One of my favorite free interview questions is...Describe the toughest challenge you ever faced and how you worked through it.
As a general rule, you want to share work related challenges, not personal challenges.
However, there is a key exception which we will cover shortly.
Sometimes companies will substitute the word challenge with problem.
If your interviewer asks you, What was the greatest problem you ever faced?, turn it around by replying, My greatest challenge was...
Most interviewers will pick up on your subtle word change and give you a few Brownie points.
I like the word challenge instead of problem because challenge is a more positive word.
A good memory jogger is to consider sharing challenges/problems you faced in 3 broad situations:
It doesn't matter if you are a manager or not. What actions did you personally take to overcome a major challenge?
If you are in your early career, the only challenges you may have faced so far might be personal in nature.
Examples of appropriate personal challenges to share with your interviewer:
The above personal challenges are too controversial and could scare off a prospective employer.
Successfully overcoming these types of challenges is admirable, but most people won't be able to identify with you unless they've had a similar experience.
They just won't get it.
Treat these successes as personal victories. Only share them with friends and family who love you unconditionally.
Focus on the challenges of the job. You're being hired to solve their problems and help the company succeed.
Note: If you can't pass my job interview skills quiz you're probably not ready for your job interview.