problem-solving skills. Showcase these skills using the STAR method, which will help you effectively organize your response when answering this type of question.

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company. What challenges and kinds of situations may you face in your new role?

    Read carefully the job description and the list of responsibilities required.

  3. About The Fit

    Do your best to ensure your interviewer that you are a person who can identify, isolate, and solve problems.

    Ultimately, it doesn't matter how big of a difficulty you had with any particular project. What really matters is the process of how you overcame that difficulty and whether you are capable of handling difficult situations in the future.

    Choose your example wisely: if you're looking at a team leader or manager role, it might be better to talk about a people issue rather than technical.

    If you're looking at a developer or architect role, then highlight something more technical.

    Name your soft skills as well, such as project management, dealing with difficult people, pushing back requirements that were inadequate, etc. Talk only about your fits which are relevant to the job you want to get.

Pro Tip

Any company would prefer to hire a mature person, capable of rising above complex situations.

Therefore, make it a point to describe a situation in which you utilized your strong personal and professional skills. Emphasize how the situation helped you grow in different aspects of life.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.6x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

12. Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the time you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for him?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Read online reviews and any other available information.

    • What are their standards for treating customers?
    • What complaints have you seen that can give you a hint of some of the challenges associated with customer service?
  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications. Now think of how these requirements are met by how you went above and beyond for a customer.

    Frame your story in terms of your STAR method:

    S - What was the Situation?
    T - What was your Task?
    A - What Action did you take?
    R - Talk about the Results.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always an excellent way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 51% more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

13. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Statistics

This question is asked 61% less frequently at CDW than at other companies.

14. Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?

How to answer

This question lets an interviewer gauge what makes you tick and whether the job you are applying for corresponds with your areas of excitement and enthusiasm. Such a fit will earn you important points for being a viable candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Review the details that you shared in your resume. Select the three to five best points to highlight and relate to the position to which you're applying.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description.

    Find out what duties you'll be taking on to determine which of your top skills to emphasize. Try to find out what current challenges they are trying to solve by opening this vacancy.

  3. About The Fit

    Knowing the duties for which you will be responsible will help you identify which prior experiences to highlight.

    How well you connect your previous experiences with the job requirements can tell the interviewer how prepared you are for this role and how enthusiastic you will be about your job.

Pro Tip

Do not start your answer with "as you can see from my resume," even if you have listed those skills and qualities.

Instead, tell a story showing that you can solve problems similar to their current challenges and that you are enthusiastic about this.

You can best do this through constant practice of your STARs.

Statistics

This question is asked 70% more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

15. What are your drivers? What motivates you?

How to answer

Motivation is what we use to drive ourselves forward to complete tasks and bring results.

Why do hiring managers ask this question?

They want to get a sense of your personality. But more importantly, they want to see your resiliency and determination.

They do not want to hire someone who will quit when encountering difficulties, whose focus will be elsewhere, or who will just waste their time.

Enthusiasm ranks very high on the list of qualities employers are looking for in a candidate.

If you can demonstrate that you are genuinely passionate about your profession and interested in the position you are applying for, your chances of getting hired will improve significantly.

  1. About Yourself

    This question requires serious self-examination; you should be asking it yourself long before the interviewer does.

    Look back on everything you’ve done in your life, job, and career so far.

    • What was it about your best days that made them the best?
    • Can you take those feelings and apply them to specific moments from your life and past work experiences?
    • Are you ready for tough projects or for being asked to do something that isn’t quite on your job description, or for having to stay at work till late instead of another team member?
    • Will meeting deadlines, learning new things, finding a way to solve problems or overcoming a challenge inspire you and make you want even more?
    • What gives you a sense of accomplishment when you can look back on and say "I achieved that"?

    Look deep inside.

    Analyze your experience by types of tasks, by type of environment, type of feedback, level of responsibility and stakes? Do you prefer independence, or being part of a team?

    1. Task type: if you were given a whole day or even week at work to focus on just one of your tasks, without interruptions or multitasking, which one would that be? Why?
    2. Environment: do you feel motivated in a dynamic environment with lots of action, communications, deadlines? Or would you rather disconnect from the outside world and immerse into a single task, with your headphones on?
    3. Feedback: are you better motivated by positive feedback, or by healthy criticism? Or maybe by customers’ smiles and “Thank you” messages?
    4. Responsibility and stakes: are you motivated to do your best when you know that the stakes are high and your contribution will make a great impact on the bottom line? Or do you feel better in a more safe and relaxed environment when someone else is responsible for making big decisions?
    5. Financials: what is the salary range that makes you feel comfortable and respect yourself? Let’s be realistic, this is one (although definitely shouldn’t be the first) of the drivers.

    Be creative, this list is not exhaustive.

  2. About The Company

    Take a long look at the job you’re applying for.

    • What kinds of tasks will you be responsible for?
    • What will the environment be?
    • What do you know about the possible kinds of feedback you will be receiving?
    • What is the level of stakes in this role?
    • What do you know about the salary they can possibly offer?
  3. About The Fit

    How comfortable are you with the drivers the company can offer, comparing to those of your own? Pick those that have a match and give some examples.

    For instance, if you’re applying for a software engineer job, describe how you are motivated by solving complex technical challenges.

    If the job involves teamwork, give an example showing that you love collaborating and accomplishing big things as a part of a team.

    That is what drives you to do your best each day. You can say you enjoy meaningful work creating products that change people’s lives, if this is relevant to the company.

Pro Tip

Be enthusiastic. The more enthusiasm you have for what motivates you, the more enthusiasm the interviewer will have for you!

Statistics

This question is asked 2.5x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.

16. Describe the most challenging work problem you faced in your last job

How to answer

Everyone faces problems in the workplace, it’s how we deal with them that matters most.

The problems you faced in your previous workplace actually tell future employers a lot about your problem-solving strategies and abilities.

You can expect that some employers – especially those that consider themselves high stress or those that are replacing someone that struggled with problem-solving – are going to ask you questions about workplace problems to learn more about how you reacted.

It’s a complicated question to answer because different people handle challenges in different ways.

  1. About Yourself

    So, how should you talk about your strategy to approach tough situations?

    Try to think about the actual most challenging thing you did, or just pick something that was really difficult, but you succeed at it in the end.

    The situation should be real. Perhaps you went above and beyond to meet a tight deadline while taking over the responsibilities of a coworker who was out sick? Or you took a course, completed an online training, or attended seminars on a topic that was new for you, but necessary to match your qualifications to the position's requirements?

    Make sure your story isn't boring: interesting is a keyword here. Use the STAR method to demonstrate your positive approach to problem-solving.

  2. About The Company

    Take a moment to consider the role and the daily tasks you’d be engaged with.

    • What kind of problems might come about?
    • What difficulties can you possibly encounter because you will be working directly with clients or in a big team?
    • Do you have to communicate a lot, or would problems be more technical in nature?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Your answer is an opportunity to highlight your fit for the role and the work environment.

    This question allows the interviewer to reflect on how you handled past challenges and use this to make predictions about your future capabilities. It might help them to realize you’re a good fit.

    When employers ask such questions, they are looking for some specific details relevant to the job.

    For example, if you are interviewing for a customer service role, highlight how you’ve managed to deal with a difficult situation in customer service.

    On the other hand, if your future role would be very technical, you might talk about a technical challenge you’ve overcome.

Pro Tip

Sometimes it is hard to come up with “Big” challenges but that does not mean you never had to face down a problem.

I’m sure that you have solved problems in the past, you might just have to dig deep to come up with a few that you resolved to make your point.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.3x more frequently at CDW than at other companies.


This page has been updated on August 12, 2020.

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