Top 20 Problem Solving Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

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sample questionnaire for problem solving

By Mike Simpson

When candidates prepare for interviews, they usually focus on highlighting their leadership, communication, teamwork, and similar crucial soft skills . However, not everyone gets ready for problem-solving interview questions. And that can be a big mistake.

Problem-solving is relevant to nearly any job on the planet. Yes, it’s more prevalent in certain industries, but it’s helpful almost everywhere.

Regardless of the role you want to land, you may be asked to provide problem-solving examples or describe how you would deal with specific situations. That’s why being ready to showcase your problem-solving skills is so vital.

If you aren’t sure who to tackle problem-solving questions, don’t worry, we have your back. Come with us as we explore this exciting part of the interview process, as well as some problem-solving interview questions and example answers.

What Is Problem-Solving?

When you’re trying to land a position, there’s a good chance you’ll face some problem-solving interview questions. But what exactly is problem-solving? And why is it so important to hiring managers?

Well, the good folks at Merriam-Webster define problem-solving as “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” While that may seem like common sense, there’s a critical part to that definition that should catch your eye.

What part is that? The word “process.”

In the end, problem-solving is an activity. It’s your ability to take appropriate steps to find answers, determine how to proceed, or otherwise overcome the challenge.

Being great at it usually means having a range of helpful problem-solving skills and traits. Research, diligence, patience, attention-to-detail , collaboration… they can all play a role. So can analytical thinking , creativity, and open-mindedness.

But why do hiring managers worry about your problem-solving skills? Well, mainly, because every job comes with its fair share of problems.

While problem-solving is relevant to scientific, technical, legal, medical, and a whole slew of other careers. It helps you overcome challenges and deal with the unexpected. It plays a role in troubleshooting and innovation. That’s why it matters to hiring managers.

How to Answer Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Okay, before we get to our examples, let’s take a quick second to talk about strategy. Knowing how to answer problem-solving interview questions is crucial. Why? Because the hiring manager might ask you something that you don’t anticipate.

Problem-solving interview questions are all about seeing how you think. As a result, they can be a bit… unconventional.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill job interview questions . Instead, they are tricky behavioral interview questions . After all, the goal is to find out how you approach problem-solving, so most are going to feature scenarios, brainteasers, or something similar.

So, having a great strategy means knowing how to deal with behavioral questions. Luckily, there are a couple of tools that can help.

First, when it comes to the classic approach to behavioral interview questions, look no further than the STAR Method . With the STAR method, you learn how to turn your answers into captivating stories. This makes your responses tons more engaging, ensuring you keep the hiring manager’s attention from beginning to end.

Now, should you stop with the STAR Method? Of course not. If you want to take your answers to the next level, spend some time with the Tailoring Method , too.

With the Tailoring Method, it’s all about relevance. So, if you get a chance to choose an example that demonstrates your problem-solving skills, this is really the way to go.

We also wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!

Click below to get your free PDF now:

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FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you " word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview .


Top 3 Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

Alright, here is what you’ve been waiting for: the problem-solving questions and sample answers.

While many questions in this category are job-specific, these tend to apply to nearly any job. That means there’s a good chance you’ll come across them at some point in your career, making them a great starting point when you’re practicing for an interview.

So, let’s dive in, shall we? Here’s a look at the top three problem-solving interview questions and example responses.

1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a challenging problem?

In the land of problem-solving questions, this one might be your best-case scenario. It lets you choose your own problem-solving examples to highlight, putting you in complete control.

When you choose an example, go with one that is relevant to what you’ll face in the role. The closer the match, the better the answer is in the eyes of the hiring manager.


“While working as a mobile telecom support specialist for a large organization, we had to transition our MDM service from one vendor to another within 45 days. This personally physically handling 500 devices within the agency. Devices had to be gathered from the headquarters and satellite offices, which were located all across the state, something that was challenging even without the tight deadline. I approached the situation by identifying the location assignment of all personnel within the organization, enabling me to estimate transit times for receiving the devices. Next, I timed out how many devices I could personally update in a day. Together, this allowed me to create a general timeline. After that, I coordinated with each location, both expressing the urgency of adhering to deadlines and scheduling bulk shipping options. While there were occasional bouts of resistance, I worked with location leaders to calm concerns and facilitate action. While performing all of the updates was daunting, my approach to organizing the event made it a success. Ultimately, the entire transition was finished five days before the deadline, exceeding the expectations of many.”

2. Describe a time where you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?

While this might not look like it’s based on problem-solving on the surface, it actually is. When you make a mistake, it creates a challenge, one you have to work your way through. At a minimum, it’s an opportunity to highlight problem-solving skills, even if you don’t address the topic directly.

When you choose an example, you want to go with a situation where the end was positive. However, the issue still has to be significant, causing something negative to happen in the moment that you, ideally, overcame.

“When I first began in a supervisory role, I had trouble setting down my individual contributor hat. I tried to keep up with my past duties while also taking on the responsibilities of my new role. As a result, I began rushing and introduced an error into the code of the software my team was updating. The error led to a memory leak. We became aware of the issue when the performance was hindered, though we didn’t immediately know the cause. I dove back into the code, reviewing recent changes, and, ultimately, determined the issue was a mistake on my end. When I made that discovery, I took several steps. First, I let my team know that the error was mine and let them know its nature. Second, I worked with my team to correct the issue, resolving the memory leak. Finally, I took this as a lesson about delegation. I began assigning work to my team more effectively, a move that allowed me to excel as a manager and help them thrive as contributors. It was a crucial learning moment, one that I have valued every day since.”

3. If you identify a potential risk in a project, what steps do you take to prevent it?

Yes, this is also a problem-solving question. The difference is, with this one, it’s not about fixing an issue; it’s about stopping it from happening. Still, you use problem-solving skills along the way, so it falls in this question category.

If you can, use an example of a moment when you mitigated risk in the past. If you haven’t had that opportunity, approach it theoretically, discussing the steps you would take to prevent an issue from developing.

“If I identify a potential risk in a project, my first step is to assess the various factors that could lead to a poor outcome. Prevention requires analysis. Ensuring I fully understand what can trigger the undesired event creates the right foundation, allowing me to figure out how to reduce the likelihood of those events occurring. Once I have the right level of understanding, I come up with a mitigation plan. Exactly what this includes varies depending on the nature of the issue, though it usually involves various steps and checks designed to monitor the project as it progresses to spot paths that may make the problem more likely to happen. I find this approach effective as it combines knowledge and ongoing vigilance. That way, if the project begins to head into risky territory, I can correct its trajectory.”

17 More Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

In the world of problem-solving questions, some apply to a wide range of jobs, while others are more niche. For example, customer service reps and IT helpdesk professionals both encounter challenges, but not usually the same kind.

As a result, some of the questions in this list may be more relevant to certain careers than others. However, they all give you insights into what this kind of question looks like, making them worth reviewing.

Here are 17 more problem-solving interview questions you might face off against during your job search:

  • How would you describe your problem-solving skills?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to use creativity to deal with an obstacle?
  • Describe a time when you discovered an unmet customer need while assisting a customer and found a way to meet it.
  • If you were faced with an upset customer, how would you diffuse the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a complex issue.
  • Imagine you were overseeing a project and needed a particular item. You have two choices of vendors: one that can deliver on time but would be over budget, and one that’s under budget but would deliver one week later than you need it. How do you figure out which approach to use?
  • Your manager wants to upgrade a tool you regularly use for your job and wants your recommendation. How do you formulate one?
  • A supplier has said that an item you need for a project isn’t going to be delivered as scheduled, something that would cause your project to fall behind schedule. What do you do to try and keep the timeline on target?
  • Can you share an example of a moment where you encountered a unique problem you and your colleagues had never seen before? How did you figure out what to do?
  • Imagine you were scheduled to give a presentation with a colleague, and your colleague called in sick right before it was set to begin. What would you do?
  • If you are given two urgent tasks from different members of the leadership team, both with the same tight deadline, how do you choose which to tackle first?
  • Tell me about a time you and a colleague didn’t see eye-to-eye. How did you decide what to do?
  • Describe your troubleshooting process.
  • Tell me about a time where there was a problem that you weren’t able to solve. What happened?
  • In your opening, what skills or traits make a person an exceptional problem-solver?
  • When you face a problem that requires action, do you usually jump in or take a moment to carefully assess the situation?
  • When you encounter a new problem you’ve never seen before, what is the first step that you take?

Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to approach problem-solving interview questions. Use the tips above to your advantage. That way, you can thrive during your next interview.

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sample questionnaire for problem solving

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

About The Author

Mike simpson.

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Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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Interview Questions

50 Interview Questions About Problem Solving (With Answers)

Problems often arise at work. Can you solve them? Here are 50 interview questions about problem solving to know about.

March 22, 2024

Working in a company, you’ll be tasked with projects to work on that solve problems. Maybe you’ll need to solve a problem to help achieve a specific goal or create a solution to a problem that helps your business’ customers. Either way, problem solving is an important skill in the workplace. This post will include 50 interview questions about problem solving with answers to help you prepare for these types of interviews.

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What is problem solving?

Problem solving is a critical soft skill that involves identifying, analyzing, and resolving issues or obstacles effectively and efficiently. It encompasses a series of steps including understanding the problem, brainstorming potential solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each option, and implementing the most viable solution. Problem solving is not only about finding quick fixes but also about foreseeing potential challenges and addressing them proactively. It requires creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to remain calm under pressure, making it a highly valued skill in personal and professional contexts alike. Whether it's navigating interpersonal conflicts, troubleshooting a technical issue, or overcoming logistical hurdles, adept problem solvers are equipped to tackle a wide array of challenges, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and improvement.

problem solving

Why problem solving is important in the workplace

1. enhances adaptability.

In today's fast-paced work environment, the ability to engage in effective problem solving is crucial. It allows employees to adapt quickly to changes, challenges, and unexpected situations. By developing strong problem-solving skills, individuals can analyze issues, identify solutions, and implement strategies efficiently, ensuring the smooth operation of workplace processes.

2. Promotes Innovation

Problem-solving skills are the backbone of innovation within the workplace. When employees are equipped to tackle challenges creatively, they can generate novel ideas and solutions that drive the company forward. This skill not only aids in overcoming immediate obstacles but also contributes to the long-term development and competitiveness of the organization.

3. Improves Team Collaboration

Effective problem solving often requires a collaborative effort. When team members possess strong problem-solving skills, they can work together more effectively, sharing insights, and combining their expertise to find the best solutions. This not only leads to better outcomes but also fosters a culture of cooperation and mutual respect among colleagues, enhancing overall workplace morale and productivity.

solving hard problems

5 Tips for Answering Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Problem-solving is a critical skill that employers look for in candidates across various industries. Demonstrating your ability to tackle challenges effectively can set you apart from other applicants. Here are five tips to help you showcase your problem-solving skills during an interview:

1. Use the STAR Method

Structure your responses using the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method. Start by describing a specific situation or problem you encountered, outline the task you needed to accomplish, detail the actions you took to address the problem, and finish with the results of your efforts. This method helps you deliver a concise and compelling story that highlights your problem-solving prowess.

2. Highlight Your Analytical Skills

Employers want to see that you can analyze a situation and come up with a logical solution. When answering questions, talk about how you break down complex problems into manageable parts. Mention any tools or techniques you use, such as SWOT analysis, root cause analysis, or critical thinking strategies, to diagnose issues and develop solutions.

3. Show Adaptability

Problem-solving often requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Share examples of how you've had to adjust your approach when faced with new information or unforeseen challenges. This demonstrates your resilience and willingness to pivot your strategy to achieve the best outcome.

4. Emphasize Collaboration

Many problems are too complex for one person to solve alone. Talk about times when you've collaborated with others to tackle a challenge. Highlight your ability to listen to different perspectives, integrate feedback, and work as part of a team to find innovative solutions. This shows that you value diverse input and can leverage collective intelligence to overcome obstacles.

5. Reflect on Lessons Learned

Finally, don't shy away from discussing problems that didn't go as planned. Reflecting on what didn't work and what you learned from those experiences can be just as powerful as showcasing your successes. It demonstrates self-awareness, accountability, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Be sure to end on a positive note by explaining how these lessons have enhanced your problem-solving abilities moving forward.

By following these tips and preparing thoughtful, specific examples, you'll be able to convincingly demonstrate your problem-solving skills in your next interview. Remember, it's not just about the problems you've solved, but how you've solved them that will impress potential employers.

working towards a solution

1. Can you describe a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem at work?

In a previous role, our company faced a significant customer dissatisfaction issue due to a software glitch that caused frequent service disruptions. As the project manager, I had to lead a cross-functional team to identify the root cause, develop a solution, and implement it swiftly to restore customer satisfaction. It involved collaborating with the IT team, customer support, and product development to conduct a thorough analysis, prioritize fixes, and communicate transparently with customers to manage expectations and regain trust.

2. How do you approach complex problems in your professional life?

I approach complex problems by first breaking them down into smaller manageable components to gain clarity on the issue. Then, I gather relevant data, analyze trends, and identify patterns to understand the underlying factors contributing to the problem. Collaborating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds helps gain different perspectives and insights. I also prioritize actions based on urgency and impact, continuously evaluate progress, and adapt strategies as needed to achieve effective solutions.

3. What is your process for identifying the root cause of a problem?

My process for identifying the root cause involves asking probing questions, conducting thorough research, gathering data and feedback from stakeholders, analyzing trends and patterns, and using problem-solving techniques such as root cause analysis (RCA) or the "5 Whys" method. I focus on understanding the systemic issues rather than just addressing symptoms to ensure long-term solutions.

4. Can you give an example of a creative solution you've implemented to address a challenging issue?

In a project where budget constraints were hindering progress, I proposed implementing a lean approach by prioritizing essential features, streamlining workflows, and optimizing resource allocation. This creative solution allowed us to deliver key functionalities within budget and timeline constraints while maintaining quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

5. How do you prioritize problems that need to be solved?

I prioritize problems based on their impact on organizational goals, customer experience, urgency, and resource availability. I categorize issues into immediate, short-term, and long-term priorities, considering the potential risks and benefits of solving each problem. Regularly reassessing priorities ensures alignment with evolving business needs and strategic objectives.

6. What tools or methods do you typically use for problem-solving?

I utilize various problem-solving tools and methods depending on the complexity of the issue, including brainstorming sessions, fishbone diagrams, SWOT analysis, process mapping, data analytics, and project management software. Collaborative platforms and communication tools also facilitate effective teamwork and information sharing during problem-solving processes.

7. How do you involve others in the problem-solving process?

I involve others in the problem-solving process by fostering a culture of collaboration, open communication, and shared responsibility. This includes seeking input and perspectives from team members, encouraging diverse ideas and approaches, delegating tasks based on strengths, providing support and resources, facilitating brainstorming sessions or workshops, and recognizing contributions to promote a sense of ownership and accountability in problem-solving efforts.

8. Can you share an experience where you had to solve a problem under a tight deadline?

In a previous project, we faced a critical technical issue just days before a major product launch. The issue threatened the functionality of key features, risking customer satisfaction and revenue. To solve it, I organized a rapid-response team, conducted round-the-clock troubleshooting, prioritized tasks based on impact, and delegated responsibilities efficiently. Despite the tight deadline, we collaborated effectively, leveraged expertise from various departments, and implemented a temporary workaround to ensure a successful product launch. Post-launch, we continued refining the solution for a permanent fix.

9. How do you ensure that a solution is both effective and efficient?

I ensure that a solution is both effective and efficient by aligning it with predefined objectives and success criteria, conducting thorough analysis and testing, seeking feedback from stakeholders, and evaluating its impact on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cost, time, quality, and customer satisfaction. Continuous monitoring and iteration allow me to optimize the solution's efficiency while maintaining its effectiveness over time.

10. What is the biggest problem you have solved in your career?

One of the biggest problems I solved in my career was optimizing a supply chain process for a multinational company. The challenge involved reducing lead times, improving inventory management, and enhancing supplier relationships to meet growing customer demands and reduce costs. By implementing data-driven strategies, process improvements, and cross-functional collaboration, we achieved significant improvements in efficiency, cost savings, and customer service levels, contributing to the company's overall success.

11. How do you deal with uncertainty when solving problems?

When faced with uncertainty, I adopt a structured approach by gathering relevant information, conducting scenario analysis, identifying potential risks and opportunities, and developing contingency plans. I also leverage past experiences, seek input from subject matter experts, and remain adaptable and open to alternative solutions. Clear communication, ongoing evaluation, and agile decision-making help navigate uncertainty effectively and mitigate potential impacts.

12. Can you describe a time when you had to solve a problem without all the necessary information?

In a project where critical data was unavailable due to technical issues, I had to make decisions and implement solutions based on limited information. To address this challenge, I leveraged available data, conducted qualitative analysis, consulted with experts, and communicated transparently with stakeholders about the uncertainties and risks involved. Despite the constraints, we managed to implement a temporary solution and later refined it based on additional insights and data.

13. How do you measure the success of a solution?

I measure the success of a solution by defining clear metrics and KPIs aligned with the problem's objectives and desired outcomes. This includes assessing factors such as cost savings, time efficiency, quality improvement, customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and impact on organizational goals. Regular performance monitoring, data analysis, feedback collection, and stakeholder evaluations help track progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that the solution delivers measurable benefits.

14. What do you do if your initial solution to a problem fails?

If my initial solution to a problem fails, I conduct a thorough analysis to understand the root cause of the failure, gather feedback from stakeholders, and reassess the problem and its context. I then iterate and refine the solution, incorporating lessons learned, alternative approaches, and additional insights to develop a more effective and robust solution. Continuous improvement, flexibility, and resilience are key elements in overcoming setbacks and achieving successful outcomes.

15. How do you adapt your problem-solving strategies in a rapidly changing environment?

In a rapidly changing environment, I adapt my problem-solving strategies by staying informed about industry trends, technological advancements, and market dynamics. I prioritize agility, collaboration, and innovation, regularly reassessing priorities, adjusting strategies, and leveraging emerging tools and methodologies to address evolving challenges effectively. Flexibility, quick decision-making, and a proactive approach to change enable me to navigate uncertainties and drive successful problem resolution.

16. Can you give an example of a time when you had to use data analysis for problem-solving?

In a marketing campaign analysis project, we noticed a significant drop in conversion rates for a particular segment of our target audience. To identify the underlying issue, I conducted a detailed data analysis using customer demographics, behavior patterns, and campaign performance metrics. By correlating data points and conducting A/B testing, we discovered that the drop in conversion was due to a mismatch between the messaging in the campaign and the preferences of that specific audience segment. This data-driven insight allowed us to adjust our marketing strategy effectively and improve conversion rates.

17. How do you differentiate between symptoms and root causes of a problem?

To differentiate between symptoms and root causes of a problem, I employ techniques such as the "5 Whys" method, root cause analysis, and process mapping. By asking probing questions and digging deeper into the factors contributing to the problem, I can identify underlying causes rather than just addressing surface-level symptoms. This approach ensures that solutions target the root of the problem, leading to more effective and sustainable outcomes.

18. Can you discuss a time when you had to solve a problem collaboratively with a team?

In a product development project, we encountered challenges related to compatibility issues between different software components, leading to performance issues and customer complaints. To address this, I facilitated collaborative problem-solving sessions with cross-functional teams, including developers, QA testers, and product managers. Through open communication, brainstorming, and sharing of expertise, we identified the root causes, developed a coordinated action plan, and implemented solutions that resolved the compatibility issues, improving product performance and customer satisfaction.

19. How do you handle feedback on your problem-solving efforts?

I value feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement. When receiving feedback on my problem-solving efforts, I actively listen, seek to understand perspectives, and appreciate constructive criticism. I use feedback to reflect on my approach, identify areas for enhancement, and incorporate suggestions into future problem-solving endeavors. Embracing feedback fosters continuous learning, enhances problem-solving skills, and contributes to achieving better outcomes.

20. What role does critical thinking play in your problem-solving process?

Critical thinking is integral to my problem-solving process as it enables me to analyze situations objectively, evaluate information, identify patterns, and make informed decisions. By applying logical reasoning, sound judgment, and evidence-based analysis, I can discern between relevant and irrelevant data, assess risks, consider alternative solutions, and anticipate potential outcomes. Critical thinking enhances problem-solving effectiveness by promoting thoroughness, accuracy, and strategic decision-making.

21. How do you stay motivated when faced with a complex problem?

When faced with a complex problem, I stay motivated by breaking the problem down into manageable tasks, setting realistic goals, and focusing on incremental progress. I maintain a positive mindset, leverage my problem-solving skills and past successes, seek support and collaboration from colleagues or mentors, and celebrate small victories along the way. Staying organized, maintaining a clear vision of the desired outcome, and reminding myself of the impact of solving the problem keep me motivated and determined to overcome challenges.

22. Can you describe a situation where you had to change your approach to solve a problem effectively?

In a project involving customer feedback analysis, my initial approach focused solely on quantitative data analysis to identify trends and patterns. However, I realized that the qualitative aspect of customer feedback, such as sentiments and specific comments, provided valuable insights that were missed in the quantitative analysis alone. To address this, I changed my approach by integrating qualitative data analysis techniques, such as sentiment analysis and thematic coding, into the process. This holistic approach led to a more comprehensive understanding of customer perceptions and facilitated more targeted problem-solving strategies.

23. How do you balance the need for quick solutions with the need for thorough problem-solving?

Balancing the need for quick solutions with thorough problem-solving involves prioritizing tasks based on urgency and impact. For urgent issues requiring immediate resolution, I focus on quick, interim solutions to address critical aspects and mitigate immediate risks. Simultaneously, I allocate time and resources for in-depth analysis, root cause identification, and long-term solutions to prevent recurrence and optimize outcomes. Effective time management, clear prioritization, and strategic decision-making enable me to strike a balance between speed and thoroughness in problem-solving.

24. Can you discuss a time when you had to solve a problem with limited resources?

In a project where budget constraints limited our ability to hire additional staff, I faced the challenge of increasing operational efficiency without increasing costs. To address this, I conducted a thorough analysis of existing processes, identified inefficiencies, and proposed automation solutions using available software tools. By leveraging technology and optimizing workflows, we were able to streamline operations, reduce manual tasks, and improve productivity without exceeding the budget.

25. What strategies do you use to prevent problems from occurring in the first place?

Proactive problem prevention involves risk assessment, continuous monitoring, and implementing preventive measures. I regularly conduct risk assessments to identify potential issues, develop contingency plans, and implement controls to mitigate risks. Additionally, I emphasize continuous improvement, encourage open communication within teams, and promote a culture of accountability and learning from past experiences to prevent recurring problems.

26. How do you communicate complex problems (and solutions) to stakeholders who may not be familiar with the details?

When communicating complex problems and solutions to stakeholders, I use a structured approach that involves breaking down technical information into easily understandable concepts. I focus on highlighting the impact, benefits, and relevance of the problem and proposed solutions to the stakeholders' interests and objectives. Utilizing visual aids, such as charts, graphs, and diagrams, helps clarify complex information, facilitate discussions, and ensure stakeholders grasp key points effectively.

27. Can you share an example of a time when you solved a problem that significantly benefited your organization?

In a cost optimization initiative, I identified inefficiencies in supply chain management that were leading to increased procurement costs and delayed deliveries. By analyzing data, negotiating contracts with vendors, and implementing process improvements, we streamlined supply chain operations, reduced procurement costs by 20%, and improved delivery timelines. This solution not only saved the organization substantial resources but also enhanced operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

28. How do you incorporate feedback into your problem-solving process?

Incorporating feedback into the problem-solving process is essential for continuous improvement. I actively seek feedback from stakeholders, team members, and subject matter experts throughout the problem-solving journey. I analyze feedback to identify areas for enhancement, consider alternative perspectives and solutions, and iteratively refine strategies based on input received. Regular feedback loops ensure that solutions are well-informed, aligned with stakeholder expectations, and optimized for effectiveness.

29. What is the most unconventional problem-solving method you’ve successfully used?

In a project where traditional problem-solving methods were insufficient, I applied design thinking principles to generate innovative solutions. By conducting empathy interviews, brainstorming sessions, and prototyping ideas, we identified creative solutions that addressed user needs more effectively. This unconventional approach led to breakthrough solutions that significantly improved user experience and product performance.

30. How do you ensure that your solution aligns with the overall goals of your organization?

Aligning solutions with organizational goals involves understanding strategic objectives, engaging stakeholders, and evaluating solutions based on their impact on key performance indicators. I ensure alignment by conducting thorough analyses, seeking input from relevant stakeholders, and assessing how proposed solutions contribute to organizational priorities, such as cost reduction, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, or market expansion. Regular alignment checks and feedback loops help validate that solutions remain aligned with overarching goals.

31. Can you describe a problem you solved that had a positive impact on your team’s performance?

In a team performance improvement project, I identified communication barriers and lack of collaboration as key challenges impacting productivity. I implemented team-building activities, fostered a culture of open communication and collaboration, and facilitated regular feedback sessions. These interventions resulted in improved teamwork, enhanced morale, and increased productivity, leading to measurable performance improvements and positive outcomes for the team and organization.

32. How do you decide when to tackle a problem on your own or to seek help?

I assess the complexity, urgency, and impact of the problem to determine whether I can address it independently or if seeking help is necessary. If the problem requires specialized expertise, collaboration, or resources beyond my capabilities, I proactively seek assistance to ensure efficient and effective problem-solving. I prioritize transparency and open communication to foster a collaborative problem-solving approach.

33. How do you keep track of multiple problems that need to be solved at the same time?

To manage multiple problems simultaneously, I utilize organization tools such as task lists, project management software, and prioritization techniques. I categorize problems based on urgency, importance, and dependencies, establish clear timelines and milestones for each, and regularly review progress to adjust priorities as needed. Effective delegation, communication, and collaboration with team members also contribute to successful management of multiple problem-solving efforts.

34. Can you explain how you evaluate potential solutions to a problem?

When evaluating potential solutions, I consider factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, cost, impact, and alignment with objectives. I conduct thorough analyses, gather relevant data and insights, assess risks and benefits, and compare alternative solutions based on predefined criteria. I prioritize solutions that are practical, sustainable, and aligned with strategic goals, and I seek input from stakeholders and subject matter experts to ensure comprehensive evaluation and informed decision-making.

35. How do you deal with resistance when implementing a solution?

Addressing resistance during solution implementation requires effective communication, stakeholder engagement, and change management strategies. I proactively communicate the rationale behind the solution, its benefits, and the expected outcomes to gain buy-in and mitigate resistance. I listen to concerns, address objections, and involve stakeholders in the decision-making process to foster ownership and collaboration. I also provide support, training, and feedback mechanisms to facilitate smooth adoption and implementation of the solution.

36. Can you describe a time when you had to solve a problem outside of your area of expertise?

In a cross-functional project, I encountered a technical issue that required expertise beyond my domain. Recognizing the challenge, I collaborated with experts from relevant departments, sought their insights, and leveraged their knowledge to understand the problem thoroughly. By facilitating interdisciplinary discussions, conducting research, and learning from experts, I gained the necessary understanding to contribute effectively to problem-solving and drive successful outcomes for the project.

37. How do you ensure that your problem-solving efforts are inclusive and consider diverse perspectives?

Inclusive problem-solving involves valuing diverse perspectives, fostering open dialogue, and creating an environment where everyone's input is respected and considered. I actively seek input from team members with varying backgrounds, experiences, and expertise, encourage brainstorming sessions, and facilitate discussions that promote diverse viewpoints. I promote inclusivity by practicing active listening, empathy, and respect for different opinions, ensuring that solutions are comprehensive, innovative, and reflective of diverse perspectives.

38. Can you share a situation where you had to use emotional intelligence in problem-solving?

During a project with tight deadlines and high stakes, I encountered interpersonal conflicts among team members that were impacting productivity and morale. Recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence, I employed active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution skills to understand each team member's perspectives, address underlying issues, and foster a collaborative and supportive environment. By acknowledging emotions, managing conflicts constructively, and promoting effective communication, I successfully mitigated tensions, restored team cohesion, and achieved project objectives.

39. How do you manage stress and pressure when solving critical problems?

Managing stress and pressure during critical problem-solving involves prioritization, time management, self-care, and resilience-building strategies. I prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, break down complex problems into manageable steps, and set realistic expectations and timelines. I practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, exercise, and time management, seek support from colleagues and mentors, and maintain a positive mindset to navigate challenges effectively and maintain focus on problem-solving objectives.

40. Can you explain a time when you had to prioritize long-term solutions over quick fixes?

In a previous project, we encountered recurring quality issues that required immediate attention. While quick fixes could address the immediate symptoms, I advocated for a comprehensive root cause analysis to identify underlying systemic issues. By prioritizing long-term solutions, we implemented process improvements, updated quality control measures, and provided training to team members. This approach not only resolved the immediate issues but also prevented future occurrences, leading to sustainable improvements and long-term success.

41. How do you adapt your problem-solving approach based on the audience or stakeholders involved?

Adapting problem-solving approaches involves understanding stakeholders' preferences, priorities, and communication styles. For technical audiences, I focus on data-driven analyses, detailed reports, and solution feasibility. When engaging non-technical stakeholders, I emphasize clear explanations, visual aids, and real-world examples to ensure understanding and alignment. I tailor communication channels, formats, and frequency to suit stakeholders' preferences, fostering collaboration, buy-in, and successful problem resolution.

42. Can you discuss a time when you had to use negotiation skills in problem-solving?

During a project negotiation, conflicting interests arose between departments regarding resource allocation and project timelines. To resolve the impasse, I facilitated negotiations by identifying common goals, exploring compromise options, and advocating for win-win solutions. Using active listening, empathy, and persuasive communication, I bridged differences, built consensus, and reached agreements that satisfied all parties' needs. This collaborative approach not only resolved conflicts but also strengthened relationships and promoted cooperation.

43. How do you incorporate new technologies or methodologies into your problem-solving toolkit?

Incorporating new technologies and methodologies into problem-solving requires continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation. I stay updated on industry trends, attend training sessions, and seek opportunities to apply emerging technologies such as data analytics, automation, and AI in problem-solving. I collaborate with experts, conduct pilot projects, and evaluate results to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of new approaches. By embracing innovation, I enhance problem-solving capabilities, drive efficiencies, and deliver value to organizations.

44. Can you describe a time when your problem-solving led to innovation within your organization?

In a project focused on streamlining operations, I identified inefficiencies in existing processes and proposed innovative solutions leveraging digital tools and automation. By collaborating with cross-functional teams, conducting workflow analyses, and piloting new technologies, we implemented streamlined workflows, reduced manual tasks, and improved efficiency. This innovation not only optimized operations but also enhanced employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and organizational competitiveness.

45. How do you ensure that your solutions are sustainable and environmentally friendly?

Ensuring sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions involves considering ecological impacts, resource conservation, and long-term viability. I prioritize sustainable practices such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, and eco-friendly materials in solution design. I collaborate with sustainability experts, conduct lifecycle assessments, and integrate environmental considerations into decision-making processes. By promoting green initiatives, I contribute to environmental stewardship, corporate social responsibility, and positive societal impact through problem-solving efforts.

46. Can you share an example of a cross-functional problem you solved?

In a previous role, we faced a cross-functional challenge related to customer retention. The marketing team identified a decline in customer engagement, while the sales team noticed an increase in churn rates. Collaborating with both teams, I led a comprehensive analysis to identify root causes. We discovered that misaligned messaging between marketing campaigns and sales interactions was confusing customers. By implementing a unified communication strategy, aligning marketing messages with sales processes, and enhancing customer touchpoints, we improved customer satisfaction, reduced churn rates, and increased revenue.

47. How do you mentor others in developing their problem-solving skills?

Mentoring others in problem-solving involves providing guidance, encouragement, and opportunities for skill development. I mentor by sharing my problem-solving experiences, providing frameworks, and encouraging critical thinking. I offer constructive feedback, challenge assumptions, and encourage diverse perspectives to foster creativity and innovation. I also create learning opportunities such as workshops, case studies, and collaborative projects to help mentees apply problem-solving techniques in real-world scenarios and enhance their skills over time.

48. Can you describe a situation where you had to overcome significant obstacles to solve a problem?

In a complex project, we encountered unforeseen technical challenges that threatened project timelines and deliverables. Despite initial setbacks and resource constraints, I led the team in brainstorming sessions, leveraging expertise from various departments, and exploring alternative solutions. We overcame obstacles by fostering collaboration, adopting agile methodologies, and prioritizing problem-solving efforts. Through perseverance, resilience, and adaptability, we successfully resolved technical issues, met project milestones, and delivered high-quality outcomes.

49. How do you balance logic and intuition in your problem-solving process?

Balancing logic and intuition in problem-solving involves leveraging analytical thinking and creative insights. I start by gathering data, analyzing facts, and applying logical frameworks to understand the problem's scope and complexity. Then, I tap into intuition by brainstorming ideas, exploring unconventional approaches, and considering potential outcomes from different perspectives. I combine rational decision-making with gut instincts, test hypotheses, and validate solutions to ensure effectiveness and innovation in problem-solving.

50. Can you discuss a time when you had to revisit and revise a solution based on new information or outcomes?

In a strategic initiative, we implemented a new process to streamline operations and improve efficiency. However, after implementation, we noticed unexpected challenges and suboptimal results. Recognizing the need for continuous improvement, I initiated a review process, gathered feedback from stakeholders, and conducted performance evaluations. Based on new insights and outcomes, we revisited the initial solution, identified areas for enhancement, and revised the process to address gaps and achieve desired outcomes effectively. This iterative approach ensured that our solutions remained adaptive, responsive, and aligned with evolving needs and objectives.

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  • Behavioral Interviews

Answering Problem-Solving Interview Questions: Tips and Examples

Answering Problem-Solving Interview Questions: Tips and Examples

Problem-solving skills are difficult to describe and quantify: they’re a combination of different hard and soft skills such as logical inference, technical knowledge, adaptability and innovation, leadership potential, decision-making, productivity, and collaboration.

All are crucial for developing expertise and delivering results at work — especially when the going gets tough.

And because problem-solving is so important, you’re almost guaranteed to get asked about it in a job interview. Read on, and make sure no problem-solving question catches you off guard.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to answer problem-solving job interview questions
  • Types of problem-solving questions
  • Why recruiters ask these questions and what your answers might reveal
  • Sample answers for the main types of problem-solving questions

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How to Answer Problem-Solving Job Interview Questions

Here’s how to understand the intention behind problem-solving interview questions and create an informative answer that will highlight your expertise and potential.

Understand the problem-solving question and why recruiters ask it

Reflect on your thought process, be specific, follow up with clear outcomes, use the star method.

Hiring managers and recruiters want to know how you identify roadblocks, analyze information, and overcome challenges. These challenges can vary from specific, technical issues to more general issues like improving company processes or handling interpersonal relationships.

To put these skills to the test, recruiters use “problem-solving” job interview questions, also known as analytical questions. Here are some common ones:

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Describe a time when you didn’t know how to solve a problem. What did you do?
  • Describe how you approach a complex or difficult problem.

Here’s what these questions help recruiters discover:

Your adaptability and innovation

Are you an out-of-the-box thinker who’s open to new ideas and who can handle uncharted waters easily?

Efficiency and productivity

Are your problem-solving skills contributing to the team’s performance, removing bottlenecks, smoothing out processes, and keeping projects on track?

Collaboration and communication

Are you successfully collaborating with others to find solutions? Are you handling people-related problems effectively?


Can you efficiently evaluate different options and reach a decision independently? Can you make sound decisions to minimize risks and maximize benefits and opportunities?

Leadership potential

Are your problem-solving skills so good that they open up new opportunities for you to move in the leadership direction ?

Problem-solving interview questions are not tied to a specific role and industry. Mastering your problem-solving skills will help you stand out from the competition and be more successful in your role, whatever it may be.

And if you need help with answering other common interview questions, sign up for our free course !

Be mindful of your thought processes when you face a difficult problem.

Is your initial reaction to panic or are you calm and enthusiastic to tackle it? Is the problem stopping you from focusing on everything else you’re working on? Do you look at the problem as a whole or do you break it down?

Understanding how you think and approach the problem will help you know yourself and improve your problem-solving skills, but it’ll also make it easier to answer these tricky questions during an interview.

Tailor your answers to problem-solving interview questions so that you cover specific details, actions, and skills relevant to the position. If possible, list the results and share lessons learned from an experience you’re describing.

We’re not saying you should lie and make up a story about your problem-solving skills for each position you apply for; remember that this is a broad set of skills and you surely have something relevant from your past experience that you can bring up.

💡 For example, if you’re a Customer Service Representative applying for the same role in another company, you can speak about how you solved a customer’s problem or how you helped the team switch to a new CRM tool and transfer all the data.

💡 If you’re applying for a leadership role in the customer service field, you can speak about how you handled an interpersonal problem within a team or how you spotted bottlenecks and modified processes to make the team more efficient.

💡 If you’re moving to a Sales position, you can highlight your selling experience and talk about a time when you had to solve a customer’s problem and you managed to upsell them in the process.

Prove you have outstanding problem-solving skills by listing clear outcomes for every problem you solved. They can be quantitative or qualitative.

💡 Fixed a process? Say that it improved team productivity by X%.

💡 Handled a difficult client? If they became a VIP customer later on, mention it.

💡 Resolved a conflict? Describe how the experience helped you strengthen the bonds in a team.

💡 Solved a complex technical problem? Say that you got a bonus for it, or that you expanded and improved the existing documentation to help coworkers in the future.

Whenever possible, use the STAR (situation-task-action-result) method in your answer:

  • (S) ituation: Describe the situation and provide context.
  • (T) ask: What tasks you planned on doing to tackle the issue, your contribution.
  • (A) ction you took (step-by-step).
  • (R) esult of your efforts.

It’ll help you create a well-rounded answer that’s informative and engaging. Plus, using this method to prepare answers in advance will help you memorize the story quickly and easily.

✅ Bear in mind that not every problem-solving interview question can be answered with a STAR method. Some questions will be very specific and will ask for quick and short information about a certain tool or similar. Other questions, the ones beginning with “Give me an example when…” or “Tell me about a time when…” will be the perfect opportunity to use the STAR method.

Also, remember that there’s never a single correct answer to a problem-solving question, just like there usually are multiple solutions to a given problem — a study on the hospitality industry revealed that the most successful problem-solving strategies applied in the workplace were always very specific to given circumstances.

Questions about your problem-solving skills are just one group of the standard interview questions, you can be almost sure you will get asked. Prepare for other interview “classics” with our dedicated guides:

  • Tell Me About Yourself: Sample Answers
  • Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
  • Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
  • What Are Your Strenghts?
  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
  • How Do You Handle Conflict?
  • Why Should We Hire You?
  • Why Do You Want to Work Here?

If prepping for a video interview, learn what to expect from this guide: Video Interviewing Tips & Tricks

And if you’re interested in interviewing for specific positions, see:

  • Sales Interview Questions and Answers
  • Customer Service Interview Questions and Answers
  • Customer Service Manager Interview Questions and Answers
  • Behavioral Interview Questions for Customer Service

Types of Problem-Solving Job Interview Questions

How do you approach complex problems.

  • Can you provide an example of a challenging issue you’ve encountered and how you resolved it?

How do you prioritize multiple tasks when faced with tight deadlines?

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult problem at work. How did you solve it?
  • Tell me about a time when your team faced a problem and you helped to find a solution.

Describe a situation in which you received criticism for your solution to a problem. How did you handle that?

Can you provide an example of when you had to collaborate with a team to solve a work-related problem.

  • Can you describe a situation where you had to use your problem-solving skills to make a decision?

How would you respond if a high-priority project was suddenly delayed, jeopardizing the deadline?

Imagine a scenario where your manager was unavailable, but a client had an urgent issue – what would you do, if you encountered a high-stress situation that required you to stay calm and focused, how would you handle it.

  • Imagine you’re faced with a tight deadline, but you’ve encountered a significant roadblock. How would you handle this situation?
  • How would you assess and resolve a performance issue in a web application?
  • Describe your approach to troubleshooting a networking issue that spans multiple devices.
  • How would you approach debugging a piece of software with limited documentation?
  • How would you deal with an angry VIP customer if your boss was away?
  • What would you do if you noticed a decline in the ROI of your team?
  • How would you troubleshoot an error in a software product that has been released to customers?

1. General problem-solving questions

These questions aim to discover your general approach to problems and challenges.

Interviewers want to know how you approach the process of solving complex problems. Do you jump straight into it or do you take a step back, break the problem down into manageable components, analyze the info you have, and then dive in?

Can you provide an example of a challenging issue you’ve encountered and how you resolved it?

Can you assess a situation and find the most appropriate solution? Can you handle the pressure? Do you take the lead during difficult times? Are you able to take responsibility for the outcomes?

This question is more specific than the previous one, so make sure you think about a situation in advance and prepare your answer using the STAR method.

Big Interview’s Answer Builder can help you shape your answer. You’ll be able to list and filter the points you’d like to mention, add details and rearrange the order to create a compelling story.

Plus, you’ll get bite-sized tips on how to answer the most common interview questions while you’re in the Builder.

Recruiters want to know how you set criteria based on which you’ll set priorities, how and if you juggle between multiple tasks, and how you communicate and collaborate with other people involved.

General problem-solving sample answer

“Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult problem at work. How did you solve it?”

Behavioral questions about problem-solving

Behavioral questions ask for specific situations from your past in which you displayed a certain behavior. Based on it, recruiters hope to predict how you’ll perform in the future.

Tell me about a time when your team faced a problem and you helped to find a solution

This one’s asked to assess your teamwork and cooperation skills in tough situations.

Interestingly, a 2015 study on problem-solving in the workplace showed that when it comes to expertise-related problems, employees rarely relied on trial-and-error or information retrieval as modes of problem-solving.

Instead, they mostly relied on help from others, that is, their coworkers who they believed were experts on the subject matter.

This puts emphasis on the importance of teamwork and collaboration in problem-solving. And you certainly noticed how easier it gets to solve a problem (or brainstorm a new idea) as a group, when different individuals bring fresh, unique ideas to the table.

So, recruiters want to know if you’d be cooperative and open to a teamwork experience, and these factors might hint at how you’ll fit in with the team.

This one checks how you handle feedback and criticism — it’s challenging, but it’s essential for growth.

In your answer, make sure you depict a situation in which you demonstrated that growth mindset and the ability to see that taking criticism is not a sign of weakness (or a personal attack on you) but a unique opportunity to learn something new.

Similarly to the first question in this group, this one aims to see how you perform in a team and solve problems collectively.

According to a study , in a team, task completion can be independent , when each team member completes their own activities, sequential , when activities go from one team member to another, reciprocal , when activities are done back-and-forth between team members, or intensive , when all team members work on activities and problem-solving simultaneously.

Recruiters want to get to know more about your ideal teamwork process model and how you connect with others to solve problems.

Your answer will tell them if you’re a good team problem-solver, team player, and if you’re able to give and share credit, as well as take responsibility if something goes wrong.

Behavioral problem-solving sample answer

“Can you describe a situation where you had to use your problem-solving skills to make a decision?”

Situational problem-solving questions

Situational problem-solving questions put you in a hypothetical situation, present a problem, and ask for your opinion/solution.

Even if you haven’t encountered a similar situation in the past, it will help you to draw parallels from your experience to create answers to these questions.

Your answer to this question will tell recruiters about your flexibility, time and task organization, prioritization, as well as how you handle pressure.

An ideal employee will be able to think quickly and adapt to unforeseen circumstances, all the while remaining calm and composed. You’ll want to aim at displaying these qualities in your answer.

Taking the lead and taking calculated risks shows that a person has outstanding problem-solving skills and is not afraid to take initiative, which shows leadership potential.

Your answer to this question needs to demonstrate your ability to quickly analyze information, weigh pros and cons of a situation, and make decisions on the spot. This is especially important if you’re applying for leadership positions, like a team leader or a project manager.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to assess your ability to handle stress, make rational decisions, and maintain a focused approach in tricky, high-pressure situations.

Make sure to provide them with relevant examples from your past that will paint a picture of your skills and abilities. This is especially relevant for high-pressure positions such as police officers, lawyers, financial analysts, and similar.

Situational problem-solving sample answer

“Imagine you’re faced with a tight deadline, but you’ve encountered a significant roadblock. How would you handle this situation?”

Technical questions about problem-solving

Technical problem-solving questions are based on the technical knowledge that underlies each role. They aim to check your expertise or the means by which you connect the dots or obtain information if you don’t possess it.

Will you sort through the documentation to find a solution? Or is your first reaction to recall a past experience? Perhaps you prefer connecting with an expert or a coworker with more experience than you. Or you’re the type of person to synthesize your existing knowledge and try to find a solution through trial and error. Maybe you’ll turn to a book or a course? Whatever it is, recruiters would like to know.

There are many ways to solve these problems and your preferred strategies will give recruiters insight into how you think and act.

Examples of technical questions about problem-solving are:

💡 Bear in mind that, with the rapid development of AI, the majority of technical tasks might be overtaken by robots in the future. That’s why it’s important that you work on your non-technical skills, too. Employers are already admitting that problem-solving skills are the second most important skill they’re looking for. For this reason, researchers are working hard to find and develop frameworks for helping people improve their problem-solving capabilities — you can read more about it in this paper on problem-solving skills among graduate engineers .

Technical problem-solving sample answer

“How would you troubleshoot an error in a software product that has been released to customers?”

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Problem-Solving Interview Questions: Popular Opinions vs. Expert Advice

Now that we covered different types of problem-solving questions and how to answer them, we decided to dive into popular forums and see what job-seekers have to say on this topic. We picked pieces of advice that resonated with the community and confronted them with expert-backed best practices. Let’s see where we stand.

IndianaJones Jr on Reddit said : “If I was an interviewer asking this question, I would expect a personalized answer relevant to yourself, not to specific projects. At least that’s my interpretation.

“What are your experiences in problem-solving?” 

Sample answer: Generally, when I’m working on a project I find it’s easier to start at the end and work backwards. I use that to get a broad strokes idea of where my work needs to take me on any particular project and then I head in that direction. I find that when I get to specific problems I can get too stuck on using tried and true methods so I try to encourage myself to use out-of-the-box solutions. For example [your example here]…”

Career expert comments:

The “bones” of this sample answer are solid. It puts emphasis on breaking down the candidate’s thought process and displays patterns through which the candidate solves problems and learns along the way. However, the most important part of the answer — the actual example of a candidate’s problem-solving skills put to practice — remains a placeholder. Remember, the more specific you get in your answer, the better the impression you make on the interviewer. So here, I recommend paying equal attention to a specific situation in which you solved a problem and using the STAR method to tell that story.

Ambitious_Tell_4852 , when discussing the question “Give an example of a challenge you faced and how you overcame it,” said: 

“Clearly, that is the standard trick question designed for a prospective new hire to tell a prospective employer about his/her professional weaknesses. Oldest “negative Nelli’’ question imaginable during the interview process. Always keep your answer thorough and positive albeit sickeningly sugar-coated! 😁”

This is, straight-out, a bad piece of advice. If an interviewer wants to hear about your weaknesses, they will ask “What is your greatest weakness?” 

A question about overcoming a challenge isn’t a trick question at all. I’d argue it’s actually an opportunity to share some of your proudest wins. But when it comes to answering this question, it’s true that your answers do need to be thorough and positive. This doesn’t mean you need to sugar-coat anything, though. Interviewers don’t want to hear you downplaying your challenges. On the contrary, they want to hear you speak about them honestly and explain what you learned from them. And being able to do so puts a healthy, positive spin on the situation. To put it shortly: provide a real example from your past, answer this question honestly, and emphasize the results and lessons learned. 

Here’s an opinion from a hiring manager, Hugh on Quora, about how to answer a question about a time you needed to solve a problem:

“It really doesn’t matter what the problem you describe is or how you solved it. What I am looking/listening for is 1) the size of the problem (the bigger, the better, a broken shoelace before going out on a date is not an impressive problem) and 2) a step-by-step process to a satisfactory solution (if suddenly all variables fell into place does not show me that you solved the problem — you were just there when it solved itself).

I am also looking/listening for an example of how you solve a problem after you are hired. I may have to explain it to my superiors, and I would like to know that I have a complete and accurate story to tell.”

Career expert comments:  

A good piece of advice from someone who has first-hand hiring experience. When talking about problem-solving, a detailed description of your process is key. The only thing I wouldn’t agree with is having to choose a “big” problem. If you do have experience solving a big problem, that’s great. But sometimes you won’t have a major problem to talk about, and it largely depends on your level of experience and your position. So pick a relevant difficulty, even if it’s not that big, in which you displayed skills relevant to the role you’re applying for.

  • Problem-solving skills encompass your logical inference, technical knowledge, adaptability and innovation, leadership potential, decision-making, productivity, and collaboration.
  • Because these skills are important in the workplace, there’s a variety of problem-solving interview questions recruiters will ask to assess you.
  • Some of them include behavioral, situational, or technical problem-solving questions.
  • In order to answer these questions, you need to be aware of your thought processes when faced with a problem.
  • In your answer, be as specific as you can and use the STAR format whenever possible.
  • Make sure to highlight outcomes, results, or lessons learned.
  • As always, the best strategy is to anticipate these questions and prepare rough answers in advance. Including practicing your answer so you’re confident for your interview.


Need help with your job search? There are 3 ways we can help you:

  • Tired of interviewing and not landing the job? Discover actionable lessons and interview practice here (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
  • Learn how to talk about your proudest accomplishments without bragging or underselling yourself.
  • Learn how to answer tricky questions about conflict resolution in the workplace.

How can I improve my problem-solving skills?

Stay in the loop with new technologies and trends. Accept challenges and problems as a way to grow, don’t panic over them. Acquire a systematic approach to analyzing problems, break them down into smaller components which will help you discover root causes and devise a solution plan. Practice logical thinking, evaluating evidence, and staying objective. And give yourself time. Perhaps not surprisingly, studies suggest that the more business experience you have, the better you become at problem-solving.

Are there specific resources available to practice problem-solving interview questions?

There’s a variety of resources available to you, such as courses and Youtube tutorials, Facebook/LinkedIn groups, forums such as Reddit and Quora, books, or online platforms like Big Interview. If you’re trying to develop technical problem-solving skills, you might benefit from relevant platforms’ knowledge bases or YT channels; but if you’re looking specifically for how to answer interview questions, platforms like Big Interview are the way to go.

How should I handle a question about a problem-solving scenario I have not encountered before?

Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions for clarification. If you’ve never dealt with this problem before, be honest about it but answer how you would solve the problem if you were faced with it today. Break the problem down into manageable steps, try to recall a similar situation from your own experience that could help you draw parallels, and propose several different solutions.

Can I talk about my problem-solving experiences derived from non-professional settings such as student projects?

Yes, especially if you’re a recent graduate or a candidate with limited experience. You can use experiences and examples from student projects, extracurricular activities, and you can even use examples from your personal life, as long as you present them in a professional manner and connect them to the position you’re applying for. Remember to highlight the results, as well as the skills that helped you solve the problem and that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when answering problem-solving questions during an interview?

The most common mistake is not preparing in advance which causes rambling. You need to make sure that your answer is informative and well-structured, and that you’re not only presenting a solution but also laying down the steps to display your logical reasoning. Make sure not to forget to give credit to teammates if they contributed to solving the problem you chose to talk about. Finally, for a coherent and informative presentation, make sure you use the STAR method.

What can I do if I don’t know the answer to a technical problem-solving question in an interview?

Handle it professionally. You can always try to reach a conclusion by breaking down the problem and thinking out loud to show your thinking mechanism. Draw parallels between the problem at hand and another similar problem you encountered before. Lay down possible solutions, even if you’re not sure they’ll work, and be transparent — feel free to tell the recruiter you’re not sure how to answer it, but make sure you emphasize that you’re open to learning.

Can I ask for help or guidance from the interviewer during a problem-solving question?

Avoid asking for help directly, but ask for clarification in case something is unclear or if you need additional information. Sometimes, the interviewer will take the initiative and provide you with hints to encourage you and see how you think.

How can I demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness when answering problem-solving questions?

It’s all about storytelling! Preparing in advance will provide some space for displaying your creativity. You can do it by making fun analogies or drawing parallels from well-known situations; or making pop-culture references.

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Maja Stojanovic

Briana Dilworth

Fact Checked By:

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26 Expert-Backed Problem Solving Examples – Interview Answers

Published: February 13, 2023

Interview Questions and Answers

Actionable advice from real experts:

picture of Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Former Recruiter

sample questionnaire for problem solving


Dr. Kyle Elliott

Career Coach

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Hayley Jukes


Biron Clark

Biron Clark , Former Recruiter

Kyle Elliott , Career Coach

Image of Hayley Jukes

Hayley Jukes , Editor

As a recruiter , I know employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure.

 A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers are more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical.

But how do they measure this?

Hiring managers will ask you interview questions about your problem-solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem-solving on your resume and cover letter. 

In this article, I’m going to share a list of problem-solving examples and sample interview answers to questions like, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?” and “Describe a time when you had to solve a problem without managerial input. How did you handle it, and what was the result?”

  • Problem-solving involves identifying, prioritizing, analyzing, and solving problems using a variety of skills like critical thinking, creativity, decision making, and communication.
  • Describe the Situation, Task, Action, and Result ( STAR method ) when discussing your problem-solving experiences.
  • Tailor your interview answer with the specific skills and qualifications outlined in the job description.
  • Provide numerical data or metrics to demonstrate the tangible impact of your problem-solving efforts.

What are Problem Solving Skills? 

Problem-solving is the ability to identify a problem, prioritize based on gravity and urgency, analyze the root cause, gather relevant information, develop and evaluate viable solutions, decide on the most effective and logical solution, and plan and execute implementation. 

Problem-solving encompasses other skills that can be showcased in an interview response and your resume. Problem-solving skills examples include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Decision making
  • Research skills
  • Technical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility

Why is Problem Solving Important in the Workplace?

Problem-solving is essential in the workplace because it directly impacts productivity and efficiency. Whenever you encounter a problem, tackling it head-on prevents minor issues from escalating into bigger ones that could disrupt the entire workflow. 

Beyond maintaining smooth operations, your ability to solve problems fosters innovation. It encourages you to think creatively, finding better ways to achieve goals, which keeps the business competitive and pushes the boundaries of what you can achieve. 

Effective problem-solving also contributes to a healthier work environment; it reduces stress by providing clear strategies for overcoming obstacles and builds confidence within teams. 

Examples of Problem-Solving in the Workplace

  • Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
  • Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
  • Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
  • Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
  • Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
  • Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
  • Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
  • Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
  • Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
  • Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
  • Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
  • Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
  • Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
  • Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
  • Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
  • Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
  • Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
  • Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area

Problem-Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry-Level Job Seekers

  • Coordinating work between team members in a class project
  • Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
  • Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
  • Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
  • Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
  • Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
  • Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
  • Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first

How To Answer “Tell Us About a Problem You Solved”

When you answer interview questions about problem-solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem-solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mentions problem-solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method.

STAR stands for:

It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. 

Start by briefly describing the general situation and the task at hand. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact. Finally, describe the positive result you achieved.

Note: Our sample answers below are structured following the STAR formula. Be sure to check them out!


sample questionnaire for problem solving

Dr. Kyle Elliott , MPA, CHES Tech & Interview Career Coach

How can I communicate complex problem-solving experiences clearly and succinctly?

Before answering any interview question, it’s important to understand why the interviewer is asking the question in the first place.

When it comes to questions about your complex problem-solving experiences, for example, the interviewer likely wants to know about your leadership acumen, collaboration abilities, and communication skills, not the problem itself.

Therefore, your answer should be focused on highlighting how you excelled in each of these areas, not diving into the weeds of the problem itself, which is a common mistake less-experienced interviewees often make.

Tailoring Your Answer Based on the Skills Mentioned in the Job Description

As a recruiter, one of the top tips I can give you when responding to the prompt “Tell us about a problem you solved,” is to tailor your answer to the specific skills and qualifications outlined in the job description. 

Once you’ve pinpointed the skills and key competencies the employer is seeking, craft your response to highlight experiences where you successfully utilized or developed those particular abilities. 

For instance, if the job requires strong leadership skills, focus on a problem-solving scenario where you took charge and effectively guided a team toward resolution. 

By aligning your answer with the desired skills outlined in the job description, you demonstrate your suitability for the role and show the employer that you understand their needs.

Amanda Augustine expands on this by saying:

“Showcase the specific skills you used to solve the problem. Did it require critical thinking, analytical abilities, or strong collaboration? Highlight the relevant skills the employer is seeking.”  

Interview Answers to “Tell Me About a Time You Solved a Problem”

Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” or “Tell me about a time you solved a problem,” since you’re likely to hear different versions of this interview question in all sorts of industries.

The example interview responses are structured using the STAR method and are categorized into the top 5 key problem-solving skills recruiters look for in a candidate.

1. Analytical Thinking

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Situation: In my previous role as a data analyst , our team encountered a significant drop in website traffic.

Task: I was tasked with identifying the root cause of the decrease.

Action: I conducted a thorough analysis of website metrics, including traffic sources, user demographics, and page performance. Through my analysis, I discovered a technical issue with our website’s loading speed, causing users to bounce. 

Result: By optimizing server response time, compressing images, and minimizing redirects, we saw a 20% increase in traffic within two weeks.

2. Critical Thinking

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Situation: During a project deadline crunch, our team encountered a major technical issue that threatened to derail our progress.

Task: My task was to assess the situation and devise a solution quickly.

Action: I immediately convened a meeting with the team to brainstorm potential solutions. Instead of panicking, I encouraged everyone to think outside the box and consider unconventional approaches. We analyzed the problem from different angles and weighed the pros and cons of each solution.

Result: By devising a workaround solution, we were able to meet the project deadline, avoiding potential delays that could have cost the company $100,000 in penalties for missing contractual obligations.

3. Decision Making

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Situation: As a project manager , I was faced with a dilemma when two key team members had conflicting opinions on the project direction.

Task: My task was to make a decisive choice that would align with the project goals and maintain team cohesion.

Action: I scheduled a meeting with both team members to understand their perspectives in detail. I listened actively, asked probing questions, and encouraged open dialogue. After carefully weighing the pros and cons of each approach, I made a decision that incorporated elements from both viewpoints.

Result: The decision I made not only resolved the immediate conflict but also led to a stronger sense of collaboration within the team. By valuing input from all team members and making a well-informed decision, we were able to achieve our project objectives efficiently.

4. Communication (Teamwork)

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Situation: During a cross-functional project, miscommunication between departments was causing delays and misunderstandings.

Task: My task was to improve communication channels and foster better teamwork among team members.

Action: I initiated regular cross-departmental meetings to ensure that everyone was on the same page regarding project goals and timelines. I also implemented a centralized communication platform where team members could share updates, ask questions, and collaborate more effectively.

Result: Streamlining workflows and improving communication channels led to a 30% reduction in project completion time, saving the company $25,000 in operational costs.

5. Persistence 

Situation: During a challenging sales quarter, I encountered numerous rejections and setbacks while trying to close a major client deal.

Task: My task was to persistently pursue the client and overcome obstacles to secure the deal.

Action: I maintained regular communication with the client, addressing their concerns and demonstrating the value proposition of our product. Despite facing multiple rejections, I remained persistent and resilient, adjusting my approach based on feedback and market dynamics.

Result: After months of perseverance, I successfully closed the deal with the client. By closing the major client deal, I exceeded quarterly sales targets by 25%, resulting in a revenue increase of $250,000 for the company.

Tips to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Throughout your career, being able to showcase and effectively communicate your problem-solving skills gives you more leverage in achieving better jobs and earning more money .

So to improve your problem-solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting.

 When discussing problem-solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems.

Don’t just say you’re good at solving problems. Show it with specifics. How much did you boost efficiency? Did you save the company money? Adding numbers can really make your achievements stand out.

To get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t.

Think about how you can improve researching and analyzing a situation, how you can get better at communicating, and deciding on the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc.

Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.

You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem-solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem-solving ability.

More Interview Resources

  • 3 Answers to “How Do You Handle Stress?”
  • How to Answer “How Do You Handle Conflict?” (Interview Question)
  • Sample Answers to “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”

picture of Biron Clark

About the Author

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions. Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn .

Read more articles by Biron Clark

About the Contributor

Kyle Elliott , career coach and mental health advocate, transforms his side hustle into a notable practice, aiding Silicon Valley professionals in maximizing potential. Follow Kyle on LinkedIn .

Image of Hayley Jukes

About the Editor

Hayley Jukes is the Editor-in-Chief at CareerSidekick with five years of experience creating engaging articles, books, and transcripts for diverse platforms and audiences.

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Problem Solving Mock Interview

To help you prepare for your job interview, here are 25 interview questions that will test your problem solving ability.

Get More Information About Our Problem Solving Interview Questions

Question 1 of 25

Tell me about the most challenging problem you have encountered in your professional career.

How to Answer

Answer example.

Everyone has had their share of challenges in their career. The interviewer knows that you are not perfect; however, they need to know that you can professionally overcome work-related roadblocks. Maybe you had a significant project that almost went sideways. Perhaps you had a conflict in the workplace that you could have handled more professionally. Explain your approach to resolving the issue and be sure to highlight the steps you took to reach that resolution.

"The most challenging problem I have encountered in my professional career was with my most recent employer. I had an incredibly important project that made up the majority of my annual budget. The client was challenging to work with as he was rarely available for comment, due to extensive international travel. I needed this deal to work out so, for the 6-month span of the project, I made my work hours reflect his time zone. This shift allowed us to communicate via Skype on a daily basis which meant a fair share of late night and early morning calls for me! It was a sacrifice, and I would do it again. I understand that sacrifices need to happen to gain successful outcomes."

"The most challenging problem that I encountered in my career was when my former company experienced a major merger. It was a lot to adjust to but, after some time, I was able to get a good pace again."

"The most significant challenge I have faced as a manager would be the labor dispute and lockout that our company went through in 2016. Many of our permanent employees are union based. We could not come to a new collective agreement, and so I ended up having to utilize a lot of temporary staffing options during that time. It was a lot of re-training, and strain on the company culture overall."

"The biggest challenge that I face as a marketer, and it's an ongoing challenge, is to manage my expectations on projects. I lean on the side of perfectionism and often put more pressure on myself than even a client would. The positive side of this; however, is that I always deliver an immaculate product."

"I'd say the most challenging problem I have encountered was when my manager suddenly resigned. I was then in charge of the department. Now, I was mostly ready for the responsibility, as the assistant manager in the department. However, I had never completed inventory reconciliation, and on the first day, this was my first task. I was asked to give projections so that our buyer could stock us for next season. I had no idea what to do, so I researched until I came up with the answer. Also, other managers in other departments helped to guide me. Ultimately the work paid off because our next season projections were perfect. Since then, I've learned more effective ways to do our inventory management and projections, but I don't think I've ever learned anything as quickly as I did that week."

"The most challenging problem I've encountered is the misstep of taking my current role. The initial pitch to me on company growth and my duties is not my reality. This factor has been a challenge to my career growth. I know that even if it was a misstep, there are lessons to be learned, and I approach each day with interest and a positive attitude to try to learn those lessons and grow professionally."

"The most significant challenge I've faced is nearly having my department eliminated due to budgetary cuts. I was lucky to have an active parent community rally behind me and the department which saved the program, in the end. The other challenge that comes to mind was getting back into the swing of teaching after taking a few years off to be home with my children. There was a learning curve on getting up to speed with curriculum and the lesson planning, but my love for teaching made it all that much easier!"

Next Question

25 Problem Solving Interview Questions & Answers

Below is a list of our Problem Solving interview questions. Click on any interview question to view our answer advice and answer examples. You may view 5 answer examples before our paywall loads. Afterwards, you'll be asked to upgrade to view the rest of our answers.

1. Tell me about the most challenging problem you have encountered in your professional career.

2. in your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver.

Employers want to know that you have a methodical approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions. Strong problem solvers are: - Systematic thinkers - Open minded - Okay with being wrong sometimes - Always researching and exploring - Able to identify the core problem - Able to reverse engineer a challenge to avoid future issues - Able to come up with multiple avenues that work well for all stakeholders - Are do-ers and not worriers

"I am a great problem solver because I can compartmentalize all aspects of a problem before studying it. I also like to bring more experienced team members in to add to the solution. I will never try to be a hero and solve a complicated problem without tapping into the resources around me."

"What makes me a great problem solver is that I have a keen ability to research, read, and explore so that my recommendations are based on fact and study rather than guesses."

"I have been told that I am an excellent problem solver and I believe this is because I have a bit of an engineering mind. I can take the issue, work backward to solve it, and then use that resolution as a basis for avoiding future issues to come up. I am also a big-picture thinker which allows me to come up with various resolutions per problem."

"I am a great problem solver because I do not allow stress to cloud my judgment and mute my creativity. I am a keen observer with a great memory which allows me to recall unique solutions or ideas."

"I am a great problem solver because I draw from the experience of others, whether solicited advice or through my prior observations and then I improve upon that, where possible. My memory and years in the industry have exposed me to many types of situations and problems, so I feel I have a vast amount of experience to draw from, allowing me to be creative and effective in the way I approach any challenge. Not to mention, I'm not afraid to ask for help or advice along the way. I know that I don't know everything, so I like to ask for input when I feel I am not fully equipped to do the job alone. There is no shame in that."

"I believe I am a great problem solver because I am sure to gather as many facts as possible, I look at the problem and its potential solutions from multiple angles, and I am not afraid to make a creative decision, that might seem off the beaten path."

"I consider myself a great problem solver and believe my skills are in my emotional intelligence. I can be really in tune with the tone of the group, who is feeling what, and how they are each best reached. This skill applies to both adults and children, so it is beneficial both inside of the classroom and out! By being aware of what is at the heart of the matter and how each person needs his or her needs met, I'm able to accomplish a lot while avoiding many common landmines."

Anonymous Interview Answers with Professional Feedback

Anonymous Answer

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Cindy's Feedback

3. Tell me about a time when you discovered a problem and went beyond regular expectations to fix it.

Your innovative approach may be exciting and unconventional, but can you implement it realistically? Ideas are one thing, but putting them into practice and providing measurable results is where you can add genuine value. Think of a time you worked long hours and made sacrifices to overcome a challenging problem. Demonstrate your impact and the significance of your solution.

"During our busy tax season I noticed that one of our primary spreadsheets was not formulated properly. I am not an expert with Excel; however, with everyone being in peak stress mode - I decided it was something I could learn on my own. I watched a few online tutorials and ended up resolving the issue without the need to involve the rest of the team."

"When I worked as an admin assistant at my last job, I was in charge of purchasing office and kitchen supplies. I noticed we had been spending quite a bit of money on paper and plastic-ware. I compared the cost of disposables to the cost of buying permanent dishes and utensils for the kitchen. It turned out we were able to save the company hundreds of dollars each year by simply investing in dishes and silverware!"

"I had a staff member who was stealing supplies. Rumors were going around that she was dishonest; however, there was no evidence. I carefully waited and, after two days, the rumored infractions were caught on camera. At that point, I was able to terminate her employment. I went beyond regular expectations by gaining evidence before terminating her. I knew this would prevent a human resources issue down the road, and it also saved my company from having to pay this employee any severance pay."

"Our agency performed a major client launch last month that tested well. Upon implementing, I noticed that their new website was not functioning correctly. I wanted our client to be happy with our services, so I worked late into the night with our IT team to troubleshoot the site and ensure that by morning, there were no more kinks to work out. In the end, our client was thrilled with my dedication, and they ended up writing an amazing review online and even mentioned me in the review!"

"I managed a coat department previously and, depending on the season; these coats were very high ticket items. I had two salespeople who were consistently battling for the sale. It was unbecoming, to say the least, and impacted the department's morale. To incentivize everyone to go for the sale, I made a sales contest on non-coat merchandise. The more items they upsold, despite being a smaller sale, the more tickets they received towards various other compensation incentives like gift cards or extra time for breaks. The other sales reps felt reinvigorated, and it pushed my two coat-fighters to step outside of their perceived territory."

"In my first role, there was a regular lane of shipments that was difficult to cover. The issue didn't cause us to fall short as far as the customer was concerned. However, we were in danger of potentially having the customer poached due to waiting times. After several late nights attempting to come through for a key customer, I got tired of running in a hamster wheel. I decided to find some carriers that could assist. Long story short, after staying late many days and making some creative calls to find a backhaul, I was able to secure a new carrier, at a great rate, and keep the customer happy."

"When I was reworking lesson plans, I noticed that there was a gap between the programs and some policy. So, rather than hand them back to the team to fix, I took it upon myself to write the remaining lessons and tweak the existing ones to make them cohesive. It took about seven days of working on my own time, but it was worth it when I saw the lessons in action during the school year."

4. Tell me about a time where you had to analyze a set of data and then make a recommendation.

Talk about your attention to detail and sharp focus when it comes to data and statistics. You may not consider yourself a highly analytical person. However, this is a skill that you have indeed exercised in the past.

"I worked for a financial firm last year and had a client who was looking for investment recommendations. I gathered data on the stocks they were interested in, sorting through 12-month trends and further historical data to determine the most promising returns. The client was happy with my findings, and my manager was quite impressed with the research that I conducted."

"My boss recently asked me to make a case for Oracle on Demand versus SAP Business ByDesign. Our business was growing so fast, and we needed a new CRM fast. I called both companies who took me through a webinar and a couple of online tutorials. I then gathered the data and made an informative PowerPoint presentation. My boss was very impressed with how thorough I was, and I was happy to learn something new!"

"Each time I onboard a new client, I analyze a set of data before I make any recommendations on their strategy. This data includes their current analytics, primary sales sources, key customers, and more. I have a formula that I follow for the most part to help me assess and then give the best strategic recommendations that I can."

"My current employer wanted to know the exact impact our social media campaigns were making. I gathered our Facebook analytics for him and created a short PowerPoint presentation from the data. My recommendation was to increase our keywords in the geographical areas where our ads received the highest click-through rates. My research and recommendations certainly helped as our Facebook reach grew exponentially."

"As department manager, I'm responsible for forecasting what our sales will be for the upcoming season so that our buyer can accurately purchase the proper inventory. I have to look at our current inventory, last year's trends, YOY growth, and what the industry is doing as a whole, especially with the impact of online retailers. I then make a recommendation and forecast that will either set us up for success or not. If I under or over forecast, we end up with not enough inventory or too much to sell through and the cost is either opportunity in missed sales, or having to discount unnecessary items. To date, I've been nearly exact in my predictions."

"When doing annual reviews with my clients, I would analyze the past year's shipments, trends, and overall data. I would then make recommendations for improved efficiencies, rates, and better service contracts in the upcoming year. I would make not only carrier recommendations based on service level and pricing, but also made suggestions on new routes or ways in which we could be creative, like consolidating the shipments in our warehouses, to save cost when possible. I managed two of the most significant accounts in the office, so my recommendations were fundamental to our bottom line, and I'm happy to report that they were consistently adopted, resulting in more business."

"I am responsible for analyzing the results of our unit tests given across the department quarterly. I had not only to compile the results and make recommendations as to what units to keep and what to remove for the following year but also diagnose what ineffective and how we could remedy that. This task is a critical one as it shapes the future of the department and our efficacy as teachers."

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Stephanie's Feedback

5. When a problem requires a quick solution, how do you respond?

When it comes to complex problem solving, decisions are not always readily reached. It takes practice, experience, and confidence to learn what sorts of decisions yield the best results. Walk the interviewer through your process when it comes to making quick decisions. Do you rely on past experiences? Perhaps you go with a gut feeling. Maybe you have read case studies that you lean on in these instances. Problems that require you to act quickly can be emergency situations such as knowing where the fire extinguisher is and grabbing it fast enough to put out a small grease fire in the company kitchen. Other quick decisions could be if you are asked to take on a new responsibility and are only given five minutes to decide if it's something you are prepared to take on. Going with your gut is a skill, and the more you learn to trust your intuition, the easier it becomes to make these types of decisions. Demonstrate that you are confident and able to react swiftly when the need arises.

"Our Controller recently came down with pneumonia on a week where we had a major client presentation to give. He sent me what he had prepared, and I had to fill in the blanks. As an Analyst it was a bit out of my wheelhouse, being in a client facing role, but I adapted quickly, and reminded myself that my team needed me."

"When an urgent problem arises at work, I always try to respond in a calm and assuring manner. I am a natural leader which means that my team often looks to me for answers. One instance of my fast-thinking was just last week when we had an administrative employee no-show on a significant day for us. I called a temp agency, and they had the position filled in just one hour."

"In logistics, there are often split-second decisions that can either get the freight to a customer on time or cause a shut-down of a production line. Sometimes, these decisions have to be made after hours. On more than one occasion, I've received a phone call from our central dispatch asking me how to handle a late driver. I have to remember the details of the particular shipper or receiver, my customer, and the actual load in question but also get creative with how they can make sure to meet customer expectations. Due to the urgent nature of the business, as well as the drivers, it has to be a very quick decision to be successfully resolved. Luckily, due to following my gut, I've been able to make very fast, split-second decisions in the best interest of the branch and customer."

"As a Marketing Director, I need to make a multitude of decisions, on the fly, for varying projects. I rely partially on the instinct that I have built as an expert in the marketing industry and part in past experiences that may be similar. I am sure always to exude an air of control when making decisions."

"I thrive under pressure and always have, so when I'm given a time-sensitive situation to address, I light up and get down to business. I am more impactful and even more creative when I have little time to do much besides jump in and take charge. This ability to make fast decisions is especially helpful in my role as manager when there is an inventory, personnel, or customer issue."

"Just like with negotiations, I react swiftly in emergency situations. Perhaps my skills come from my years as a parent, having to think fast and put out fires! If a quick solution is required, I will do a fast overview of the facts and make a decision based on risk factors considering the potential financial loss."

"I am certainly a take charge and tackle a project kind of gal - as a teacher and a mom, too! I feel I have a powerful and accurate intuitive sense and I follow it instinctively. It's very rarely steered me wrong."

6. When it comes to problem solving, are you a strong collaborator?

Show off your teamwork skills by giving an example of when you successfully collaborated with your coworkers. Be sure to demonstrate how you communicated your thoughts or opinions. Highlight how your contributions, or ability to ask for help, made a difference. Explain how you are a team player who enjoys working alongside others.

"Last month, I recruited a couple of coworkers to help me solve a problem for a client. We were looking at their financials, but something didn't add up, and I didn't have the analysis background that these two co-workers had. Together we molded our areas of expertise and created a bulletproof financial plan for our client. I enjoyed the collaboration and would do it again in a heartbeat."

"I am most certainly a strong collaborator! Being an executive assistant, I am often in need of strong collaboration to complete a project for the VP who I support. I love learning new things from my coworkers and those who I report to."

"I love having impromptu brainstorm sessions with my team. It keeps everyone on their toes! When an issue comes to light, I will approach the problem with the entire team and open the floor, at the end of the meeting, for suggestions."

"In marketing, it is imperative to collaborate and gain different sides of the story, and new opinions. I try to seek out my team's opinions on projects all the time. I find everyone has something to contribute and can help me see a problem or strategy in a way that I may not have ever considered."

"I would consider myself an active collaborator and believe that two heads are almost always better than one. Three is the best, in my opinion. This way the team is odd-numbered, so if there's a dispute you can take a vote on it! Multiple viewpoints are almost always a great idea."

"I am a strong collaborator. I am always willing to listen to others' opinions, hear their perspective, and work together to build a solution that will fit for everyone. I am always looking to draw from others' experience and expertise to bring about the best solution for the client and the branch as a whole. When drafting a pitch for a client, I am always sure to bring on a manager or carrier sales rep so that I will have multiple perspectives to help bring us to the best collaborative solution."

"I believe I'm a skilled collaborator and am confident that my coworkers would agree. I come to our bi-weekly department meetings full of ideas and with an open spirit, ready to collaborate with the rest of the team. We always have engaging discussions that result in great takeaways for the teachers as well as our students."

7. When you cannot seem to find the right solution to a problem, how do you deal?

Sometimes, problems just seem too impossible to solve, at first glance. Your creative problem-solving skills may be at a stand-still from time to time, and the interviewer wants to know how you deal with that. Taking a brief break and stepping away from the problem can help you to see things from a different perspective. When you are in a rut, you can waste time plugging away at something, resulting in a decline in productivity. Discuss with the interviewer how you handle being in a rut like this.

"If I am stuck on a particular problem, I will take a break from trying to figure out what's wrong and ask a coworker for advice. Getting another person's perspective when you start to feel like you're hitting a wall can help one to see a problem with a fresh set of eyes. As humans, sometimes we overthink! The biggest hurdle can be asking for help, and I am not above asking for help when I'm stuck."

"If time allows - I will sleep on it! When faced with tough decisions where an answer does not come to me easily, I will take a moment to feel the issue out. When necessary I will also bring in the opinion of the administrators in a different department."

"If I cannot come to a solution that feels right I will check in with other leaders whom I work with and, depending on the situation, my business mentor. It's important to check in with those that I admire as they have unique ideas and some have more industry tenure as well."

"As a marketer, I am hired to find the solution for others. As you can imagine, when that solution seems elusive, it is incredibly challenging for me to accept. For this reason, I love brainstorm sessions with my team. I will also look to the outside in the form of resources online such as blogs and forums by other marketing professionals."

"It can be frustrating when a solution does not come fluidly. However, sometimes trying a solution and seeing it fail, will lead you to a lightbulb moment. I am an active person, so I like to walk and talk things out. Usually, as I do that, I don't filter my ideas. This way, something slips out that I would have edited out as "ridiculous" if I were writing down a list. I have found that this free-flowing problem-solving session often leads to the most creative and impactful solutions which I would have nixed from the get-go had another not failed."

"If I'm stuck on a problem, I try to take some time away from the issue, ideally by taking a step away from the screen and get my blood flowing. Walking away seems to help me get reinvigorated and more creative. I also find it valuable to talk it out with someone, even if that person is not a stakeholder in the situation."

"If I am stuck in a rut or can't seem to figure out the best approach, I am fortunate enough that I have so many other tasks and classes that I can focus on. Usually, if I clear my mind and fill it with something else, a great idea hits me when I least expect it. If I am stuck on a problem and cannot take the time to step away, I usually rely on my students to help me shake it off!"

8. When faced with a problem, how do you decide on the best solution?

There may be more than one solution to a problem, and the interviewer would like to know how you make a final choice when you're in a situation like that. Effectively comparing and contrasting, or weighing the pros and cons, is essential when choosing the best way to solve a problem. The interviewer wants to see that you are capable when it comes to calculating risk vs. reward. Think about a time when you have compared the risk and reward to a potential solution.

"If I have a problem with multiple solutions, I always go back to the classic pros vs. cons method. I fully understand that although no solution is perfect, and some solutions offer lesser sacrifice while others pose potential loss. I have been trained to take the solution that is 'closest to the money' which means that if I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, I will choose the solution that is most beneficial to the company's bottom line."

"When it comes to problem-solving, I will always weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. I will also bounce my thoughts off of some co-workers if I still feel conflicted after that."

"My decisions are always based on three factors. One, what is best for the company. Two, what is best for our clients. Three, what will boost employee morale. Now, not all decisions will be popular with all three groups, and I do keep that in mind. In those instances, it is my job to watch our bottom line but ensure customer satisfaction at all times."

"Rock, paper, scissors! Kidding - of course! Our team will collaborate on tough decisions, and we often vote. Majority wins in our office for many creative decisions."

"When I face a problem, I am sure to draw on previous experiences both as a customer and an employee in retail. I then use these experiences to make the most informed decision that I can about the problem at hand. Generally speaking, if I've already seen or experienced a very comparable situation, I can be impactful and exact in my approach by drawing from those experiences."

"As I consider a problem and its solutions, I make a note of what my gut tells me what to do. Then I take a step back and reflect on times that I have faced the situation before. I recall the actions that I took, the outcome, and then pivot as necessary. I trust my instinct because I am heavily knowledgeable in this industry, but I believe in relying on fact as well."

"I am typically a follow-my-gut type of person, so I follow my instinct when possible. I make a note of what my initial inclination was and then I make sure to compare and contrast solutions. Once I have identified the best solution, I check in to see if it feels right. More often than not, my initial instinct is correct. Of course, I am sure to be analytical as I weigh out each decision."

9. How do you prioritize multiple projects when they all seem equally important?

Prioritizing is a skill that requires practice. There are many approaches you can take. Here are some suggestions: 1) Make a list. By thinking through and writing down each item that needs completion, you can see it on paper. 2) Mark what is urgent or essential. Take into account deadlines and meetings. 3) Order each task based on effort and estimated value. 4) Consider due dates and how long it will take to do each item. When answering this question, show the interviewer that you have a system in place that helps you to think through what needs to happen, and when. The better you can prioritize, the more productive you will be, making you an asset to their company!

"I aim to be as effective and efficient as possible and make sure I can use all minutes of a day for a project. I have a few things going at once most of the time. I am the lead on some, the delegator on others, and the reviewer on another, for instance. This way, by splitting up the work to the appropriate parties, both my team and I can be the most efficient with our time."

"I often have multiple projects due at a time, since I am the assistant to three different executives. I ask my executives to rank their need from 1-5 in the level of urgency, including its due date. I start my work on that list. If there is more than one urgent need, I will work overtime, or through my lunch, to ensure that I deliver everything on time."

"I had to utilize creative problem solving last month when we found ourselves short-staffed and unable to hire new employees due to budget cuts. I changed our schedule to include some split shifts and received approval for a small amount of overtime spending. The problem is solved, at least temporarily, until our company comes out of our spending freeze."

"In my current department, we are very systematic in our customer delivery promises; however, that is not to say that doubling up on client deliveries does not happen. When situations occur where I have to prioritize, I will do so by the size of the client and budget. It may seem unfair at times; however, our largest clients with the most significant spend always rule out."

"I prioritize based on urgency and time required for the project. I have a list of what needs to be done, by when, and how long I estimate that it will take to accomplish. I am great under pressure, but try to make sure that I don't get myself or my team into a sticky situation by not allotting enough time for any particular project."

"I love to keep running lists of everything that I need to do, big or small. Mostly because I love crossing things off of the to-do list, but also because it helps me keep track of everything. Lately, I've started utilizing a free project management software that I use to make those lists, categorize the tasks, and mark them by the level of urgency. I take care of the most time-sensitive issues first and then move along to the equally important, but perhaps less time-sensitive to-dos. I also estimate how long each task will take, so if I have a few minutes in between projects, I can tackle the quick to dos and use that time effectively, rather than use it to figure out 'what's next.'"

"I follow the tried and true practice of making lists and assigning each item a priority and tackling the list that way. I love to check things off my list, as it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Also, I am a believer in following my intuition. If I feel that something lower on the to-do list needs to be bumped up in priority, I will tackle that right away. As a teacher, there are always a lot of simultaneous to do items, so in addition to prioritizing, I have to be good at multitasking; something I find I do quite well as both a teacher and a mom."

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Marcie's Feedback

10. Tell me about a recurring problem that you run into in your current position, and how you handle it.

The interviewer wants to see that, despite this recurring problem, you take action to find a resolution. They want to make sure they aren't hiring a chronic complainer who is easily defeated! Be careful to avoid complaining about your current (or most recent) position. A recurring problem could be a glitchy software system, an employee who is regularly late, or even an unpredictable work schedule. Remain optimistic in your reply!

"A recurring problem that I have in my current position is the fact that our client management software is not user-friendly. Any entry that I need to make is incredibly time-consuming which poses a real problem when a deadline is present, or when we have clients waiting for an answer. I have found that the best workaround for this is not to allow my paperwork to build up. The more proactive I am, the better I can keep ahead of schedule."

"A problem that I am currently running into is a lack of office supplies. My boss has been running very lean, financially speaking, since our industry took a downturn. I have to time my ordering with client invoices at this point. This situation has certainly helped me to become more aware of spending and budgets, that's for sure!"

"The greatest issue in my current position is that we have so much employee turnover. It started to feel like I was constantly training new staff. I came up with an employee referral bonus program which greatly helped. For every successful referral, our employees get $400 plus another $400 after their referral stays for three months. I believe this has been successful because the quality of our employees has greatly increased."

"In my current office, we have more clients than we can handle - which is a great thing! However, it's been tough to find the best marketers to join our team because we are a small organization. This hiring situation has meant a lot of overtime hours, which I am certainly happy to do for the most part. I do look forward to working with a bigger team, like yours."

"Unfortunately, a recurring issue in my current company is employee tenure. It's just really part of the industry as we need some holiday and seasonal associates and they typically don't want to stay on, or we don't have the budget to keep them on. This turnover means we are continually becoming a new team and learning how to work with our new coworkers. Scheduling often has a learning curve with a new team, too, because you have to take into account the availability of all parties, and who works well together. That said, it's something I'm used to. I make it a bit of a personal challenge or game for myself. How quickly I can learn their available days, how fast I can learn who works best together."

"A recurring issue at my current job is lack of reliable inventory that my clients are requesting, which can be incredibly frustrating. I am working hard to land a client, get them to buy into our program, both literally and figuratively, and then we fall short of expectations when our inventory doesn't meet their standards. That said, I continue to go out, land new clients, and try to source the proper inventory for them."

"A recurring issue revolves around my lack of a classroom and the friction that can arise at times because of it. Without the flexibility of my own classroom, I sometimes find myself in an awkward situation since I have to abide by the other teacher's rules, which sometimes conflict with mine. I do my best to follow the teachers' class rules, and make sure that we have a good understanding."

11. Tell me about a time when you failed to solve a problem. How did you overcome the failure?

'Success is bouncing from failure to failure without losing momentum,' or so they say. Your resilience shines through when you can learn from your mistakes and keep going. Give an example that shows you can accept fault and learn from challenging experiences.

"I failed to meet an important deadline in my first job out of college because I didn't know how to prioritize properly. I kept letting other menial tasks get in the way rather than focusing on finishing the project. I learned how to manage my time wisely by setting reasonable goals and reminders on my calendar. This technique helped me to manage my time more effectively."

"Last month we were having issues with our GoToMeeting application, and it was right before a major client meeting. I was on a call with the service provider, trying to troubleshoot and unfortunately, did not deliver a fix on time. After the initial frustration, I decided to talk to my boss about having backups in place. Now, we have Skype, and Google Hangouts set up for these emergency situations."

"I was asked to solve our issue of employee turnover which ended up being much more difficult than I originally thought. My initial goal was to improve turnover by 70% but in the end, only reached 40% improvement. Although I did not reach my goal, I am still happy that my action plan made a difference."

"I had a customer who was not happy with my delivery, and I chose to take care of the situation without involving my boss. It wasn't that I was trying to sweep the situation under the rug, I just honestly thought I had been successfully dealing with the situation on my own. Unfortunately, I was wrong because the client sent a nasty email to my boss a short time after. I should have gone to my boss right away and filled him in. It's something that I've learned from, and I'm ready to involve my boss with every sticky client situation."

"In a previous role as a personal shopping assistant, I was tasked with taking on a notoriously difficult client. She spent a lot of money in the store in the past but was very demanding. This challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to prove myself. A few months in, I made the misstep of mentioning something she'd complained about at an earlier date. Apparently, she was offended that I brought it up, even though I meant it very innocently. I owned up to it immediately to my manager and came up with a plan to win her back. I wrote a snail-mail card apologizing to her and let several weeks pass before reaching out in any other way. By the time I did, two months later, she was perfectly lovely, dismissed my apology as though she didn't know what I was talking about, and we moved along in a better fashion than we had prior."

"In my first role out of college, I was working to solve a lane issue with a carrier that kept falling through. I went through every solution I could come up with including pitching consistency, to leveraging my current relationships, and asking for favors. Those favors and workarounds ran out, and we fell short of client expectations. While I did all that I knew how at the time, I still fell short, and it was disappointing. In retrospect, I would have involved more people in supervisory positions earlier on in the process to learn from their shared experiences."

"The problem I've failed to solve that still keeps me up at night is a successful inclusion of one of my students with an IEP. He loves Spanish and in a one-on-one setting excels at it, but cannot handle the behavior expectations in class because he gets too excited. I've tried multiple approaches to get him to regulate, and participate, but so far nothing has allowed him to participate in the class without disrupting the other students and causing a meltdown for himself. This fact weighs on me since I want him to experience inclusion at all times. As a result, he comes to my office a few days each week, and we have our Spanish class together. I feel this exemplifies who I am as a teacher. I will go the extra mile for my students to make sure they get their fair shake at life."

12. What sources do you look to when you need to solve a complicated problem?

The interviewer wants to know that you can think outside the box, or even ask for help when you are stuck on a complicated problem. Maybe you look to a mentor or boss for advice. Perhaps you have handbooks, manuals and systems you turn to for help. Offer some relevant examples based on your industry. If you work in the medical field, you may turn to textbooks, online research, colleagues or even patient's history to find the right solution. If you work in customer service, you may ask the customer what they need to find the best way to solve the problem. Show the interviewer that you are knowledgeable and equipped to handle these types of scenarios.

"When I am faced with a complicated problem, I will look to the resources that my current company has provided me. The answer is almost always in there. If it's more of a moral dilemma vs. a knowledge-based dilemma, I will ask my supervisor for his thoughts and opinion since I value him as a mentor and expert in our industry."

"I have a variety of manuals and online tutorials that I lean to when I need to solve a complicated problem. Usually, the issues are surrounding Excel troubleshooting, so it is easy to find answers without involving anyone else and interrupting their day."

"I have a business mentor that I turn to for significant problems. She and I are in the same industry; however, she is much more tenured than I am. I recommend that everyone have a mentor. Even though I run a team of my own now, there are times when I do not have the answers."

"When I need to solve a complicated problem I will turn to marketing forums and blogs that I follow. There is a plethora of information on the internet, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of them!"

"To solve a complex issue, I will reach out to a manager or mentor from a previous role to ask them how they've handled such issues in the past. I am always ready to dive back into our handbook, but these types of scenarios are often not covered there, which is why I value a human, experiential approach. I know that there are so many folks in the industry who have so much to teach me and have probably already "been-there-done-that," so I love to utilize them as a resource."

"If there's a complicated problem, I'll write out what I think the possible solutions would be. Then, I will weigh those potential solutions against one another and list the complications that may arise as a result of each choice. Also, I am always open to input or suggestions from those with more experience than I. I will often turn to my organizations' training resources, as well as talk the problem out with coworkers or my boss."

"I have a vast cohort of teachers with whom I work currently, or have worked in the past, so if I am stuck on a problem or feel I need some additional help, I reach out to these educators. If nothing else, they're there to lend an ear and let me bounce my ideas off of them. They almost always have some real-life experience in a very similar situation. I value this collaborative, supportive group that I've amassed over the years."

13. After you implement a solution to a problem, how do you test the effectiveness of that solution?

The interviewer wants to see that you have strong follow-through skills and the ability to use data and analytics to support your decisions. The only way to test the effectiveness of a new solution is to keep a close eye on the immediate, and often longer-term, results! Depending on the situation, you can use data, run reports, and compare/contrast your findings. If you have records of the data before your problem-solving solution, you can track the results of your new solution and analyze in a month, or beyond. It can take time to see the results, so having a method for measuring them is essential. Give an example of a time you implemented a solution and found a way to measure the results to check its efficacy.

"Last year, our company was having a very high rate of turnover due to employee burnout during overtime hours worked. I implemented a third shift which alleviated the need for excessive overtime. Yes, it did increase our payroll costs by 33%; however, it decreased our turnover which was costing us more and more every year. From the analytics I have been watching, the change will pay for itself by the end of year two."

"One solution that I recently implemented was the use of Google calendar with the executive that I support. She was rarely updating her Outlook calendar because she found it to be too difficult to do on her smartphone. Since this implementation, we have minimized our crossed wires significantly! I have measured the effectiveness of this new calendar strategy by marking down any appointments that need to be rescheduled. So far, for the month, the number of reschedules is down by 80%."

"I always look at the data to gauge the efficacy of policy or new solution. I am big on numbers as they do tell the full, and true, story. I love the reliability of spreadsheets and numbers!"

"Once our team comes up with a new marketing strategy for a client we will conduct two focus groups. One test group will be on the original marketing plan and the second, on the plan that we want to pitch. The use of focus groups is the best way for us to measure if our new strategy will be effective enough to justify the changes for the client."

"I like to collect data, as well as anecdotal assessments of new policies. It's great to have data to confirm if it was or was not effective, but I am a firm believer, too, in getting the team on board. Plus, as you implement a solution, sometimes those doing the actual day-to-day work with customers or in the actual implementation have a more accurate understanding of what's going on or what could be improved. Therefore, I am sure to ask the staff how they think it's going, if it's impactful, or what they still see as an area for growth."

"To test the effectiveness of any solution, you have to be objective and see if it genuinely addressed the problem it set out to solve. Everything in our business runs on KPIs, so when we introduce any initiative, we can see how it is or is not impacting those measurements. One example of this was when I assigned specific accounts to my team of buyers, instead of just attaching as they came up. The idea was to get a buyer to become an expert on that account, their buying habits, and therefore be more effective in the long term at sourcing for their needs. At first, it didn't seem all that impactful, as the close rate was still around 42% overall. However, over the course of 10 weeks, we saw an uptick in close ratios on the assigned, dedicated accounts versus the randomly distributed ones, resulting in 53% close ratio. It's something that became so effective that other sales pods adopted it as their practice as well."

"For me, numbers play an important part in teaching but do not paint the full picture. So, after implementing a change, it is certainly important for me to collect data from our unit tests to gauge the efficacy of the lessons we're teaching and the lesson plans we are using. However, I also am sure to check-in with the students on a more regular basis to check for comprehension. Testing is only truly reflective of the way some students learn, whereas others are terrible test takers, even though they've learned the material. That is why I like to take a two-pronged approach."

14. When a major problem arises, what is your first reaction?

The interviewer wants to know if your reactions to problems reflect maturity and professionalism. How you react will significantly determine how you fit with their existing team. Perhaps your computer crashes, and you realize you may have just lost all of your hard work. Or maybe you are limited on time and have a deadline rapidly approaching. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you take a very methodical approach to problem-solving, rather than reacting impulsively when a problem occurs.

"When a major problem arises, my first instinct is to take a step back and absorb what just happened. I then go into 'brainstorm' mode, jotting down potential ways to resolve the issue. From there, I can use a pros and cons list to determine the best course of action for a fast and amicable resolution."

"I have taught myself to become much calmer with my first reactions when problems arise. Now, I will step back and review my options for solving the problem rather than allow myself to become frustrated. If I feel that I cannot solve the issue on my own, I will ask for help from my superiors."

"Depending on the situation, I will gather my resources and team and collaborate on making the necessary happen on a shortened timeline so that we can deliver our results in the most efficient manner possible. Usually, we learn something about ourselves, the team, or a more effective approach to the next problem in the process."

"When a major problem arises, my first instinct is to jump in and fix the issue. I am a do-er and also think in a reverse-engineering manner. I start with the desired result, and work my way backward from there, figuring out where the snag occurred."

"I am resistant to stress but cannot completely avoid it. When a major issue arises, I will take a quick walk, if possible, so I can best assess how to address the issue while clearing my head. Then, I get to work. I delegate whenever possible so that I can oversee the effectiveness, but am not at all afraid to jump in and do the dirty work myself."

"In the event of a significant problem or setback, my first reaction is to freeze in disbelief for a moment or two while I gather myself, then I jump into action. I know that I need to work harder and faster to recover the time and effort lost. My salesperson mind goes into overdrive until the issue comes to a resolution."

"My first inclination in the event of a major problem is to roll up my sleeves and jump in to fix it or help mitigate some of the potential blow out. This initial reaction is especially true when the problem involves a student's feelings or wellbeing."

15. What steps do you take when you have to make an immediate decision without all the relevant information?

Sometimes we have to make decisions without all of the pertinent information at our fingertips. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of taking educated guesses and that you are confident enough in your abilities that you can make a firm decision without all pieces of the problem being present.

"When I need to decide without all of the information, I weigh the pros and cons and come up with a solution that makes the most sense. Common sense can take you a long way! Next, I may ask the opinion of someone I trust to see what they think. Even though I trust my decision-making ability, I still think it's important to get a second opinion when it comes to situations involving money or decisions that make a significant impact on others."

"Being organized, I do have a checklist that I follow on all policy-related decisions and changes. If I do not have all necessary information to make an important decision, I can usually find answers in our company resource database, or I will consult an administrator more tenured than I."

"Immediate decisions are required of me on a daily basis. For instance, what do I do when a forklift driver doesn't show up for their shift? How do I react to a chemical spill in the warehouse? I find that the most effective method for making immediate decisions is to forget about what you don't know and focus on what you do know. That's the best anyone can do, and there is no sense wasting time on the what ifs, especially in my industry when the safety of others could be at risk."

"In my current company, we have a rule always to do what will make the client happiest. So, when I am in a situation where I need to make an immediate decision on a client file, I will ask myself what I would want if I were the client. Then, I jump into action to make that happen."

"Often when a customer is worked up, I only have a piece of the puzzle to go off of, whether because they haven't given the full story, or I'm pulled in by the associate who heard the full story. In either case, it's something I'm accustomed to and deal with daily. As far as customer problems go, they tend to follow the same general pattern, so I assess quickly what category the problem seems to fall in, and go from there."

"I am a strong believer in following my gut, and for the most part, it has not steered me wrong. I try to gather as much information as possible, but when all of the pieces are not accessible, I assess the situation using my prior knowledge of similar situations, and I follow my intuition. If I'm not certain or feel conflicted, I don't hesitate to bring in another person to help me come to the best decision for the company."

"I feel comfortable making an immediate decision, even if I don't have all of the relevant information, for the most part. I have great confidence in my situational knowledge as an experienced educator. One example that comes to mind was the class when there was a behavior outburst. I immediately leaped into action to diffuse the situation the best way I knew. By acting quickly, I can prevent the situation from further escalating."

16. How do you deal with distracting coworkers who stand in the way of your progress?

Even the most well-meaning coworkers can distract you from getting things done at work from time to time. The funny and entertaining coworkers who like to chat online and send YouTube videos are often the ones who can get in the way of your productivity if you let them. How do you respond? Show off your ability to set professional boundaries, when needed.

"I typically just set a kind, but clear, boundary and tell my coworker that I need to focus. I will offer an alternate time for a catch-up, over lunch for example. It is important for the sake of workplace culture to set aside time to be social with coworkers, so I usually just let them know when I'll be available for a quick break in the day."

"I understand working relationships are significant, and I'm sure to make time for them so that I can be useful but also enjoy myself at work. With that said, I know where these relationships fall regarding prioritization of my day. I make sure that others know that, too, without being off-putting."

"I am always interrupted by my team - that is par for the course being a manager. To deal with any lost time, I will simply stay late or come to work a bit earlier the next day. My day is unpredictable, and I have accepted that fact."

"I am very open with my colleagues and will let them know if they are a distraction. Currently, I can take my work home as well so if there is a part that I cannot get past due to distractions; I will take a day to work from my home office."

"I try to make the workplace as fun as possible, within reason. I love to make it a place people want to go to, instead of dread. That said, there are always the people that ruin it for the rest of the team by taking advantage. To combat this, I make it very clear what the expectations of allowed and prohibited behaviors are, and am sure to reinforce those expectations."

"There are always going to be co-workers who are there for the gab, rather than the work, or who are content just being in their position with no intent of advancing through the ranks. Early in my career, this bothered me. Why weren't they motivated to grow and learn? Then, I realized that it's important to have those people since a company can't have all its people always vying for the top. If there's a distracting coworker, I try to make my priorities clear and engage kindly and courteously with them as humans, and then get back to work. I am sure to remain friendly, while also firm, as needed, to communicate that I am here for work first as a priority."

"Very rarely do I find that my coworkers successfully distract me- even in a department meeting, I find I'm able to remain on task. I was always taught to ignore the behavior you wish to cease. If my coworkers are distracting and seeking attention, I try to ignore it as much as possible and only address it when it's detracting from a productive work environment."

17. Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot to solve a problem.

Troubleshooting is like reverse engineering - it takes skill, effort, and patience. You have to understand the problem to know how to work backward from it to find a solution. Knowing how to solve problems with technical equipment is always a solid skill, and a great way to demonstrate your example. Show that you are insightful in your approach.

"Last week, while operating the ultrasound machine, I was receiving a repeated error. I entered in a few different codes, but that didn't solve the issue. I then did a hard reset, removing all power sources. Then, I referred to the online manual for additional suggestions. It took a little time and patience, but I was able to resolve the issue without calling a technician."

"We do not have an IT department in my current office so whenever an issue arises, I am the person that my team calls. Troubleshooting is fun for me - it's like a new challenge every time. Google and IT forums are often my best friend!"

"We had a major complication in our system and our entire production line shut down. Our network administrator could not be reached so I had to go old-school and manually enter the orders so that my team could continue with production. The entire debacle lasted half of a day, and my system worked well as a placeholder."

"One of our clients called me in a panic, saying that Facebook rejected their ad campaign that we so carefully crafted. I researched on ad policy forums and learned that it was not approved because we did not set our demographic targets to people only over the age of 21. The ad was for a craft beer company, and we did not put into consideration the legal age in most states. Once I was able to narrow down the issue, I tweaked the ad, and it was approved."

"One horrific day at work, our systems went down entirely. We had no backup for how to check customers out, so I had to dig in the deep recesses of the back room and find the card imprint machines, and we wrote out tickets by hand and made imprints of the cards. I tried all the usual tricks to get our registers up, but couldn't get them to come online as it was a network error. I found the way around it with the handprint cards and then opening the cash drawer with a key."

"In a troubleshooting situation, I approach it like a maze and work backward. There are usually multiple factors contributing to any one issue, so I try to discern what they are, weigh those out and try to conclude what the potential best solution is. As far as technically speaking, my go-to in many situations, as rudimentary and childish as it may be, is often turn it off and turn it back on. Ha. I know it sounds too simple, but it often works best."

"I do everything I can to test out the technology before I bring it into the classroom- the day is so packed that we don't have any time to spare on figuring out technology if it acts up. I also always have a backup plan in mind in case the smart board or whatever we're utilizing that day doesn't cooperate, so we don't lose precious learning time." However, I believe that troubleshooting applies to more than just technology. Problems that occur offline also need troubleshooting as they arise, including figuring out a lesson plan and how it works or doesn't. It's all about working backward to see what issues, if any, may arise in its implementation during a dry run. By preparing in advance and being aware of what issues may come up, I'm able to flush out problems that would have otherwise arisen during the class time. "

18. Tell me about a time when your analysis of a problem was deemed to be incorrect. What would you have done differently?

Everyone makes mistakes when analyzing a situation. The interviewer isn't concerned with perfection; instead, they want to know how you deal the aftermath of rejection! Sometimes you can't correct your mistakes, but you can certainly learn from them. Highlight your ability to learn from your mistakes and move on, professionally.

"It was my first job as a physician's assistant, and I was trying to diagnose a patient who had severe pain in her abdomen. After running some tests, the doctor and I believed she was suffering from a gallbladder problem. We treated her, but she came back to the ER a week later. It turned out she had a problem with her pancreas. Even though we misdiagnosed her initially, we were able to use this mistake to help us identify the real problem. I've learned that sometimes making a mistake is a part of the process of solving a more complicated problem."

"I was asked recently to work on balancing an accounts receivable report. Math is not my strongest suit; however, I was confident in my ability to make it happen. Through a bit of research, I carefully worked on the document and was quite proud of my result. It turns out, I skipped a few important steps, and my work was, in fact, incorrect. I took it as a learning opportunity but also realized that my strengths are in other areas of business. I should have asked for the project to be placed with someone else, but I do not regret trying."

"We had incredibly high turnover rates when I first started in my current role. Going in guns blazing, wanting to make a strong first impression, I did a complete overhaul of the training manual thinking that was the problem. It turns out the training manual was just fine. The culprit to the turnover was one employee who was a complete bully on the job. The moment I terminated that person, the issue was solved. At least now I have a fancy new training manual! Moving forward, I now poll my team regularly for job satisfaction. I encourage a transparent workplace culture where people feel safe bringing their issues to me."

"I had a client, earlier in my career, who was not seeing the same results from their Facebook advertising as they once did. I changed the headlines, increased the budget, and even did multiple A-B tests. What I failed to see were the strategic algorithm changes that Facebook had made, which directly affected the visibility of my clients' ads. Now, I have alerts and subscribe to a couple of blogs solely dedicated to these changes, so I never miss a beat."

"Unfortunately, this happened not too long ago where I misjudged a customer complaint. The associate needed to escalate the conflict to a manager but did not accurately portray the customer's concern, and I jumped into action based off of the limited information given. Due to not gathering enough information from the customer herself or clarifying the misunderstanding with the associate, I took a misstep with the customer and did not resolve the issue as quickly as I would have liked. Ultimately, I was able to clarify the situation and get to a resolution that worked for everyone, leaving the customer happy. However I have some regrets. It was a learning process, and something I have been sure not to repeat since. Were I to do it again, I would clarify the situation with the customer, rather than taking the associate's word for it."

"When pitching an existing client on increased volume next year, I had made a recommendation on the most effective carrier for a lane. I based this recommendation on historical data and projected future rates. However, a merger occurred after the time of the pitch, and their prices skyrocketed since they were the only viable carrier for that area. Without competition, they didn't have to remain competitive in their rates. While I could not have predicted the merger, I could have quoted out with a higher margin on our part so that if there were some snag like this, we are covered. Since we lock in the rates for the customer, we took a loss each time they moved freight this way. As a backup method, whenever possible, I attempted to send the freight another way, so that we would lose some money but not take as large of a hit. That was a big learning experience for me and has helped me be better prepared to pitch other customers in a more effective, CYA type way."

"While teaching, the kids told me that I needed to quiet down at one point. I assumed it was the teacher whom I shared a wall with, that planted the seed, which was irksome. This type of situation had happened before. This time, however, I was wrong. I asked her to avoid delivering messages to me through the students, and she said she had not. Apparently, the students knew she had a headache that day, so they were all watching their volume level. I was glad that I did address the situation with the teacher, but made sure not to be accusatory or make assumptions about motives again."

19. Tell me about the most challenging aspect of your previous job. How did you overcome it?

Sometimes the most significant workplace challenge is a difficult task that puts you outside of your comfort zone. It could be something that requires skills you haven't mastered yet or qualities where you are not the strongest. Explain to the interviewer why it was difficult but be sure to spend more time highlighting the actions you took to overcome the challenge.

"The most challenging aspect of my last job was troubleshooting some of the older technology. We needed some serious upgrades, but they weren't in the budget. Learning how to work around this problem was quite a challenge, but I learned how by referring to old manuals and online forums. I ended up to become one of the stronger users of this program, in our entire office! I quickly became the go-to person when anyone had questions about the technology."

"In my current role, we have global offices that span four time zones. It is an incredible challenge to be continually calculating the difference in my mind when I call or email on updates for projects, for instance. I now have each locations time added to my desktop, my smartphone, and four individual clocks on my wall. These small and inexpensive changes made all the difference."

"The most challenging aspect of my previous job was the constant need to pivot when it came to trends in the industry. We would gain footing, and then the next greatest product would arrive. It made it difficult to feel loyalty to any of it. I started to express loyalty to the company's ability to discern great products instead of narrowing in on the products themselves. This shift in thought helped with mine and my teams' performance when it came to sales."

"My previous role was with a small agency where budgets were always a concern by the clients. Although I liked the clients, they were usually independent businesses with less than ten employees. They had a hard time thinking big-picture. I overcame this by coming up with a questionnaire that would address their greatest pain points and needs for their business. I would then focus on their small goals versus what I felt their company could be. Some business owners are more comfortable being comfortable, versus ruling the world, and that's okay! I just needed to wrap my marketing brain around that."

"The most challenging part of my prior role was navigating the landscape as the newest manager on the team. I needed to work on gaining the trust and respect despite my being green. I worked hard to build individual relationships with each associate and forge a bond with them. I also shared information about myself, including my experience in the industry, and who I am as a person. I know that this made me more human, approachable, and also solidified my credentials, so I know how to get the team on my side."

"The most challenging part of my previous job was relying on another team to be efficient. I am all for teamwork, but for me to be paid, this team needed to deliver timely and quality work. Meanwhile, their goals and metrics remained disconnected to any sales outcomes. This situation made it tough to motivate them. In the short term, I sat down with them and explained why it was vital for myself them, and the company that we work together on the same timeline. I incentivized them with coffee or store gift cards. Bigger picture, I sat down with the management of both teams and shared the issues we were having, suggesting a solution that would tie their KPIs and financial incentives to our outcomes, to make them invested. In the end, the short- and long-term approaches proved useful."

"I think the most challenging aspect of my current job is the fact that I share a classroom with another educator. Without having my space, other obstacles come up such as teachers trying to influence how I run my class, or them holding small conversations with their aides during my teaching time. I make sure to address this up front with the classroom teachers- that while it is also their room, please treat it as though it were mine during the 40 minutes that I am teaching. If there is ever an issue, I am sure to address it quickly and directly, so we can move past it."

20. When faced with a problem, are you more likely to jump into solving it, or are you the type to carefully assess the issue first?

The interviewer would like to know more about your problem-solving skills, and your personality. Discuss how you tackle problems when they arise, and keep your answer work-related if you can. Whether you are the type to jump right into solving a problem or you are more methodical in your approach, highlight to the interviewer that you are capable of handling issues professionally while using sound judgment.

"When faced with a problem, I am more likely to jump right into solving it. I believe that you cannot leave a problem to fester or become bigger than it already is. You have to take ownership of the issue, and involve yourself in the resolution right away. With that said, I am responsible for my decision making and certainly don't jump in blind. If I am unsure of what action to take, I will ask my leader for advice."

"I am careful and calculated in every step taken when it comes to problem-solving. This effort is because as an administrator, one error in judgment can throw off the timing of an entire project. I would say that I am the particular type who thoroughly assesses situations."

"As a manager, responsible for a team of 18 individuals, I need to be very calculated in most decisions that I make. I cannot act on the fly, or by emotion alone because others are relying on me."

"In marketing, I feel that I often have to do both. Some smaller decisions simply cannot be over-thought and others, especially when it comes to strategy, will need extra thought. I can provide both sides when appropriate."

"I think it depends on the situation at hand, honestly. In a familiar situation, I am ready to jump right in and tackle the problem. However, when the stakes are high, or tension is high, I am more inclined to take a step back, slow down, and be more tactful in my approach."

"I'm a "roll up my sleeves" kind of person. I see a problem, envision a solution, and begin to tackle it, figuring it out as I go and asking for help along the way. I think it can become a 'bury your head in the sand' issue, or the team will have the bystander effect, thinking someone else is going to take care of it, so I jump in and take action. I rally the troops, gather the appropriate supplies or resources as needed, and get to work."

"I'm the type of teacher who jumps in, head first and gets the work done. I know that the longer I wait to address a problem, the bigger it becomes, so I make sure to get right to it. This approach applies to interpersonal issues as well as curriculum missteps."

21. Give me a recent example of a valuable lesson you learned from a problem you faced at work.

One of the best aspects of problem-solving is that you always have the opportunity to learn from the experience. Seeing problems as opportunities to grow, is what makes you an excellent employee! Show the interviewer that you can learn valuable lessons when there is a problem at hand. Use a work-related example, if you can.

"Last month our sales team was facing a major challenge when we lost one of our primary distributors. I took action and started cold-calling, other potential distributors. I brainstormed with my team in some other ways that we could avoid a negative impact on our bottom line. We were quite successful in our recovery, and I would say that the biggest lesson I learned from the experience is that you are often only successful if you have motivated people in your corner."

"The most valuable lesson I learned from problem-solving at work is that not everyone will see your solution as the best one. Accepting change is difficult for some people, so I have found that not everyone will be on board right away."

"I recently had an employee express their disinterest in the job and the company. Rather than coach them out, I selfishly wanted to 'save' the employee. I put in extra hours mentoring and training her, just to see her quit anyways. It's a valuable lesson as a manager to put your energy into those who want to be there. Other efforts are often just a temporary fix for the inevitable."

"Marketing is always shifting so I often learn new, valuable lessons. One lesson I recently learned was to double check the documents that I send out for any needed updates. A lot of the manuals and how-tos that we send clients are evergreen; however, some are not. I accidentally sent an old social media guide to a client, and they ended up being incredibly confused. My lack of attention to detail at that moment was a bit embarrassing but lesson learned!"

"A recent learning experience was when I misjudged what the customer was upset about, and I didn't take the time to learn what it was that she was looking for. It reminded me to slow down, go back to the basics, and not assume that all situations fit the mold of the 'typical' customer. It was a perfect reminder that though I've seen most everything, I need to remember that each person and situation is unique."

"A recent valuable lesson for me has been not putting all of my eggs in one basket, as the old saying goes. Over 64% of my sales came from one group of stores, and they've always been a big contributor to the entire company's sales numbers. However, they were put on "hold" recently by their corporate, due to some restructuring issues. This event threw me for a loop. I was in real danger of not hitting my monthly sales target, and therefore I would have fallen short on my quarterly quota as well. I had to work extra long hours and hustle my other clients and fence-sitters to get them into "buy" mode to make up for the void in my numbers. It took a ton of effort, long nights, and creative pitches, but I was able to make up for the gap. I learned just how important it is to diversify my portfolio so that I don't find myself, or the company, in this position again."

"When working on curriculum development, I learned an important lesson. Two of our teachers wanted to keep a lesson in, because of personal connections to the lesson, but the other three were quite against it, with me being the uncertain one. I saw the validity in both sides. So, rather than find ourselves with a divisive issue on our hands, I proposed that we have a "freebie" lesson when we each got to pick one that we thought would culturally enrich our students. I learned that by thinking outside of the box, the team and our students would all benefit."

22. When change occurs in the workplace, it can create new problems. Do you see these as inconvenient problems, or opportunities to learn?

When a change occurs in the workplace, often problems arise due to new implementations and procedures, or unforeseen kinks needing to be worked out. Do you approach these problems positively or do you resist the change? Talk to the interviewer about how you can adapt to the inevitable issues that come with the change in the workplace.

"I fully understand that when the change occurs in the workplace, some new problems may arise because of it. I embrace workplace change because it often gives me the opportunity to learn a new skill or even teach a colleague a new skill."

"As an executive assistant, I see change all the time. Policy changes, travel changes, issues in scheduling, and the like. Although they are often inconvenient or threaten to throw my day off, I am always prepared with a Plan B. Each time these situations occur, I learn something new."

"Change is inevitable when you work with people because you cannot control everyone's reactions in a day, or whether they even show up to work. Recently I had a major shift in my team and, overnight, went from being completely confident in my team to the need of reassessing our strategy. I saw this as an opportunity to stretch outside of my comfort zone. I embrace change and learning opportunities."

"One change that we always go through in this industry are shifts related to social media platforms and online trends. These tools are ever evolving, and when you think you have it - poof - changes are made. I don't mind this, however. I believe that each shift is a chance to learn something new."

"I like to approach every day and situation as an opportunity to learn and grow, so even though it's uncomfortable, I like to think that there's something valuable to take away from any situation that involves change."

"I'm all about taking everything in stride and jumping on opportunities for growth and improvement. My latest job has been a year-long exercise in that: a start-up that pivoted entirely from the direction it had been going in when I was brought on, with an entirely new team and even intended client base. I decided to take it as a growth opportunity. I took a deep breath, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work learning and adapting to the new product, clients, and management. I think that the experience will serve me well in the future since I became quite flexible and learned a lot about myself and sales in the process."

"I am adaptable to change. As a teacher, I have to be open to change! Nothing stays the same in education and students challenge everything. I am capable of pivoting when needed and am not thrown off my game, easily."

23. Rate your problem solving skills from 1-10. How do you justify your rating?

The interviewer wants to know how you would rate your problem-solving skills. Of course, you want to give yourself a healthy rating; however, it's crucial that you remain realistic. Try to avoid giving yourself a 10, and nobody is perfect, and you do not want to come across as overly confident or someone who has no room for feedback and improvement. Alternately, avoid giving yourself too little credit. You do not want to paint the picture that you are a problem-solving dud! Try to remain in the 7.5-9.5 range while staying honest and accurate. Everyone has room to learn and improve! Be sure to justify your score as well.

"I rate my problem-solving skills as an 8/10. I will, on occasion, have times when I am not as efficient as I would like to be but all in all, I do feel that my problem-solving skills are above average. My supervisor and co-workers will attest to my fast reflexes when a problem arises, and they would also say that I remain calm under pressure."

"I will rate myself an eight because I value problem-solving but, just like most people, I have things to learn. Some ways to ensure that I can effectively solve issues are by utilizing multiple knowledge resources when looking for answers."

"I will rate myself an 8.5 because I consider myself a strong problem solver, especially when it comes to important matters that affect my team. Solid problem-solving skills are the foundation of success in business. I am always striving to be a better problem solver, so I leave the rest of the scale as an aspirational measure."

"Problem-solving is at the heart of what we do in marketing. We have to solve branding and sales issues for our clients all the time. I am an exceptional problem-solver, and quite creative with my strategies. For that reason, I will rate myself as a 9/10 and always improving."

"I'd rate my problem-solving skills as an 8/10. I believe I'm always a willing learner who brings creativity to the table, no matter what the situation. I am still full of ideas on how to solve a problem, and yet I am also open to the opinion and input of others. I like to collaborate but am not afraid to take charge and make it happen. There's room for growth, which is why I give myself only an 8!"

"I would say I get a solid 8.3 on a scale of 10. Seems weird to give myself something like a .3, but I think of it as an 83%, which is a B minus teetering on a solid B. It's a solid grade, with definite room for improvement, since I'm certainly not perfect. The reason for the B-/B grade would be that I'm quick to take action and figure out the solution as I go, but sometimes I could benefit from taking a moment to pause and reflect or gather other contributors before taking action. That said, I believe I get the best outcome possible when faced with a challenge."

"I would say I'm a strong problem solver and would rate myself an 8/10. I follow my gut and problem solve creatively, but know there is still room for improvement. I think my teamwork and problem strategies highlight my strengths in problem-solving. I can hear what people find essential and flush out the things on which we can compromise. Then, I come up with a great outcome that makes the teachers happy and is in the best interest of our students."

24. What do you think might be the greatest challenges faced in this job? How will you overcome these challenges?

Even though it may seem like a dream job, the interviewer wants to know that you have realistic expectations of the role and that you will not be blindsided if problems or challenges present themselves. Keep your answer simple. It is okay to ask for clarification on the position if you do not fully understand what challenges are in store for you.

"I think the greatest challenges in this role will be to learn the proper operation of the equipment. Another challenge will be the physical aspect of the position as I will be required to stand and walk around most of the day. I will be sure to pay keen attention to training and ask questions along the way. In regards to the physical component - I will get used to the additional activity after just a couple of days, I'm sure."

"I believe that the greatest challenge in this job will be to learn the ins and outs of your systems. I am familiar with SAP; however, will need to navigate some modules that will be new to me. If you don't mind, I would like to gain a head start on these by studying online for the next weekend or so."

"As a new manager, the biggest challenge is always to earn the trust of my new team. I plan to do this by getting to know everyone through genuine interest and conversation. I do understand that solid trust develops over time, but it's important to me to get started on the right foot."

"The greatest challenge is going to be getting to know your clients and their preferences. Every client has their quirks that need to be kept the top of mind during projects. I plan to read as many project notes as possible before diving into face-to-face meetings. I intend to come across to your clients as well-prepared and earnest."

"I think the added responsibility of running one of the highest volume departments in the store will be an adjustment, but it's a welcome challenge. I am looking forward to tackling it head on and growing through the challenges, because I know on the other side of those challenges, of that responsibility, lies the biggest opportunity yet."

"I would say the greatest challenge I'll face in this role is learning the industry ins and outs to be perceived as an expert when making the pitch to new clients. I want to be sure to immerse myself in the industry jargon, attend as many seminars and conventions as possible, and I've already begun subscribing and reading the leading industry publications so that I can get into the nitty-gritty of how it all works. Of course, I will also seek out mentorship opportunities where I can learn from folks who have been in the industry for years. I find they love to share their knowledge and it gives me a leg up."

"I believe the greatest challenge faced in this new position would be getting accustomed to the new curriculum. I am accustomed to my lesson plans and the curriculum I've had a hand in developing over the last ten years, so something new will have a bit of a learning curve, but welcomed. I am looking forward to a new challenge and to tackle a new set of lessons!"

25. What steps do you take to solve a problem?

The interviewer would like to know that you understand the importance of taking calculated steps when problem-solving in the workplace. Most candidates want to sound like go-getters, and their first instinct would be to say that they jump right in. Jumping right in can cause costly mistakes and oversights. Assure the interviewer that you will workshop the issue before diving in! Here are some steps to take: 1. Identify The Problem. Proper problem solving involves ensuring that you are very clear on the nature of the problem. Be sure that you fully understand the core of the problem before trying to repair it. 2. Identify The Stakeholders. Ask yourself, what the best case resolution will be for all stakeholders, not just for yourself. Ask yourself what is best for the company, your coworkers, and your clients. 3. List Your Options. The third step is to figure out what your options are when it comes to your course of action. Write them down if you need to. 4. Evaluate Your Options. Take a look at your list of potential actions and see if you can solve the problem using just one, or a blend of them. 5. Execute! Finally, execute your well-researched action plan. Be sure to set up a follow-up time to ensure that your solution worked.

"When I need to solve a problem, I first stop to ensure that I understand the issue at hand. Once I do, I will think of potential fixes and the pros and cons of each. Whichever solution or a blend of solutions is best for the customer; I will choose that option."

"My current company is very team-focused, and we train everyone to problem-solve with "what is best for team morale" being the question at hand. I have been with the company for twelve years so most problems I have a pretty clear idea of what will work for us, but when I need to workshop an idea, I will call in my team and have a brainstorm session."

"Problem-solving in Marketing can be unique because you have to truly balance the customers' pain point with the solutions that are currently available. Also, some clients like trying new marketing methods and others want to remain conservative, using only tried and true advertising methods, for instance. When I approach a problem, I first identify the personality of the client and their business and research options from there."

"Problem-solving in a retail environment is challenging in the sense that the issue is often something that needs to be fixed immediately, like a faulty product or an upset customer. When faced with a problem, I ask questions first, to ensure that I fully understand the core of the issue. Once I fully understand the core of the problem, I can more easily troubleshoot from there."

"Every customer is different, with unique needs, so when I need to problem-solve, I am often coming across a brand new problem or a different version of a problem I have seen before. Our company is big on chasing the money, and so I have been trained that every solution I choose must have the business' bottom line top of mind. My process is to understand the issue, address who the stakeholders are, and create a solution where everyone feels they won in some small way."

"Problem-solving in the classroom is a challenge because it is often on the fly. Or, a student will ask a question in a new way and I won't necessarily have the answer! When a problem arises, I like to involve my class, have a brainstorm session, and discuss as a group what we could do. This method turns an issue into a conversation where we have the opportunity to come up with some unique solutions."

15 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions

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In an interview for a big tech company, I was asked if I’d ever resolved a fight — and the exact way I went about handling it. I felt blindsided, and I stammered my way through an excuse of an answer.

It’s a familiar scenario to fellow technical job seekers — and one that risks leaving a sour taste in our mouths. As candidate experience becomes an increasingly critical component of the hiring process, recruiters need to ensure the problem-solving interview questions they prepare don’t dissuade talent in the first place. 

Interview questions designed to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving skills are more often than not challenging and vague. Assessing a multifaceted skill like problem solving is tricky — a good problem solver owns the full solution and result, researches well, solves creatively and takes action proactively. 

It’s hard to establish an effective way to measure such a skill. But it’s not impossible.

We recommend taking an informed and prepared approach to testing candidates’ problem-solving skills . With that in mind, here’s a list of a few common problem-solving interview questions, the science behind them — and how you can go about administering your own problem-solving questions with the unique challenges of your organization in mind.

Key Takeaways for Effective Problem-Solving Interview Questions

  • Problem solving lies at the heart of programming. 
  • Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE. Problem-solving interview questions should test both technical skills and soft skills.
  • STAR, SOAR and PREP are methods a candidate can use to answer some non-technical problem-solving interview questions.
  • Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s fit. But you can go one step further by customizing them according to your company’s service, product, vision, and culture. 

Technical Problem-Solving Interview Question Examples

Evaluating a candidates’ problem-solving skills while using coding challenges might seem intimidating. The secret is that coding challenges test many things at the same time — like the candidate’s knowledge of data structures and algorithms, clean code practices, and proficiency in specific programming languages, to name a few examples.

Problem solving itself might at first seem like it’s taking a back seat. But technical problem solving lies at the heart of programming, and most coding questions are designed to test a candidate’s problem-solving abilities.

Here are a few examples of technical problem-solving questions:

1. Mini-Max Sum  

This well-known challenge, which asks the interviewee to find the maximum and minimum sum among an array of given numbers, is based on a basic but important programming concept called sorting, as well as integer overflow. It tests the candidate’s observational skills, and the answer should elicit a logical, ad-hoc solution.

2. Organizing Containers of Balls  

This problem tests the candidate’s knowledge of a variety of programming concepts, like 2D arrays, sorting and iteration. Organizing colored balls in containers based on various conditions is a common question asked in competitive examinations and job interviews, because it’s an effective way to test multiple facets of a candidate’s problem-solving skills.

3. Build a Palindrome

This is a tough problem to crack, and the candidate’s knowledge of concepts like strings and dynamic programming plays a significant role in solving this challenge. This problem-solving example tests the candidate’s ability to think on their feet as well as their ability to write clean, optimized code.

4. Subarray Division

Based on a technique used for searching pairs in a sorted array ( called the “two pointers” technique ), this problem can be solved in just a few lines and judges the candidate’s ability to optimize (as well as basic mathematical skills).

5. The Grid Search 

This is a problem of moderate difficulty and tests the candidate’s knowledge of strings and searching algorithms, the latter of which is regularly tested in developer interviews across all levels.

Common Non-Technical Problem-Solving Interview Questions 

Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE . Everyday situations can help illustrate competency, so here are a few questions that focus on past experiences and hypothetical situations to help interviewers gauge problem-solving skills.

1. Given the problem of selecting a new tool to invest in, where and how would you begin this task? 

Key Insight : This question offers insight into the candidate’s research skills. Ideally, they would begin by identifying the problem, interviewing stakeholders, gathering insights from the team, and researching what tools exist to best solve for the team’s challenges and goals. 

2. Have you ever recognized a potential problem and addressed it before it occurred? 

Key Insight: Prevention is often better than cure. The ability to recognize a problem before it occurs takes intuition and an understanding of business needs. 

3. A teammate on a time-sensitive project confesses that he’s made a mistake, and it’s putting your team at risk of missing key deadlines. How would you respond?

Key Insight: Sometimes, all the preparation in the world still won’t stop a mishap. Thinking on your feet and managing stress are skills that this question attempts to unearth. Like any other skill, they can be cultivated through practice.

4. Tell me about a time you used a unique problem-solving approach. 

Key Insight: Creativity can manifest in many ways, including original or novel ways to tackle a problem. Methods like the 10X approach and reverse brainstorming are a couple of unique approaches to problem solving. 

5. Have you ever broken rules for the “greater good?” If yes, can you walk me through the situation?

Key Insight: “Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.” It’s unconventional, but in some situations, it may be the mindset needed to drive a solution to a problem.

6. Tell me about a weakness you overcame at work, and the approach you took. 

Key Insight: According to Compass Partnership , “self-awareness allows us to understand how and why we respond in certain situations, giving us the opportunity to take charge of these responses.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with a problem. Candidates showing high levels of self-awareness are positioned to handle it well.

7. Have you ever owned up to a mistake at work? Can you tell me about it?

Key Insight: Everybody makes mistakes. But owning up to them can be tough, especially at a workplace. Not only does it take courage, but it also requires honesty and a willingness to improve, all signs of 1) a reliable employee and 2) an effective problem solver.

8. How would you approach working with an upset customer?

Key Insight: With the rise of empathy-driven development and more companies choosing to bridge the gap between users and engineers, today’s tech teams speak directly with customers more frequently than ever before. This question brings to light the candidate’s interpersonal skills in a client-facing environment.

9. Have you ever had to solve a problem on your own, but needed to ask for additional help? How did you go about it? 

Key Insight: Knowing when you need assistance to complete a task or address a situation is an important quality to have while problem solving. This questions helps the interviewer get a sense of the candidate’s ability to navigate those waters. 

10. Let’s say you disagree with your colleague on how to move forward with a project. How would you go about resolving the disagreement?

Key Insight: Conflict resolution is an extremely handy skill for any employee to have; an ideal answer to this question might contain a brief explanation of the conflict or situation, the role played by the candidate and the steps taken by them to arrive at a positive resolution or outcome. 

Strategies for Answering Problem-Solving Questions

If you’re a job seeker, chances are you’ll encounter this style of question in your various interview experiences. While problem-solving interview questions may appear simple, they can be easy to fumble — leaving the interviewer without a clear solution or outcome. 

It’s important to approach such questions in a structured manner. Here are a few tried-and-true methods to employ in your next problem-solving interview.

1. Shine in Interviews With the STAR Method

S ituation, T ask, A ction, and R esult is a great method that can be employed to answer a problem-solving or behavioral interview question. Here’s a breakdown of these steps:

  • Situation : A good way to address almost any interview question is to lay out and define the situation and circumstances. 
  • Task : Define the problem or goal that needs to be addressed. Coding questions are often multifaceted, so this step is particularly important when answering technical problem-solving questions.
  • Action : How did you go about solving the problem? Try to be as specific as possible, and state your plan in steps if you can.
  • Result : Wrap it up by stating the outcome achieved. 

2. Rise above difficult questions using the SOAR method

A very similar approach to the STAR method, SOAR stands for S ituation, O bstacle, A ction, and R esults .

  • Situation: Explain the state of affairs. It’s important to steer clear of stating any personal opinions in this step; focus on the facts.
  • Obstacle: State the challenge or problem you faced.
  • Action: Detail carefully how you went about overcoming this obstacle.
  • Result: What was the end result? Apart from overcoming the obstacle, did you achieve anything else? What did you learn in the process? 

3. Do It the PREP Way

Traditionally used as a method to make effective presentations, the P oint, R eason, E xample, P oint method can also be used to answer problem-solving interview questions.  

  • Point : State the solution in plain terms. 
  • Reasons: Follow up the solution by detailing your case — and include any data or insights that support your solution. 
  • Example: In addition to objective data and insights, drive your answer home by contextualizing the solution in a real-world example.
  • Point : Reiterate the solution to make it come full circle.

How to Customize Problem-Solving Interview Questions 

Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s skill level, but recruiters can go one step further by customizing these problem-solving questions according to their company’s service, product, vision, or culture. 

Here are some tips to do so:

  • Break down the job’s responsibilities into smaller tasks. Job descriptions may contain ambiguous responsibilities like “manage team projects effectively.” To formulate an effective problem-solving question, envision what this task might look like in a real-world context and develop a question around it.  
  • Tailor questions to the role at hand. Apart from making for an effective problem-solving question, it gives the candidate the impression you’re an informed technical recruiter. For example, an engineer will likely have attended many scrums. So, a good question to ask is: “Suppose you notice your scrums are turning unproductive. How would you go about addressing this?” 
  • Consider the tools and technologies the candidate will use on the job. For example, if Jira is the primary project management tool, a good problem-solving interview question might be: “Can you tell me about a time you simplified a complex workflow — and the tools you used to do so?”
  • If you don’t know where to start, your company’s core values can often provide direction. If one of the core values is “ownership,” for example, consider asking a question like: “Can you walk us through a project you owned from start to finish?” 
  • Sometimes, developing custom content can be difficult even with all these tips considered. Our platform has a vast selection of problem-solving examples that are designed to help recruiters ask the right questions to help nail their next technical interview.

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50 Problem Solving Examples for Interview Success in 2024

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Problem-solving interview questions are a common tool used by employers to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills. These questions are designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to think critically, analyze information, and propose effective solutions to complex problems.

Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

Problem-solving skills are essential in the workplace as they help individuals to overcome challenges, make informed decisions, and improve productivity. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, problem-solving skills are becoming increasingly important, as they are one of the few skills that cannot be easily automated. Employers value individuals with strong problem-solving skills as they believe that these individuals can lead to better decision-making and improved organizational performance.

Understanding the Problem-Solving Process

When it comes to problem-solving, there is a well-established process that can guide individuals in reaching the best possible solutions. This process is composed of seven steps that can be applied to any problem or challenge one might encounter.

A. Define the Problem

The first step in the problem-solving process is to define the problem. This step involves identifying and understanding what the problem is, why it is occurring, and what its impact is on the situation or environment. A well-defined problem allows for a better understanding of the issue and helps in finding an appropriate solution.

B. Gather Information

The second step of the process is to gather information. In order to find the best solution, one must have complete and accurate information about the problem. Gathering information can be done through research, surveys, interviews, or any other means of collecting data relevant to the problem at hand.

C. Analyze Information

Once enough information has been collected, it is time to analyze it. This step involves the process of examining the data, identifying patterns, and looking for any underlying causes that might be contributing to the problem.

D. Develop Solutions

After analyzing the data, it is time to develop solutions. This step involves brainstorming potential solutions, evaluating their feasibility, and assessing their effectiveness. It is important to keep an open mind and to consider multiple approaches when developing solutions.

E. Select the Best Solution

Once potential solutions have been identified, it is time to select the best one. This involves weighing the pros and cons of each solution and selecting the one that is most likely to be effective in resolving the problem.

F. Implement the Solution

With the best solution selected, it is time to put it into action. This step involves developing an implementation plan, allocating resources, and taking the necessary steps to put the chosen solution into practice.

G. Monitor and Evaluate the Solution

The final step in the problem-solving process is to monitor and evaluate the chosen solution. It is important to assess its effectiveness and to make adjustments as necessary. This step involves monitoring the situation over time, collecting feedback, and identifying areas for improvement.

Understanding the problem-solving process is critical for success in interviews and in life. By following the seven steps outlined above, individuals can improve their ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems in a systematic and effective manner.

Behavioral Interview Questions

One of the most common interview techniques used by employers is the behavioral interview. This type of interview focuses on asking questions about past experiences to better understand how a candidate might behave in certain situations.

A. Explanation of Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions are designed to help the employer get a sense of how the candidate has handled specific situations in the past. For example, a question might ask the candidate to describe a time when they had to deal with a difficult customer or how they handle conflicts in the workplace. By asking these types of questions, the interviewer can get a better sense of the candidate’s skills and abilities.

B. How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions with Problem-Solving Examples

When answering behavioral interview questions, it is important to provide specific examples of how you handled similar situations in the past. One effective strategy is to use the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Here’s how it works:

  • Situation: Describe the situation or problem you faced.
  • Task: Explain what your role was in the situation.
  • Action: Describe the steps you took to solve the problem.
  • Result: Explain the outcome of your actions.

By using the STAR method, you can provide a clear and structured response that demonstrates your problem-solving abilities.

C. Tips and Tricks for Mastering Behavioral Interview Questions

Here are some additional tips to help you master behavioral interview questions:

  • Research common behavioral interview questions beforehand so that you can prepare your answers in advance.
  • Use specific examples from your past experience to illustrate your skills and abilities.
  • Be honest. Don’t try to misrepresent your past experiences to make yourself look better.
  • Avoid using generic or clichéd responses. Instead, be creative and try to showcase your unique strengths.
  • Practice your responses with a friend or mentor to gain confidence and improve your delivery.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any behavioral interview questions that come your way. Remember that the key is to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities by providing specific and relevant examples from your past experiences. Good luck!

Situational Interview Questions

Situational interview questions are a popular interviewing technique that is commonly used by recruiters to measure how well a candidate can handle real-life work scenarios. It’s a highly effective way to determine whether the individual has the necessary skills and knowledge to handle the demands of a particular job role.

A. Explanation of Situational Interview Questions

In situational interview questions, the recruiter will develop a hypothetical scenario about a specific work challenge or issue, which the candidate would typically experience in the role they are being interviewed for. The goal is to evaluate not only the candidate’s knowledge and skills but also to assess their critical thinking skills, decision-making skills, and problem-solving abilities.

B. How to Answer Situational Interview Questions with Problem-Solving Examples

The best way to answer situational interview questions is to use a structured problem-solving approach. This approach involves analyzing and breaking down the situation into smaller components, identifying the root cause of the problem, and devising a solution that is not only practical but also effective.

For instance, if you were asked to describe how you would handle a difficult customer in a sales role, you would first identify the source of the customer’s frustration, listen to their concerns, and develop a tailored resolution plan using the company’s policies as guidelines.

C. Tips and Tricks for Mastering Situational Interview Questions

To master situational interview questions, candidates need to prepare in advance by researching the company’s values, culture and analyzing the job description’s requirements. Candidates should also practice solving hypothetical scenarios with friends or family to become more comfortable in their approach.

It is also essential to remain calm throughout the interview, as situational interview questions can be stressful. Candidates should take their time to carefully listen to each question and ensure that they understand the question before attempting to answer.

Lastly, when answering situational interview questions, it is always best to provide specific examples of past experiences, such as a time where a problem was successfully solved, highlighting relevant skills to the role being interviewed.

By following these tips and using a structured problem-solving approach, candidates can conquer the situational interview and demonstrate their ability to handle real-world challenges effectively.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is indispensable in problem-solving. The ability to communicate effectively in a team environment is essential to achieving success. It allows each team member to synthesize their ideas, express their opinions, and share their knowledge.

A. Importance of Communication Skills in Problem-Solving

In problem-solving, communication plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Without effective communication, the team may misunderstand the problem, the solution, or the approach, which may lead to delays, inefficiencies, or potential failure.

Communication skills are crucial in problem-solving for several reasons, including:

  • Fostering a collaborative environment where ideas can be shared and discussed openly
  • Ensuring that each team member understands their role and responsibilities
  • Clarifying expectations and goals
  • Encouraging feedback and constructive criticism
  • Delineating potential risks and challenges
  • Building rapport and trust among team members

B. Examples of Problem-Solving Scenarios That Highlight Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are essential in all problem-solving scenarios, but some scenarios require stronger communication skills than others. A few examples of problem-solving scenarios that highlight the importance of communication skills include:

  • Dealing with a difficult client: A team may face a client who is dissatisfied with the project’s progress or outcome. The team must use effective communication skills to understand the client’s concerns, address their issues, and find a solution that satisfies both the client and the team.
  • Handling a conflict within the team: Conflict is a natural occurrence when working in a team. The team must use effective communication skills to identify the root cause of the conflict, discuss potential solutions, and reach a resolution that all team members agree on.
  • Brainstorming new ideas: Effective communication skills are crucial when brainstorming new ideas. Team members must use active listening skills to understand each other’s ideas, communicate their thoughts clearly, and provide feedback constructively.

C. Tips for Improving Communication Skills in Problem-Solving

Communication skills are not inherent but can be learned and improved. Here are a few tips for improving communication skills in problem-solving.

  • Practice active listening: Active listening entails being completely present in the conversation, focusing your attention on what the speaker is saying, asking questions to clarify your understanding, and providing feedback.
  • Be clear and concise: Clarity is critical in communication. Be sure to articulate your ideas clearly and concisely to avoid miscommunication.
  • Use open-ended questions: Open-ended questions encourage discussion and provide more in-depth insights than closed-ended questions.
  • Provide feedback constructively: Feedback must be constructive, objective, and sensitive to the recipient’s feelings. Focus on specific actions rather than personal traits, offer suggestions, and seek feedback in return.
  • Use visual aids: Visuals can help explain complex topics and ideas, making them easier to understand for everyone.

Effective communication skills are essential in problem-solving scenarios.

Analytical Skills

In any problem-solving scenario, analytical skills are crucial to successful outcomes. Employers seek candidates who can evaluate information, identify patterns, and develop solutions based on data-driven insights. Here are the key elements to understand:

A. Importance of Analytical Skills in Problem-Solving

Analytical skills are essential in problem-solving because they enable one to identify the root cause of a problem and develop solutions that directly address it. This approach ensures that solutions are efficient, effective, and sustainable for the long-term. Employers value analytical skills as they are essential in any competitive business environment, helping organizations stay ahead of the curve and outperform their competitors.

B. Examples of Problem-Solving Scenarios That Highlight Analytical Skills

One scenario that highlights the importance of analytical skills is when a company aims to expand its operations to a new market. To achieve this goal, the organization must first conduct market research and analyze data regarding the new market’s economic, cultural, and geopolitical landscape. With this information, the company can identify potential barriers to entry, risks and rewards, and develop a successful entry strategy.

Another example is when a manufacturing company experiences consistent product failures. Instead of implementing a quick fix, the organization could conduct a root cause analysis to identify the underlying problem. This process involves analyzing production data and investigating distinct variables such as raw materials, production methodology, and machine maintenance. By identifying the root cause, the company can then develop an effective solution to prevent future product failures.

C. Tips for Improving Analytical Skills in Problem-Solving

There are several ways to improve your analytical skills in problem-solving. The first is to improve your ability to gather and analyze data effectively. This can be achieved by becoming more proficient in data analysis tools, such as Excel, or attending training sessions on data analysis.

Secondly, it is essential to cultivate critical thinking skills. This involves analyzing information objectively, considering various perspectives, and questioning assumptions. By doing so, you may arrive at a solution that is more efficient, effective, and innovative.

Finally, it is crucial to take advantage of opportunities to develop problem-solving skills. This includes taking on challenging projects, participating in cross-functional teams, and seeking feedback from colleagues. By continually practicing problem-solving skills, you can improve your ability to evaluate information, identify patterns, and develop innovative solutions.

Analytical skills are essential in problem-solving scenarios, and applicants demonstrating these skills have a higher chance of success in job interviews. By understanding the importance of analytical skills, highlighting examples of their implementation in various contexts, and cultivating strategies to enhance these skills, you can become a more adept problem-solver and stand out to potential employers.

Creative Problem-Solving

A. importance of creative problem-solving in the workplace.

Creative problem-solving is a vital skill that is highly sought after in most workplaces. It involves applying innovative and out-of-the-box thinking to identify and fix complex problems. In today’s fast-paced business world, where competition is fierce, companies require employees who can anticipate and solve problems quickly and efficiently. As such, creative problem-solving skills have become indispensable in almost all industries, from IT to healthcare and finance.

Those who possess strong creative problem-solving skills are assets to their organizations. They are likely to be better at tackling difficult tasks and sorting out problems that other employees may have difficulty resolving. Additionally, these individuals bring new ideas and approaches to the table, improve productivity, and increase overall efficiency.

B. Examples of Creative Problem-Solving Techniques

There are numerous creative problem-solving techniques that organizations and individuals can use to enhance their ability to solve problems effectively. Some examples include:

Mind Mapping: This technique fosters creative thinking by allowing individuals to document their ideas visually. It is a great way to organize complex information and identify new connections between concepts.

Brainstorming: Brainstorming involves generating a large amount of ideas without criticizing or evaluating any of them initially. It is often used to come up with creative solutions to a particular problem.

Reverse Thinking: This technique involves considering the opposite of the problem and then brainstorming ways to achieve it. It challenges individuals to think in a different way and can produce unique solutions.

SCAMPER: An acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify or Magnify, Put to another use, Eliminate or Reverse, SCAMPER is a creative problem-solving technique that utilizes various ways to manipulate an idea or item to generate new solutions.

C. Tips for Developing Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Creative problem-solving is a skill that can be developed and honed through consistent practice. Some useful tips in developing creative problem-solving skills include:

Keep an open mind: Try to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking, even if they seem unconventional or unusual.

Take calculated risks: Do not be afraid to take calculated risks and try new approaches. Even if you fail, you will have learned something valuable.

Collaborate with others: Working with others allows for a broader range of perspectives and ideas. It can lead to more innovative solutions.

Experiment: Experiment with different creative problem-solving techniques until you find the ones that work best for you.

Keep learning: Keep up-to-date with the latest problem-solving techniques and strategies by reading books or attending workshops and seminars.

Mastering creative problem-solving is essential for career success in most industries. It enhances overall productivity, improves efficiency, and encourages innovation. By practicing various techniques and adopting several strategies, individuals can develop their creative problem-solving skills and set themselves apart in the job market.

Decision-Making Skills

Effective problem-solving requires strong decision-making skills. Decision-making is the process of choosing a course of action to address a particular situation or problem. It involves analyzing, evaluating, and selecting the most appropriate solution.

A. Importance of Decision-Making Skills in Problem-Solving

Decision-making skills are essential for effective problem-solving. Without good decision-making skills, one may struggle to make the right choices and solve problems efficiently. The ability to make informed decisions helps individuals to identify problems, explore possible solutions, and select the most suitable option.

In addition, decision-making skills enable individuals to evaluate the impact of their decisions and consider potential risks and benefits. They also allow individuals to weigh the consequences of inaction against those of action and make timely decisions.

B. Examples of Decision-Making Scenarios in Problem-Solving

There are several decision-making scenarios that individuals may encounter when solving problems. Examples include:

  • Deciding on the best course of action to take when a project is behind schedule
  • Choosing the most appropriate supplier for a particular product
  • Deciding whether to invest in a new technology or stick with the status quo
  • Prioritizing tasks when workload is overwhelming
  • Evaluating competing job offers and selecting the best one.

C. Tips for Improving Decision-Making Skills in Problem-Solving

Improving decision-making skills requires effort and practice. Here are some tips to help you improve your decision-making skills:

Gather relevant information: Before making a decision, ensure that you have access to the relevant information. This may include data, reports, and expert opinions.

Analyze and evaluate options: Consider all possible solutions and evaluate them based on their effectiveness, feasibility, and potential risks and benefits.

Seek advice: When making an important decision, seek advice from colleagues or experts in the field. This can help you gain a different perspective and identify potential blind spots.

Consider the consequences: Anticipate the consequences of your decision and evaluate the impact it may have on stakeholders, resources, and goals.

Learn from experience: Reflect on past decisions and their outcomes to improve future decision-making skills. Consider what worked well and what could have been done differently.

Decision-making skills are critical in problem-solving. The ability to make informed decisions can help individuals to identify problems, explore possible solutions, and select the most appropriate option. By following the tips outlined in this section, you can improve your decision-making skills and enhance your problem-solving abilities.

Leadership Skills

Effective leadership skills play a crucial role in problem-solving, making it an indispensable part of any job interview. Employers look for candidates who possess leadership traits and can lead a team to success. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of leadership skills in problem-solving, give examples of how leaders approach problem-solving scenarios, and provide tips on how to develop leadership skills in problem-solving.

A. Importance of Leadership Skills in Problem-Solving

When faced with a problem, a good leader takes charge and motivates their team to find a solution. They inspire confidence and provide direction, leading the team in the right direction. A leader who can effectively resolve problems creates a sense of trust and respect among their team members.

Effective leadership skills in problem-solving lead to better collaboration, communication, and decision-making. They foster creativity and innovation, empower team members, and build a resilient team equipped to tackle any challenge.

B. Examples of Leadership in Problem-Solving Scenarios

Leadership skills are particularly crucial in problem-solving scenarios, where creative, out-of-the-box thinking is required. Leaders must be able to approach problems with a clear mind, analyze the situation, and provide a solution that works for all stakeholders involved.

A good example of leadership in problem-solving is how NASA responded to the Apollo 13 crisis. When the spacecraft experienced an oxygen tank explosion, the crew needed to maneuver their way back to Earth safely. The NASA team worked tirelessly through numerous challenges, ultimately developing a solution that saved the crew’s lives.

Another example is how Airbnb’s leadership dealt with a growing concern over discrimination on their platform. They took immediate action, appointing a team of experts to address the issue and implementing policies to address the underlying problem.

C. Tips for Developing Leadership Skills in Problem-Solving

Leadership skills can be developed through practice, self-reflection, and learning from others. Here are some tips for developing leadership skills in problem-solving:

Practice active listening: Listening to different perspectives is critical in problem-solving. Actively listening to team members and stakeholders helps to gather valuable insights and build a shared understanding of the problem.

Encourage creativity: Leaders must foster an environment that promotes creativity and brainstorming. Encourage team members to approach problems from different angles, generating innovative solutions.

Focus on solutions: Rather than dwelling on the problem, leaders must remain focused on solutions. They should use their problem-solving skills to identify root causes and develop strategies that provide long-term solutions.

Lead by example: Effective leadership in problem-solving is not just about delegating tasks but leading by example. Leaders should participate in problem-solving alongside their team members, demonstrating their commitment to finding a solution.

Learn from failure: Failure is often an essential component of the problem-solving process. Leaders should focus on learning from failures, analyzing what worked and what didn’t, and adapting their approach moving forward.

Leadership skills are a cornerstone of effective problem-solving.

Time Management Skills

Effective time management skills play a critical role in successful problem-solving. Proper use of time ensures that problems are tackled comprehensively without inconveniencing other essential activities. Time management skills aid in the optimization of time usage, thereby improving productivity and bolstering overall performance.

A. Importance of Time Management Skills in Problem-Solving

In problem-solving, time is a precious commodity that cannot be wasted. Time management skills allow individuals to allocate sufficient time to different stages of the problem-solving process. Proper time allocation ensures that each stage of the problem-solving process is fully addressed, and no critical task is left incomplete. Time management helps maintain momentum in the problem-solving process, ensuring that hiccups, obstacles, or delays that may arise during the process are effectively handled. Effective time management skills also aid in decision-making, where required data and information are gathered promptly and analysed, leading to sound conclusions.

B. Examples of Problem-Solving Situations That Require Time Management Skills

Problem-solving situations requiring good time management skills are common in various industries. For instance, in tech industries, software troubleshooting and bug fixing require quick and efficient problem-solving abilities. Time management skills are crucial in such situations, where the capacity to swiftly and accurately identify a problem, evaluate potential solutions, and implement fixes directly affects the quality and performance of the software. In healthcare, emergency response situations require excellent time management abilities. In such situations, healthcare personnel must quickly and accurately assess a patient’s condition, gather their medical history, and provide proper treatment within the shortest time possible.

C. Tips for Improving Time Management Skills in Problem-Solving

To improve time management skills in problem-solving, individuals should:

i. Set Clear Priorities

Effective time management skills require individuals to set priorities based on the importance and urgency of each task. Create a to-do list and assign priorities to each task in line with the importance and urgency of each.

Eliminate Distractions

In problem-solving, distractions may hamper productivity, causing a delay in the problem-solving process. Ensure that any distractions are eliminated, and a conducive environment is set up to encourage focus and concentration.

Delegate Tasks

When possible, delegate tasks to other individuals to ensure a balanced workload. Delegation helps free up time, allowing individuals to focus on critical aspects of the problem-solving process.

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks allows individuals to recharge and refocus, leading to better productivity. Ensure that breaks are taken at appropriate intervals to avoid prolonged distractions.

Leverage Technology

Technology has numerous tools and resources that aid in time management. Take advantage of these resources to optimize and streamline the problem-solving process.

Relevant Work Experience

A. explanation of the importance of relevant work experience in problem-solving.

When it comes to problem-solving, relevant work experience can make a significant difference. Employers are always looking for candidates who have the skills and experience necessary to tackle the challenges of the job. The ability to solve problems is a key skill that employers are constantly seeking, and relevant work experience is a great way to demonstrate your ability.

Relevant work experience helps you to develop problem-solving skills that are specific to your industry or field. For example, an IT professional who has worked on complex projects will have developed skills in problem-solving that are unique to the field of technology. Similarly, a lawyer who has worked on a high-profile case will have gained experience in problem-solving that is specific to the legal profession.

In addition to developing industry-specific skills, relevant work experience can also help you to develop transferable skills that can be applied in any profession. These skills include communication, critical thinking, creativity, and strategic thinking. Employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate these skills, and relevant work experience is a great way to showcase them.

Relevant work experience also shows employers that you can handle challenges and overcome obstacles. Interviewers want to know that you have the ability to think on your feet and find solutions to problems that may arise in the workplace. By highlighting your relevant work experience, you can demonstrate to employers that you have a track record of success.

Relevant work experience is an essential component of problem-solving. It not only demonstrates your ability to solve problems in your industry or field, but it also highlights your transferable skills and ability to handle challenges. By showcasing your relevant work experience, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job and showcasing your problem-solving skills.

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25 Problem-Solving Interview Questions And Sample Answers

Elena Prokopets

Every day we face a ton of mishaps — from a glitching messenger app to a compliance update, sending your industry into chaos. Compound this with rapid technology change and shifting customer behaviors, and it becomes apparent that strong problem-solving skills are highly important in the workplace.

So much so that 60% of employees want to see evidence of problem-solving skills when evaluating candidates. In interviews, candidates will be asked problem-solving questions . 

In this post, we provide common problem-solving interview questions employers use to screen candidates (with sample answers!). But first, let’s recap the basics. 

What Are Problem-Solving Interview Questions?

Problem-solving interview questions assess critical thinking, data analysis, and decision-making abilities. Candidates face hypothetical situations or case problems to test their analytical , critical thinking , and conceptual skills . 

Nail the problem-solving questions, and you’re likely to get the role: 70% of employers consider strong critical thinking abilities as a huge indicator of job success. 

Why Would Employers Ask Problem-Solving Questions During an Interview?

Problem-solving questions are a good way to evaluate your ability to overcome work challenges. Most employers want to be sure you can resolve issues and move past bottlenecks independently.

In other words: They want to see how you apply deductive reasoning or analytical frameworks to determine the root cause of the problem and then determine the best solution for troubleshooting.

The purpose of interview questions for problem-solving may also vary depending on the role. 

  • For customer-facing roles, problem-solving questions are a great way to assess conflict management and issue-resolution skills. 
  • For management roles , they provide insights into the candidate’s strategic thinking and planning abilities. 
  • For technical roles , these help evaluate your approaches to issue troubleshooting and process optimization. 

In every case, the employer expects to see how you apply your cognitive, analytical, communication, and decision-making skills.

Popular Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions (and Answers) 

Because problem-solving assumes using a range of hard and soft skills , there are multiple types of interview questions employers may ask. To help you practice, we organized popular problem-solving interview questions into different groups. 

Situational Interview Questions

Situational interview questions ask you to describe your line of thinking and actions in a certain setting. Most ‘mock’ situations will be directly related to your role. For example, as a social media marketing manager you may get asked “What would you do if you noticed a typo in an update 10 hours after publishing when people have already been commenting on it? 

The best approach to situational problem-solving questions is using the STAR interview method . First, describe the situation. Next, talk about the task (problem) you’ve had. Then explain what actions you took. Finally, conclude with an outcome (result) gained. 

Here are several sample problem-solving questions with answers for this category. 

A customer asks for a product, but it’s out of stock. They’re unhappy. How would you respond? 

For customer-facing roles, you may be probed with a problem-solving interview question presenting some sort of a customer issue. Such questions are also common in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries among others.

Your goal is to showcase your stellar customer service and conflict resolution skills. 

Sample answer: 

First, I’d ask the customer if they’d be open to some alternatives — and provide a range of similar products we currently have in stock. If neither works for them, I’d look up the restock information and offer to put them on a notification list. Or, if they are open to that — suggest placing a backorder. If they are still not happy, I’d politely ask them to wait for a moment and approach the manager about the possibility of issuing a discount for them or offering free expedited shipping once the product is back in stock.

You are last to leave the office, but can’t find your keys. No one else is around. What would you do?

This is another sample situational interview question, prompting you to talk about your approaches to responding to unexpected circumstances. The other party wants to understand whether you’d be following the protocol or acting erratic (or unprofessional).

Here’s how you should answer this question:

Well, I’d first re-check if I haven’t misplaced my keys and search all my belongings. If I truly don’t have them on me, I can’t leave the office without properly securing it, right? So I’d try calling my manager to see if they could help — or another employee, whom I know to leave close by. I believe one of them would be able to come and help me out or direct me towards the right HR person to contact about this.

You’ve hatched a detailed plan. But there were some last-minute changes from the senior stakeholder, affecting your timeline. How would you respond?

Not all projects go as planned. The purpose of this question is to test your adaptability skills. The interviewer also wants to understand whether you’ll push back on the change or try to implement it even if that would result in extra work for you. 

Sample answer:

 This happened quite a few times in my last job, where the CEO liked to propose last-moment tweaks to investor reports. At first, I just went along and adjusted the copy and design myself before publishing. After the second time, I started sending an investor report draft to the CEO 7 days before the publishing date and set a hard deadline for her edits. This helped fix the issue. 

You and your team are stuck in a traffic jam. You are running late for an important client meeting. What would you do?

That’s another common situation, that plenty of people can relate to. The interviewer wants to see a demo of your communication and on-the-sport decision-making skills. 

Assuming I’d be still late if I walk or use public transport, I’d do this: Phone in the client with my apologies. Then propose to either order lunch/refreshments for them while they’re waiting or propose to start the meeting on video conferencing from the car if that’s possible. 

Scenario-Based Interview Questions 

Scenario-based interview questions present you with a specific problem the interviewer asks you to solve.  Rather than assessing your immediate response, problem-solving scenarios aim to test your and ability to strategize.  In most cases, there’s no right or wrong answer to such questions. Your goal is to demonstrate your thought process. 

Below are several examples of problem-solving scenarios for interviews. 

You have two vendors: One has lower prices and another proposes faster shipping. Which one would you pick and why? 

Many interviewers like to pose such questions to evaluate a candidate’s decision-making skills. The interviewer wants to understand how you access different options when making operational calls. Give them a walkthrough.

I’d check two metrics first — planned deadlines and current budgets. If a later delivery doesn’t affect the manufacturing schedule, I’d go with a cheaper vendor. If the materials are time-sensitive, I’d approach the CFO regarding the matter and explain why paying a higher supply price is more favorable than risking manufacturing delays (and bearing direct and indirect costs of that). To make my case, I’d use ERP data and a business intelligence app to model different scenarios.

You need to kick off the project but don’t have full data. What are your next steps? 

For most companies, the current economic realities are rather volatile — from ongoing supply chain disruptions to rapid changes in consumer preferences. Thus, operational decisions have to be taken fast, often with incomplete data. 

By posing this question, the interviewer likely wants to assess your general business acumen skills, as well as approaches to strategic planning. 

Sample answer

As a marketing manager, I fully understand that good data may not always be available. In such cases, I try to generate my own data and test assumptions. First, I try to split-test different types of creative and run them by a sample target audience group. Based on the response rates (e.g. average click-through rates), I then select the main creative to use in the campaign.

A senior colleague asks for your recommendation on a new policy. How would you prepare it?

A good answer to this problem-solving interview question will include a list of steps you’d follow and the type of resources you’d use to make an informed decision. Explain how you usually collect data, make assessments, and synthesize findings to present them to others. 

I’d kick things off with an impact assessment to understand the context, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed change. I’d model different scenarios using a custom script on Power BI that I’ve made. Once I have the hard numbers (e.g., impact on revenue, efficiency, cost savings), I’d analyze the cultural impact of policy change. That usually involves conversations with other stakeholders and department heads. I’d incorporate their feedback and provide summarized findings to the colleague. 

You’re asked to identify cost-saving opportunities for a company. As you review the financial statements, you notice that operating expenses have increased significantly over the past quarter. How would you approach this? 

This is an example of a precise scenario-based question you may get for a financial analyst or accounting role . Other positions also receive similar questions, based around a difficult on-the-job situation. Your goal is to demonstrate your approach to issue resolution. 

I would first analyze all the groups of expenses to determine what drives the increase. If the company is spending more to grow, I’d calculate the ROI of that spending to justify it or, on the contrary — challenge it. If the cost inflation is due to excessive spending on low-value initiatives, I’d suggest several optimization strategies.

Behavioral Problem-Solving Interview Questions 

Behavioral problem-solving questions aim to learn more about your personality. They encourage you to provide examples of how you’ve acted in the past and showcase your general attitudes towards different challenging situations.

These provide room to demonstrate your self-management skills and mental resilience. So be sure to prepare some problem-solving examples for interviews beforehand. 

Tell me about the time you’ve faced a major challenge at work

This question can be more context-specific. For example, the interviewer may prompt you to talk about meeting an unrealistic deadline, resolving a professional mishap, or dealing with another type of out-of-the-ordinary work situation. In every case, you must not just describe the problem, but communicate what you’ve done to resolve it. 

My sales team spent 6+ months preparing for a major demo for this manufacturing client. It was an important strategic deal for Acme Inc. Two days before the presentation, the main Account Manager fell sick with COVID-19 and couldn’t do the meeting. Since I worked closely with him, I volunteered to moderate the presentation and facilitate the discussion. We’ve notified the client team about the changes and I’ve invited their management to a quick lunch a day ahead to meet up and “break the ice”. Then helped negotiate. We’ve successfully closed this deal.

What’s your standard approach to resolving blockers at work? 

The answer to this problem-solving interview question will be somewhat different for regular employees and managers. As a regular employee, you should focus your reply on your organizational skills . As a manager, you should lean more towards your administrative and leadership skills . 

Below is a sample answer from a manager’s perspective: 

I’d describe my management style as a facilitator. As a UX Design Lead, I spend a lot of time prioritizing our backlog in line with the company-wide product roadmap and collecting regular input from other teams. Based on it, I set different levels of priorities for design tasks and map dependencies between them. Then I communicate the main priorities in this Sprint to the design team every 2-3 months. Weekly, I go through the work backlog to analyze progress and reach out to individual members on status reports. If the person is stuck, I try to figure out the root cause for that first, then get back to them with different suggestions on how to move forward.

What does “being resourceful” mean for you? 

Employers want autonomous go-getters, who know how to accomplish tasks, given the existing constraints. The hiring manager wants to understand how you make the max out of the available resources. Illustrate this with a quick example.

I treat constraints as an opportunity to be creative and innovate with frugality. I maintain an inventory of all creative assets available to me and like recycling content for different channels. For example, one podcast episode = 1 more blog post, 5 social media updates, and a collection of quotes the team can then use for other marketing assets without bothering the SME again. 

Could you exemplify your “self-sufficiency” abilities? How do you ensure high personal performance? 

This interview question prompts you to talk about your approach to staying motivated and methodical in your work. The interviewer wants to understand how you solve problems on your own and ensure that temporary setbacks don’t affect your performance.

I’ve been working remotely for three years now and my current employer prioritizes async communication, so I’m used to solving issues on my own. When I’m dealing with a coding problem, I usually head to Stackflow exchange to see if there are existing threads, plus search for reference architecture of similar solutions. There’s so much information available these days, so it’s easy to find answers to even the most niche problems. 

Problem-Solving Questions for Teamwork

A lot of issues arise due to misunderstanding and interpersonal dynamics. The employer wants to understand that you can diffuse tensions, handle arguments, and prevent conflicts professionally. So be prepared to answer some problem-solving interview questions around teamwork.

Your colleague proposes an alternative approach. The team can’t decide between your idea and theirs. What would you do? 

Here the interviewer wants to see how you reach consensus. Few teams like managers with their “my way or the highway” attitude. Your goal is to show that you’re not making decisions with your ego. 

I’d once again analyze both approaches holistically together with the team, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each. I always encourage everyone to probe my ideas, even though I’m a Senior Architect. Then ask again to contribute further thoughts and vote for the best option.

How do you usually handle workplace conflict between employees of the same level? 

A variation of such interview questions is common for managerial roles. After all, much of your job involves team-building. A good answer will include an example from your experience, demonstrating your conflict resolution strategies. 

I would have informal conversations with both at first to understand the source of animosity. In my last role, I had a UX designer and front-end developer constantly clash due to differences in communication styles. The developer lacked active listening skills and the designer wasn’t best at expressing their thoughts verbally. I’ve suggested they start a shared handover documentation file, where both documented the requirements from each side and leave helpful notes on design animation or tech constraints/compromises. Matters got better after this.

One of your team members is underperforming. This negatively impacts the group dynamic. How would you address this issue?

According to Gallup, 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined by the manager. Hence, employers want to ensure that you can identify and effectively address performance issues. The best answer to this interview question will include an example from your past work. 

A couple of months ago, I noticed that one of our senior developer’s velocity fell by almost 20%. Her code commits were also getting rejected by our CI/CD pipeline at the unit testing stage more often, slowing up the release cycle. Sarah was going through some family issues as learned in a 1:1. I suggested she take a 7-day PTO and also reminded her that we have free mental counseling available. She signed on for a couple of sessions and returned to her best in two weeks.

A stakeholder comments on the quality issues in your project. But these are not your team’s fault. How would you address their concerns while maintaining high team morale? 

Lack of appreciation and recognition of efforts from senior stakeholders can weigh heavily on the teams’ morale and, by proxy, performance. The purpose of this question is to test how you can advocate for your team. Your answer must demonstrate high emotional intelligence and professionalism in managing expectations. 

I would have a private conversation with the person to better understand the source of their concerns about quality. Then explain to them what part of work my team is responsible for and how this relates to the quality issues origination. I would then reassure them that I would speak to the manager, responsible for that line of work myself, and we’ll jointly work on optimizing this problem.

Problem-Solving Exercises 

Some interviewers also like to throw in a couple of weird interview questions , aimed at challenging your on-the-stop problem-solving skills. For example, Jeff Bezos once asked an interviewee to try counting the number of windows in Seattle. While the question may sound absurd, it gives the interviewer a good idea of how you structure your reasoning and employ logical thinking skills. 

In other cases, an interview may include several problem-solving exercises — cognitive puzzles or quiz-style questions you need to complete within a certain time. Some of these may require you to do some arithmetics to arrive at a precise answer. Others are just meant to test your logical reasoning abilities. 

Examples of problem-solving exercises for an interview: 

  • Can you count how many tennis balls would fit into this room? 
  • As a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?
  • You have 1000 bottles of wine, and one of them is poisoned. You also have ten rats to test which bottles are poisoned. What’s the fastest way to find a poisoned bottle?
  • You have 3 critical production tasks, requiring the same specialized equipment, but you can only afford to rent one at a time. How will you prioritize and schedule tasks to optimize resources? 
  • You have 3 containers with 20 balls. You have enough room to sort all balls of the same color into separate containers. How will you make sure that each container only has balls of the same time and that no two balls of the same type end up in different containers? 

Case Studies 

Case studies (or case problems) are context-rich, mock business scenarios, designed to test your problem-solving skills. They are common for roles in the consulting and financial sectors. However, many IT companies have also adopted them into their interviewing process.

Generally, you have 15 minutes to review the case study and ask supporting questions from the interviewer. Then another 15 to 30 minutes to prepare your answer. These tasks demand good business acumen — an understanding of the typical business goals and commercial awareness of the market and operating model. 

Your goal is to demonstrate that you understand the key issues and have a structured approach to finding the solution. You need to demonstrate which factors you’ve considered and their implication for the business. Then provide high-level recommendations, based on the data you have. 

Sample case studies for an interview: 

  • If you were a competitor entering a new regional market, how would you convince customers to select our product? 
  • A sports brand wants to launch an online employee advocacy program, where employees act as micro-brand ambassadors — showcase the goods on their social media and provide customer advisory. How would you recommend them to structure this initiative? 
  • A French wine producer wants to enter the Australian market. Prepare a summary, explaining why the market may be a good choice for them and which products may have the highest chance of success. 
  • A friend asks for your advice: They want to launch a new vegan DTC cosmetics brand. What type of go-to-market strategy would you recommend?

You can also find more sample case study interviews to practice at websites from big consulting firms like Bain , BCG , or Deloitte .   

How To Approach Problem-Solving Interview Questions?

When presented with any type of a problem-solving interview question your main goal is to narrate how you’ll use your analytics, situational analysis, and critical-thinking skills to best navigate the matter. You should always clearly communicate what you plan to do and why. Then highlight the outcome you’d aim to achieve. 

Demonstrate structured thinking and a logical progression in your response:

  • Reiterate the problem and ask clarifying questions if necessary. 
  • Explain your first action. Mention why you’ve chosen it over the others. 
  • Be precise with your arguments. State what data you’ve used for decision-making.
  • Explain your next steps and/or alternative course of action if the first option fails to work. 
  • Summarize the outcome you’ve achieved or expect to achieve as a result.  

Remember: the interviewer doesn’t expect you to come up with a highly elaborate multi-step roadmap. They just want to hear how you’ve solved similar issues in the past and how you might react to new challenges!

Elena Prokopets

Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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what can you do, if you l were fired from your job.? can you leave it off your resume? what do you mention in the interview about leaving your job, or having an employment gap?

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12 problem solving interview questions and answers

Hire top problem solvers with less hassle.

sample questionnaire for problem solving

Every job requires problem solving skills , whether you’re a cashier working out how to process a coupon with a broken scanner or a busy executive dealing with supply chain issues.

 he problem is that it’s difficult to demonstrate a candidate’s ability to problem-solve in an interview – or for employers and hiring managers to spot it .

Finding the truth requires the right variety of problem-solving questions asked in interviews. Unlike problem-solving questions people encounter in school, problem-solving questions for adults revolve around real-life situations that demonstrate innovative solutions.

In this article, we cover 12 problem-solving interview questions and answers to prepare for your next interview, whichever side of the table you’re on.

Table of contents

12 problem-solving interview questions and answers, enhance problem solving interviews with testgorilla, combine problem solving interview questions with targeted skills testing with testgorilla , problem solving interview questions faqs.

It’s hard to prepare problem-solving questions for adults without some solid examples. 

Let’s go through 12 essential job interview questions about problem-solving, including some problem-solving sample answers and explanations for how each one shows off the candidate’s problem-solving skills .

1. Is there an example of a time you had a deadline you weren’t able to meet? What happened? How did you handle it?

Missed deadlines are a fact of life, even for the best employees. What matters is how they learn from it.

This question poses an opportunity for candidates to show: 

Authenticity in recounting their mistakes

Self-awareness about what went wrong – for example, did they display optimism bias , planning in too little time for a project? 

How they learned from this past experience to improve their time management skills  

Here’s an example of this in action:

Sample answer:

Early in my career, I faced a tight deadline for [project name] when a key team member unexpectedly left the company. I had not planned enough time into the schedule for things to go wrong.

I immediately took action by informing my supervisor and key stakeholders about the potential delay and offering a revised timeline based on a realistic assessment. Then, I worked with my team to redistribute responsibilities.

Through these efforts, we delivered the project with minimal delays and maintained client satisfaction. 

I learned the importance of anticipating potential risks, building contingency plans, and fostering open communication with my team , and I’ve hit all my deadlines since then.

2. We work with many clients with multiple needs and aim to provide excellent service to them all. How would you prioritize each client’s needs?

This question tests customer service skills by laying out the candidate’s thought process on:

What information they look for when assessing a customer’s needs

What internal problem-solving processes and resources they consider when brainstorming solutions 

How they prioritize and communicate their decision

I would start by actively listening and analyzing data to understand each client's urgency, critical deadlines, and potential impact on revenue and retention.

I would then rank each need by the most urgent and shortest deadlines. I would work on those with the highest importance and immediacy first.

I would also allocate resources strategically by balancing this with our team's bandwidth and skill sets. Transparency is important while I communicate the prioritization process and explore collaborative solutions when necessary. 

3. How would you describe your immediate reaction to unexpected challenges or roadblocks?

Different personality types respond differently under pressure, and answers to this question help you gauge whether the candidate would be a good fit for your workplace culture. 

For example, while some organizations prefer people who can deliver quick, on-the-spot solutions, others prefer those who take their time to strategize their next steps and prioritize teamwork over finding effective solutions alone.

I remain calm, gathering information and systematically analyzing options. Clear communication and adaptable execution guide me through unexpected challenges, turning them into opportunities for growth that demonstrate resilience and work ownership.

The immediate instinctual solution to challenging situations often makes them worse. It’s important to take the time to discover the best solution with your team to ensure forward progress, not impede it.


4. Describe a time when you had to change your strategy at the last minute. How did you handle this difficult situation?

Problem solving skills are especially important in high-pressure situations when there’s little time to choose a course of action.

This question enables candidates to show:

Their ability to manage stress

Their decision-making process

How they maintained a professional image

The creative solution they came up with and its success

Sample answer: 

During one of my client presentations, the demo unexpectedly malfunctioned moments before going live.

Instead of panicking, I calmly assessed the situation and reassured the clients. Next, I used my knowledge of the product's functionalities to deliver a compelling, descriptive narrative without the demo. 

Finally, I collaborated and communicated with my team to find alternative means for the clients to try the product for themselves at a later time. They were excited, so the outcome was a successful presentation and a secured deal. 

5. Can you think of a previous experience where you saw an opportunity in a potential problem? What did you do? What was the outcome?

If an organization prides itself on innovation or if the role in question is creative, candidates must be able to spot ways to use obstacles to their advantage .

This question gives interviewees a chance to demonstrate how they use their analytical skills to look for ways to turn a bad situation around rather than simply mitigate it.

Due to the seasonal nature of our work, my team encountered a yearly “slow period” where revenue, engagement, and productivity dropped. Upper management was on the verge of issuing mass layoffs to transition to hiring seasonal employees instead.

Rather than letting my team get laid off, I talked to upper management and took the opportunity to organize planning, training, and team-building activities to boost engagement and productivity in preparation for the busy season.

Our employee satisfaction scores increased, and when busier weeks resumed, we increased revenue year-over-year. 

6. Describe the biggest work-related problem you have experienced. How did you deal with it?

Answering this question reveals:

What candidates consider big problems at work

How they prioritize and delegate tasks

How successful their efforts are

Employers can then evaluate how much pressure candidates can handle and whether they’d be a good fit for the specific role. 

I faced a huge challenge when I had to launch a new marketing campaign within a shortened time frame. 

My problem-solving approach involved prioritizing my tasks based on urgency and impact, delegating effectively, and focusing on critical activities. 

I also explored alternative options, such as repurposing existing assets and collaborating with freelancers to mitigate delays and stay within budget.

My efforts and resourcefulness paid off. We launched the campaign on time and within budget, exceeding everyone's expectations.

7. Tell me about a time you had to explain a complex technical concept to someone with no prior knowledge.

In technical roles, employees require soft skills such as strong workplace communication skills to explain their decisions to stakeholders.

This question gives them a chance to demonstrate simplification, audience awareness, and teaching ability.

In a previous role, I often broke down concepts by splitting them into simple steps and using relatable analogies. 

For instance, I was asked in the middle of a sprint by a senior leader to build a new chart in our business intelligence platform. They thought I could do this in an hour, but in reality, I would have to build a new data model, which takes several days. 

I explained that it’s like trying to order an off-menu dish at a restaurant. You think they already have all the ingredients in the kitchen, but they would actually have to order new ingredients from out of state and design a new recipe, which takes time.

8. How do you deal with problems when you don’t have access to all the necessary information? Can you describe a time when this occurred? 

The most difficult problems to solve are the ones without clear variables. This is often required in higher-up roles managing teams or departments.

This question lets candidates show common problem-solving strategies, such as investigating the causes of an issue, prioritizing tasks, and creating agile responses.

I consider potential outcomes and prepare for multiple scenarios so I can adjust as I go.

For instance, I was managing my boss’s schedule when she was traveling for a conference, and I didn’t know her availability for meetings beyond a rough agenda. 

I planned for the most likely scenario and prepared alternatives, for example, clearing time the following week for any meetings that she couldn’t attend so I could immediately reschedule canceled meetings and minimize disruption.

9. Tell me about a time you worked outside your comfort zone to solve a problem.

Asking this question helps gauge a candidate's flexibility, initiative, willingness to learn, and commitment to self-improvement in a work environment.

I was tasked with learning a new technology to deliver more in-depth user metrics, which is more technical than I’m used to as a social media manager. 

I actively sought out resources, enrolled in online courses, and practiced to gain proficiency. By using whatever time I had available to its fullest, I was able to develop the competency to execute more complex tasks and even adjust my career to a more technical path.


10. What was the most stressful situation you faced at work? How did you handle it?

This is a behavioral interview question that lets candidates show off their: 


Analytical approach



Ability to learn from challenges

For best results, use it in conjunction with objective measurements like critical thinking skills tests. 

Try TestGorilla today to improve your hiring process

Register for our free live demo and see how our tests can bring verified problem-solving skills into your organization.

sample questionnaire for problem solving

I had to launch a complex software project with a tight deadline and several unexpected technical glitches. 

I handled it by prioritizing ruthlessly, creating a detailed task list, identifying critical activities, and delegating non-essential tasks to free up my time. I also communicated transparently with my team and stakeholders. 

As a result, we launched the project on time, and I ultimately strengthened my leadership skills .

11. What is your process for evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of a solution?

Particularly when undergoing the interview process for leadership roles, candidates must show they know how to break down a problem and weigh options based on best practices.

When faced with multiple solutions to a problem, I take the four-step approach to problem-solving suggested by Daniel Markovitz :

I examine the data available to me

I frame the problem based on observable facts and allow for more than one solution

I think backward from the problem to ensure I understand the causes

When examining solutions, I ask “why,” ensuring each solution addresses the root causes 

I rank each solution based on these factors, using a matrix if necessary, and take action based on which hits the most marks.

12. Have you ever had to alter your plans when solving a complex problem? 

It’s important that candidates don’t commit so hard to one solution to a problem that they ignore opportunities to adapt and achieve a better result.

This question gives candidates a chance to demonstrate their adaptability, troubleshooting skills , and ability to recognize sunk costs.

I was managing the development of a project management tool when the client told me they urgently needed a new feature.

My coworkers told me this would be impossible in the given workflow timeframe because the feature would take several weeks to code and test. The client said this was unacceptable and threatened to cancel their contract. 

Instead of panicking, I discussed with the client what they wanted the feature to accomplish. They explained that they wanted to use an old project as a template for a new one. I realized this capability existed in our current software when we performed stress tests during early development.

I relayed this back to the dev team, who were able to quickly adjust the internal testing feature to the client’s needs rather than building something from scratch.

With skills-based hiring , you ensure that everyone you bring into the hiring process already has a base level of problem-solving abilities.

This is something resumes cannot do: Research shows that pre-hire work experience is a poor predictor of job performance and retention.

By contrast, 70% of employers agree that skills-based hiring is more effective than resumes .

Skills testing also benefits candidates because it is less prone to bias. 

In one study, the number of women hired into senior roles increased by nearly 70% when skills-based hiring methods were used.

Use talent assessments like our Problem solving skills test to create your shortlist with questions like this:

An example question from TestGorilla's Problem solving test

You should also test for other skills like:

Analytical skills and attention to detail  

Communication and active listening skills

Critical thinking

Combining different types of assessments and interviews gives you a more holistic view of a candidate's strengths, weaknesses, and overall fit for the role.

For instance, critical thinking is an important supporting skill for problem-solving because it helps employees evaluate any information they gather and make logical conclusions when deciding on the best course of action. 

Here’s an example of a question from our Critical Thinking test:

sample questionnaire for problem solving

You can then use this information to inform your interview approach, such as asking candidates how they plan to improve their skills in their lower-scoring areas

This helps you improve your workforce: Deloitte research shows that skills-based organizations are more than twice as likely to innovate than traditional ones.

Find candidates with the skills you need with TestGorilla

Waste no time finding the right skills with TestGorilla. Sign up for a free account and see how our tests can create an automatic shortlist of the most skilled candidates.

sample questionnaire for problem solving

In this article, we’ve explored how to ask and answer problem-solving questions for interviews. 

We’ve also included specific examples of answers to problem-solving questions, covering everything from handling stress to explaining complex concepts .

To ensure you don’t waste any of your dynamite interview questions for problem solving on unqualified candidates, incorporate problem solving skills tests into your hiring .

Take a product tour of TestGorilla today, or sign up for a demo to see our tests in action.

Then, try them for yourself by signing up for a Free forever plan !

Still unsure about writing or answering interview questions on problem solving? Here are the answers to common queries about problem-solving questions in interviews. 

Why do employers look for problem solving skills?

Employers look for problem solving skills because, in every role, employees encounter obstacles they must overcome to keep their teams and customers happy . The better your problem-solving skills, the better you can maintain and even improve your performance after setbacks.

What is an example of problem solving in the workplace?

An example of problem-solving in the workplace is when a project manager has to manage the fallout from missing an important deadline. When an unexpected problem arises, they have to find a way to solve it and the knock-on problems it causes – for instance, managing clients’ expectations and feedback.

What are good examples of problem solving interviews?

Some good examples of problem solving interview questions are: 

Have you ever had a deadline you weren’t able to meet? What happened? How did you handle it?

We work with many clients with multiple needs and aim to provide excellent service to all of them. How would you prioritize each client’s needs?

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6 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers

By Editorial Team on November 22, 2023 — 9 minutes to read

As you walk into a problem-solving interview, it’s normal to feel nervous about what to expect. These interviews are aimed at assessing how well you can analyze a problem, develop an approach, and arrive at a solution. Employers want to see how you think, break down complex situations into manageable parts, and use creativity to find answers. To help you navigate these interviews, let’s go over some common types of problem-solving questions and answers.

Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers

“can you describe a difficult problem you faced at work and how you solved it”.

When answering this question, choose a specific problem that you faced at work. Make sure to provide a clear description of the issue, the steps you took to address it, and the outcome. Demonstrating that you’re capable of breaking down problems and taking a logical, methodical approach to finding a solution is key.

Example: “At my previous job, our team was struggling with meeting sales targets. I conducted a thorough analysis of our sales data and identified trends in customer behavior. Based on the findings, I recommended a new marketing strategy, which led to a significant increase in sales.”

“Share a time when you had to think creatively to overcome a challenge.”

This question is all about highlighting your ability to think outside the box. Choose an instance where you had to develop a creative solution to solve a problem and demonstrate how your innovative thinking helped achieve a positive outcome.

Example: “When I was working as a project manager, our team was facing budget constraints that threatened the project’s timeline. I came up with an idea to streamline processes and reduce expenses by utilizing free online collaboration tools, which ultimately saved resources and allowed the project to stay on track.”

“How do you approach handling tight deadlines and multiple tasks?”

Employers want to know that you can handle pressure and prioritize your workload effectively. To answer this question, describe specific strategies you’ve used to juggle multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines, such as setting daily goals, using time management tools, or delegating tasks when appropriate.

Example: “When facing multiple tasks and tight deadlines, I start by making a detailed to-do list and assigning each task a priority level. I then tackle the most time-sensitive and essential tasks first and work my way down the list. If necessary, I’ll reach out to my colleagues for assistance or delegate some tasks to ensure everything gets completed on time.”

“Tell me about a time when your team faced a conflict, and how did you help resolve it?”

This question is aimed at understanding your conflict resolution skills and ability to work well in a team. Describe a specific instance where your team faced a conflict and explain the steps you took to address the issue, making sure to highlight your communication and collaboration skills.

Example: “When I was leading a team project, two team members had a disagreement regarding the project’s direction. I organized a meeting where everyone could express their opinions and concerns. Together, we were able to come to a consensus and adjust the project plan accordingly, leading to a successful outcome.”

“What steps do you take to identify and prioritize issues when problems arise?”

Showcase your problem-solving process by providing a clear description of the steps you take to identify and prioritize issues. Emphasize your ability to analyze situations, stay organized, and make well-informed decisions.

Example: “When problems arise, I first gather information to get a clear understanding of the situation. Next, I assess the severity and urgency of each issue and prioritize them based on their impact on the project or business objective. Once the priorities are established, I create an action plan to address the most pressing issues first and continue working down the list.”

“Describe an instance where you used your analytical skills to find a solution.”

Employers value analytical thinking as it helps assess complex situations and make sound decisions. Choose a specific example where your analytical skills were put to the test and explain how your analysis led to a successful outcome.

Example: “While working as a financial analyst, I spotted discrepancies in a client’s financial reports. By conducting a thorough examination of the data and identifying irregularities in their expenses, I helped the client uncover a case of fraudulent activity. This led to the implementation of stricter internal controls, preventing future fraud occurrences.”

Related: How to Answer 9 Common Situational Interview Questions

How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Fact-finding questions.

These questions focus on your ability to collect and analyze information, as well as make deductions based on your findings. Employers want to see that you can dig deep and uncover relevant points before arriving at a conclusion. A couple examples of fact-finding questions include:

  • How would you investigate an issue with falling sales numbers?
  • Can you walk me through how you would analyze the performance of a new product?

To answer fact-finding questions, pay attention to details, use concrete examples, and demonstrate a structured approach to the problem at hand.

Logic and Reasoning Questions

Logic and reasoning questions assess your ability to think critically and objectively to identify the underlying cause of a problem. Employers want to see if you can apply logic to make informed decisions based on sound reasoning. Some examples of logic and reasoning questions include:

  • If you were given a problem with two seemingly correct solutions, how would you determine the best course of action?
  • How do you decide on the correct priority when faced with various tasks or issues?

When answering logic and reasoning questions, think out loud and reveal your thought process. Incorporate critical thinking techniques and showcase your ability to weigh the pros and cons of different solutions.

Creative Thinking Questions

Creative thinking questions evaluate your ability to come up with original ideas or unconventional approaches to solving problems. Your potential employer wants to see if you can think outside the box and innovate when faced with new situations. Some examples of creative thinking questions may be:

  • Describe a situation where you had to solve a problem using an unexpected approach. How did you develop this solution?
  • Can you provide an example of when you collaborated on a project that required unique ideas to meet a deadline?

To answer creative thinking questions, highlight your ability to brainstorm and be resourceful. Show that you can adapt and find new solutions to unexpected challenges.

Issue Resolution Questions

Issue resolution questions focus on your ability to resolve conflicts and reach a compromise while working with others. Employers want to ensure that you can effectively communicate, negotiate, and work with people in difficult situations. A few examples of issue resolution questions are:

  • Describe a conflict that occurred within a team, and explain how you helped resolve it.
  • How do you handle circumstances when two team members have differing opinions on a project?

In responding to issue resolution questions, emphasize your active listening skills, diplomacy, and ability to empathize with others’ perspectives. Show that you can find a resolution that benefits all parties involved, while maintaining a positive and productive working environment.

Crafting Effective Responses

Understanding the problem.

To craft an effective response to a problem-solving interview question, first, make sure you understand the problem. Listen carefully and take notes if necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or additional information to ensure you have a complete understanding of the problem. This will show the interviewer that you are thorough and detail-oriented.

Creating a Plan

Next, break down the problem into smaller, manageable steps. This will help you structure your response and demonstrate your ability to think logically. Outline the steps you would take to solve the problem and prioritize them according to importance or urgency.

For example:

  • Identify the root cause : Determine the primary issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Gather necessary information : Collect data and consult with relevant parties to get a complete understanding of the situation.
  • Develop possible solutions : Brainstorm different approaches to tackle the problem and list the pros and cons of each solution.

Implementing Solutions

Once you have a plan in place, be prepared to discuss how you would implement your chosen solution. This may include elements such as identifying resources and stakeholders, setting a timeline for completion, and assigning tasks to relevant team members. Use specific examples to illustrate your points, and be prepared to explain your rationale for each decision.

For instance, you might say, “I would first gather a team of experts in the field to analyze the data and come up with recommendations. We would create and assign tasks to the team members with deadlines to ensure timely progress. Regular check-ins and progress updates would be scheduled to keep everyone on track and address any issues that arise.”

Reviewing Outcomes

After discussing how you would implement your solution, describe how you would evaluate its effectiveness. This might involve tracking and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), gathering feedback from stakeholders, or conducting post-implementation reviews to identify lessons learned.

Make your evaluation process concrete by providing examples like these:

  • Measuring KPIs : “We would track metrics such as customer satisfaction and retention rates to determine the effectiveness of our solution.”
  • Stakeholder feedback : “We would collect feedback from team members and stakeholders to better understand the impact of our solution on the larger organization.”
  • Post-implementation reviews : “We would conduct periodic reviews to identify areas where we can improve and optimize our solution.”

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Too much detail.

Sometimes, you might go into too much detail when answering problem-solving interview questions. It’s important to strike a balance between being thorough and being concise. To avoid this mistake, practice summarizing your experience and the steps you took in solving problems. Use bullet points to help you stay organized and focused on the key points.

  • Identify the key elements of the problem
  • Outline your thought process and steps briefly
  • Don’t get lost in unrelated details

Not Enough Detail

On the other hand, not providing enough detail in your answers can leave the interviewer with a lack of understanding about your problem-solving skills. To avoid this, make sure you’re clear about the problem, the steps you took to address it, and the outcomes you achieved. Back up your answers with examples from your past experiences.

  • Explain the problem and why it was significant
  • Share specific steps you took to solve the problem
  • Discuss the outcomes and any lessons learned

Failing to Relate to Job Role

Another common mistake is failing to connect your answers to the job role you’re interviewing for. Always keep the job requirements and responsibilities in mind when talking about your problem-solving skills. Show how your experiences and approach to problem-solving will directly benefit their organization in the position you’re interviewing for.

  • Understand the job requirements and responsibilities
  • Relate your answers to the specific context of the job
  • Explain how your problem-solving skills will directly benefit the organization

Misunderstanding the Question

It can be easy to miss the point of a question or not understand what the interviewer is asking. Misunderstanding the question can lead to an irrelevant answer. To prevent this, take a moment to process the question and, if necessary, ask the interviewer to clarify. This shows that you’re attentive and genuinely interested in giving a thoughtful answer.

  • Listen carefully to the question and take a moment to process it
  • If needed, ask the interviewer for clarification
  • Respond with a focused and relevant answer
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How to Answer Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Why are they assessing your problem-solving skills? No business runs smoothly all the time, and employers need to know they can rely on their team when problems arise. Interviewers are looking for candidates who can solve complex problems, analyze data efficiently, and handle high-pressure situations. Whether you’re good at solving technical issues or predicting when problems will arise, prepare yourself with a few scenarios to highlight what your strengths are.

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How to answer problem solving skills interview questions

What are the most common problem-solving questions ?

Information to keep in mind when answering these questions :

  • Interviewers will hit you with problems related to the industry you’re applying to work in, so research relevant scenarios and solutions. 
  • They will analyze the process you use. 
  • Coming up with inventive ways to solve problems will show what makes you unique ly fit for this role.
  • A positive attitude in dealing with problems is key. The examples you give should show an eagerness to find solutions.
  • Can you work well as part of a team when solving problems? And are you able to ask for help if you need it?

Have you ever solved a problem without the advice of your supervisor? If so, what was the result? 

Here, your interviewer wants to see if you can step up and address issues without waiting for instructions. What approach did you take? Are you able to make decisions independently? A self-motivated candidate is ideal in a climate where working remotely has become the norm. Choose an example that lets you go into details about your problem-solving skills.

Sample answer: “With COVID forcing us to be homebound, there were times I wasn’t able to reach my manager for input while a client was waiting for a solution. In one case, the client insisted that their invoice had not been processed correctly. I contacted our accounting department for a full list of transactions which showed that the rep from the client’s company had signed off on a purchase that the client was unaware of. The client was apologetic, and we kept their business.”

Describe a time when you were able to resolve an issue before it became urgent.

Start your answer with the steps you took to anticipate obstacles you might encounter with your project. How did you mitigate those risks? So, if a problem arose, you can show that you were prepared for it and had a Plan B in place. If it was something unexpected, did you act immediately, or did you take the time to analyze the problem before deciding on the right action? Depending on the situation, either answer may be correct.

Sample answer: As an executive assistant, I was tasked with copying and assembling a new contract with a procurement service provider. As I studied the document, I noticed that one of the numbers in the contract had a decimal point omitted. I brought the error to the attention of my boss, and we managed to produce amended contracts before they were signed by the parties involved.”

Has there been an instance when you used your skills to manage a crisis?

Can you keep your cool under pressure? That is what your interviewer is trying to establish here. The logical process you worked through to solve the problem should clarify how you evaluated the situation and acted decisively, leading to a successful outcome. Also, mention whether you reviewed the case to avoid similar crises in the future.

Sample answer: “A passenger complained of dizziness and nausea during a flight. While I was getting the appropriate medication, the passenger collapsed. I assessed the situation using my CPR training and determined that the passenger was still breathing but unconscious. After turning her on her side to help her breathe, I administered 100% oxygen and made her comfortable. I then called a doctor on board, who later determined that the passenger was anemic.” 

When should you attempt to fix a situation on your own, and when should you ask for assistance?

This is an opportunity to demonstrate your initiative, independent thinking, and ability to work as a team. Hiring managers love an applicant who can meet the general challenges of the job without constant supervision. However, an employee should know when to seek help before the problem affects other factors.

Sample answer: “I’m an advocate of the 15-minute rule. I will take at least 15 minutes to try and solve the problem on my own. In that time, I will identify the problem, decide what the ideal result would be, and work out tasks to reach my goal. I’d rule out any options that might not work and consider the consequences of the options I’m left with. If I achieve the desired outcome after applying the best solutions, I will review the process I used. If I’m not able to come up with a workable solution in those 15 minutes, I will consult with a colleague or supervisor.”

Give an example of a time when obstacles prevented you from performing your job and how you adapted.

You can expect to encounter challenges in your job. Depending on how you work around them, your interviewers may find some insights into your strengths and weaknesses . Be honest about how the situation played out, but make sure you choose one with a positive outcome.

Sample answer: “Having been in the accounting industry for many years, it is sometimes hard to keep up with technology that’s meant to streamline our processes. There’s a sense of distrust and insecurity when new technology is used. I had to overcome my own bias of sticking with the old methods as the company evolved and using the new systems became mandatory. I approached my team leader and asked for additional training to build my confidence in adopting the new protocols.”

Ready for your interview? 

If you’re presented with a problem to solve, take the time to analyze the information provided and ask questions if necessary. When discussing examples, make sure you focus on the solution rather than the problem, as this can be interpreted as pessimistic. And, above all, let your positive character traits shine in your prepared interview answers.

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  • Interview Questions

Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Problem-solving interview questions are designed to test a candidate's ability to identify obstacles, potential issues, or key opportunities, and then implement effective solutions accordingly. Our collection of problem-solving interview questions includes explanations and red flags to look out for during an interview.

Problem-Solving Interview Questions — PDF Download:

Download our list of problem-solving interview questions in PDF format and use them in your next interview.

Problem-Solving Questions to Ask in an Interview:

1. what was your biggest work-related problem, and how did you resolve it.

This is a great introductory question since it allows the candidate to describe their problem-solving process in as much detail as they like. Top candidates will explain why the problem occurred, how they resolved it, and why they chose that method.

Red flags: the candidate cannot think of anything specific or describes a problem that was resolved quickly and easily.

2. Think of a time when a coworker made a mistake that affected your work. How did you handle the situation?

Not only does this question analyze the candidate's problem-solving abilities, but also their teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills. Look for candidates who demonstrated a noncombative, collaborative approach to solving the problem.

Red flags: the candidate did not take any steps to resolve the situation or engaged with their coworker unconstructively.

3. What is your troubleshooting process?

This question gives the candidate a chance to explain their general approach to troubleshooting. It should highlight how the candidate usually processes and acts on information.

Red flags: the candidate demonstrates limited insight into their troubleshooting process or describes ineffective problem-solving techniques.

4. If you were given two very urgent tasks by different members of the management team at roughly the same time, how would you decide which task to tackle first?

This question tests the candidate's ability to communicate effectively. In this instance, candidates should approach both managers about the other's request. If no clear guidance is given, the candidate should provide a reasonable time estimate of when each task would be completed.

Red flag: the candidate rushes to complete both tasks in the order they were given.

5. How do you decide when a different problem-solving approach is needed?

Not all problems can be solved in the same way. This question reveals whether the candidate can analyze a problem fully before applying an appropriate solution, remain agile during the problem-solving process, and reflect on systems once they have been implemented.

Red flag: the candidate will only try a different approach if the outcome is a failure the first time.

6. Tell me about a time when you predicted a problem related to staffing or structural changes in your department. What did you do to resolve the issue?

This question tests the candidate's ability to identify a concern and bring it to the attention of management before it becomes a problem. Look for candidates who speak up, propose reasonable alternatives, and assist with changes.

Red flags: the candidate has never identified any issues in the workplace, or they didn't want to get involved even though they knew there would be a problem.

7. What do you do when you cannot seem to find an effective solution to a problem?

Everyone gets stuck sometimes. This question reveals how the candidate finds new ideas on how to proceed.

Red flag: the candidate is unable to be resourceful and gives up.

8. What improvements have you made to your workplace in the last year?

Candidates with great problem-solving abilities should be able to identify areas that can be improved, and either take steps to implement those changes or initiate the process.

Red flag: the candidate has not contributed to any improvements in the workplace.

9. Provide an example of a time when you solved a problem without the input of management. What was the result?

This question highlights the candidate's ability to make decisions and solve problems by themselves.

Red flag: the candidate did not inform management about a major decision that could affect the business.

10. How do you organize your daily workload to ensure that all your tasks are complete?

Reveals whether the candidate has an effective system that allows for setbacks and problem-solving in the workplace.

Red flags: the candidate has never thought of implementing a system to plan their work or cater for delays or they are unable to execute such a strategy.

11. How do you motivate yourself to achieve your goals when you have minimal supervision?

Self-motivation is a major part of problem-solving if issues arise. This question simply reveals the candidate's methods for staying motivated.

Red flags: the candidate has never been in a situation where they needed to work without supervision or they cannot think of creative and effective ways to self-motivate.

12. What do you do when asked to resolve an urgent issue without being given all the information?

Thoroughness and forethought are key components of problem-solving, even when under time constraints. Identify whether the candidate tries to solve the problem immediately or asks for more information.

Red flag: the candidate tries to resolve the issue without all the pertinent details and gets stuck.

13. Can you describe a time when you thought outside of the box to solve a problem in either your personal or professional life?

Evaluates whether the candidate can devise innovative ideas to solve problems.

Red flag: the candidate describes a solution that you would not describe as out-of-the-box thinking.

14. Describe a time when you disagreed with a decision by management. What happened?

Reveals whether the candidate can speak up when they see a problem in the workplace.

Red flag: even if management still went ahead with their original decision, candidates should feel comfortable pointing out problems in the workplace. A red flag would be if the candidate noticed an issue but chose to ignore it.

15. Tell me about a time you tried to solve a problem but ended up making it worse. What happened?

This is a great question to learn more about the candidate's personality and problem-solving skills. It tests honesty and whether the candidate was able to incorporate what they learned into future decisions.

Red flags: the candidate claims they have never made a problem worse, or they've never thought about how they could learn from their mistakes.

Additional Resources:

  • Common interview questions .
  • Situational interview questions .
  • Cultural fit interview questions .
  • Stress interview questions .
  • Emotional intelligence interview questions .
  • Illegal interview questions .
  • Behavioral interview questions .
  • Personality interview questions .

What are problem-solving interview questions?

Problem-solving interview questions are those that test a candidate's ability to identify potential issues, obstacles, or opportunities for improvement, and then implement solutions accordingly.

Why do hiring managers ask problem-solving interview questions?

Problem-solving interview questions help determine how a candidate approaches problems in their professional and personal lives. Problems — however small — are bound to occur in the workplace, and hiring managers want to be sure that candidates are equipped to address them successfully.

What are some examples of problem-solving interview questions?

  • What is your troubleshooting process?
  • How do you decide when a different problem-solving approach is needed?
  • What was your biggest work-related problem, and how did you resolve it?
  • What do you do when you cannot seem to find an effective solution to a problem?
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a decision by management. What happened?

What is the best way to answer a problem-solving question in an interview?

Think about what the interviewer is trying to learn and direct your response accordingly. Provide a comprehensive answer and be sure to explain your reasoning.

Related Articles:

50 most common interview questions, how to interview candidates, star method, pre-screening interviews, how an open interview works.

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Problem-Solving Interview Questions And Answers (With Examples)

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Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. Problem-solving questions are used to focus on a candidates past experience with managing conflicts and overcoming obstacles in the workplace. When answering these questions, be sure to make your answer relevant to the position that you are applying to and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to provide examples from previous experiences.

Are you in the process of searching for a new job ? If so, you might be getting ready to meet with a hiring manager or a recruiter for a job interview. And if you’re like the majority of job candidates, this stage of the job search process is probably making you feel a fair bit of trepidation.

And no wonder! The interview is a completely necessary step for any job search, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking to meet with a prospective employer and answer questions about your personality , skills, and professional background.

Key Takeaways:

Being able to solve problems is a skill that almost all job positions need.

Problem-solving questions assess a candidate’s ability to think on their feet, handle pressure, and find creative solutions to complex problems.

Make sure your answer to a problem-solving question tells a story of you as an effective team player.

Problem Solving Interview Questions And Answers (With Examples)

What Is a Problem-Solving Interview Question?

How to answer a problem-solving interview question, eight examples of common problem-solving interview questions and answers, interviewing successfully, curveball questions, problem-solving faq.

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A problem-solving interview question is a question that focuses on a candidate’s past experience with managing conflicts and overcoming unexpected obstacles in the workplace.

Problem-solving questions can come up in many different forms. As a general rule, however, they will be aimed at uncovering your ability to handle stress and uncertainty in a wide variety of contexts.

When you’re answering problem-solving interview questions, there are a few important tips to keep in mind:

Make your answers relevant to the position that you’re applying to. Always bear in mind that the fundamental goal of any interview question is to provide a hiring manager with a glimpse inside the mind of a candidate.

By asking you a problem-solving question, your interviewer is trying to understand whether or not you’re the type of person that could be relied upon under pressure or during a crisis. Every role, furthermore, comes with its own particular type of pressure.

Be honest about your strengths ( and weaknesses ). Hiring managers tend to be quite good at reading people. Therefore, if you give them a bogus response, they’re very likely to see through that – and to subsequently consider you to be untrustworthy.

Of course, it can be tempting at the moment to fabricate certain details in your response in the attempt to make yourself seem like a better candidate. But inventing details – however small – tends to backfire .

Tell stories that will portray you as a team player. Hiring managers and employers are always on the lookout for job candidates who will collaborate and communicate well amongst a broader team.

Be sure to provide examples of moments in which you took charge. Leadership skills are another key quality that hiring managers and employers seek out in job candidates. And being presented with a problem-solving question, as it turns out, is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your own leadership skills.

Now that we understand the basic principles of problem-solving interview questions and how to respond to them, we’re finally ready to break down some real-world examples. So without any further preamble, here are eight examples of common problem-solving interview questions (as well as some examples of how you might answer them):

Can you tell me about a time when you encountered an unexpected challenge in the workplace? How did you go about dealing with it?

Explanation: With this question , your interviewer will be attempting to get a sense of how well you’re able to adapt to unexpected difficulties. The critical thing to remember when you’re answering this question – as we briefly discussed above – is to recall an incident that will be directly relevant to the role and the organization that you’re applying to.

Here’s an example of a high-quality response to this question:

“I remember a particular day at my previous job when an important deadline was pushed up at the very last minute. As the project manager , it was my responsibility to implement the necessary steps that would enable us to meet this new and truncated deadline. “Many of my peers began to hang their heads, resigning themselves to their belief that there was no hope to meet the new deadline. But I’ve always prided myself on my ability to adapt and thrive within a dynamic and quick-paced work environment – and that’s precisely the personal skill set that I channeled on this occasion. In the end, I reorganized my team’s priorities so that we were able to accommodate the new deadline.”

How would you say you typically respond to problems in general, and in the workplace in particular?

Explanation: This question is primarily designed to gauge a candidate’s ability (or lack thereof) to remain cool, calm, and collected under pressure. The ideal response to this question, in other words, will include a brief personal anecdote that illustrates your level-headedness and your ability to make rational, clear decisions during times of uncertainty.

“I would say that one of the primary qualities that sets me apart from the crowd of other candidates is my ability to remain calm and centered when conditions in the workplace become chaotic. “Looking back, I think that I first began to cultivate this ability during my tenure as a product manager working with a major Silicon Valley start-up. That was a particularly stressful period, but it was also quite instructive – I learned a great deal about staying positive, focused, and productive after an unexpected challenge presented itself. “These days, when I’m confronted by an unexpected problem – whether it’s in my personal life or in my professional life – I immediately channel the conflict management skills that I’ve been honing throughout the duration of my career. This helps a great deal, and my skills in this regard are only continuing to improve.”

Can you tell me about a time when you’ve had to settle a workplace dispute between yourself and a manager or colleague?

Explanation: Always keep in mind that one of the fundamental goals of any problem-solving question is to help a hiring manager gain a clearer sense of a candidate’s ability to work with others.

This question, in particular, is designed to give your interviewer a clearer sense of how well you’re able to communicate and compromise with your colleagues. With that in mind, you should be sure to answer this question in a way that will display a willingness to be fair, empathetic, and respectful to your teammates.

“I recall an incident in my last job in which one of my colleagues felt that I had not provided him with adequate resources to enable him to be successful in a particular project. I was acting as team leader for that particular project, and so it was my responsibility to ensure that everyone in my team was equipped for success. Unfortunately, I had to learn through the proverbial grapevine that this particular colleague bore some ill will toward me. I’ve never been one to participate in idle gossip, and so I decided to speak with this person so that we could begin to find a solution and address his grievances. So I crafted an email to him asking him if he would be interested in joining me for coffee the following day. He accepted the invitation, and during our coffee break, we were able to talk at length about the damage that he felt had been done to him. We devised a mutually agreeable solution on the spot. From then on, we had no significant problems between us.”

Are there any steps that you’ll regularly take during the early stages of a new project to ensure that you’ll be able to manage unexpected problems that occur down the road?

Explanation: This question, above all, is designed to test your ability to plan ahead and mitigate risk. These are both essential qualities that employers typically seek out in job candidates, particularly those who are being vetted for a management or leadership role.

When you’re answering this question, it’s important to emphasize your ability to look ahead towards the future and anticipate potential risks. As with the previous examples that we’ve already examined, the best way to communicate this ability is to provide your interviewer with a concrete example from your previous work history.

“I live my life – and I conduct my work – according to a single, incredibly important motto: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I’m a firm believer, in other words, of the primacy of careful planning. Without it, projects are almost always doomed to fail. “In my previous role as a marketing content writer with a major software company, I strived to apply this motto to my work every single day. “Here’s an example: About a year ago, I was responsible for overseeing and launching a new content strategy aimed at driving up consumer engagement. From the very outset, I understood that that particular project could be run off the rails if we did not take into account a considerable number of factors. “I won’t bore you with all of the nitty-gritty details, but the point is that this was a particularly sensitive project that required diligent and careful risk assessment. “Having realized that, my colleagues and I devised a comprehensive and flexible strategy for managing many risks that we envisioned would be awaiting us down the road. That initial step – looking ahead towards the future and mapping out the terrain of potential hazards – proved to be an essential measure for the success of the project.”

Do you consider your problem-solving capabilities to be above average?

Explanation: Hiring managers are always on the lookout for job candidates that stand out from the crowd. It’s even better when they can find a job candidate who knows that they stand out and who expresses that knowledge by being confident in their abilities.

At the same time, it’s never in a job candidate’s best interests to come across as egotistical or arrogant. When you’re responding to a question like this (that is, a question that’s focused on your ability to assess your own talents), it’s important to do your best to come across as self-assured but not pompous.

“Yes, all things considered, I would say that I have a talent for risk assessment, problem-solving, and risk mitigation. “That said, I can’t claim complete ownership over these abilities. In most cases, my demonstrated success in managing risk and solving problems in the workplace can be attributed at least as much to my team members as it can to me. For me to be able to be a successful problem-solver, it helps to be surrounded by colleagues whom I can trust.”

How would you describe your typical immediate reaction to unexpected challenges? Do you prefer to jump straight into the problem-solving process, or do you more commonly take some time to analyze and assess the problem before you dive in?

Explanation: This question is aimed at gauging your patience levels. This one can be a bit tricky because employers will sometimes prefer different responses – it all depends on the type of position and employer you’re applying for.

If you’re applying for a role in a quick-paced working environment that demands swift action , it will benefit you to describe your problem-solving strategy as unflinching and immediate.

If, on the other hand, the role you’re applying to does not demand such immediate action, it will probably be better to describe yourself as a more removed and relaxed problem solver.

But as always, you should never lie to your employer. Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle of these two types of problem solvers and will thereby have no difficulty painting ourselves honestly as one or the other.

However, if you’re definitely one type or the other, then you should describe yourself as such. This will make it much more likely that you’ll end up in a position that will be maximally rewarding both for you and for your employer.

“In most cases, my response to an unexpected problem will entirely depend on the nature of the problem at hand. If it demands immediate action, then I’ll dive right in without hesitation. “If, however, I determine that it would be more beneficial to take a step back and analyze the nature of the problem before we begin to meddle with it, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. “Generally speaking, I would say that I prefer the latter approach – that is, to take a step back and think things through before I begin to try to find a solution. In my experience, this makes it much easier for everyone involved to arrive at a practical and sustainable solution. “That said, I’m also perfectly capable of jumping straight into a problem if it demands immediate attention.”

Can you tell us about a time in which you had to explain a technically complicated subject to a client or customer? How did you approach that process, and how did it turn out?

Explanation: Strong communication skills are essential in the modern workplace. That means that employers tend to seek out job candidates that communicate well with their colleagues and individuals who have varying professional backgrounds and skill sets, including clients, customers, and third-party professionals.

“I recall an incident from many years ago – while I was working as a software engineer for a prominent robotics company – in which I found myself in the position of having to describe incredibly complex engineering details to a client. “This client had no prior experience in software engineering or artificial intelligence, so I had to relate this esoteric information more or less in layman terms. “Thankfully, I was able to employ some useful metaphors and analogies to communicate the information in a manner that this client could appreciate and understand. We went on to establish a successful collaborative partnership that flourished for four years.”

How would you rate your ability to work and succeed without direct supervision from your managers?

Explanation: Employers always tend to place a high value on job candidates who are self-motivated and can maintain high levels of productivity without constant supervision.

This is especially true now that the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly made it necessary for so many millions of employers to transition to a remote workforce model. This question is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to stay focused and motivated while working remotely or without supervision.

“I’ve always considered myself – and my resume and references will support this – to be an exceptionally self-motivated individual, even when I’m working from home. “In fact, like many employees, I often find that my productivity levels tend to increase when I’m working remotely. I strive to set a positive example for my colleagues, even when we’re not all working under the same roof.”

Generally speaking, the best strategy for success in interviewing for a new job is doing your research beforehand. That means that you should be intimately familiar with the role, department, and company that you’re applying to before you step into the room (or log on to the Zoom meeting ) on the day of your interview.

When you preemptively take the time to carefully research the organization as a whole – and the responsibilities of the job opportunity in particular – you’ll minimize your chances of being caught off guard by an unexpectedly difficult question .

Still, there is only so much background information that you can uncover about an organization and a role before a job interview. No matter how carefully you prepare and how much background research you conduct, there are very likely going to be curveball questions during your job interview that you can’t predict.

In fact, many employers prefer to ask curveball questions (in addition to more run of the mill job interview questions) because they provide an insightful glimpse into a job candidate’s analytical thinking skills – not just their ability to memorize and recite answers to more common interview questions .

To that end, many hiring managers will ask job candidates to answer one or more problem-solving questions during a typical job interview. In contrast to traditional interview questions (such as: “Why do you think that you would be a good fit for this role?”

Or: “What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement up to the current moment?”), problem-solving questions are specifically designed to assess a job candidate’s ability to think on their feet, handle real pressure, and find creative solutions to complex problems.

They’re also commonly referred to as analytical skills interview questions because they’re designed to gauge a candidate’s ability to make analytical decisions in real-time.

What are problem-solving skills?

Problem-solving skills include skills like research, communication, and decision making. Problem-solving skills allow for you to identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently. Research skills allow for you to identify the problem.

Communication skills allow for you to collaborate with others to come up with a plan to solve the problem. Decision making skills allow you to choose the right solution to the problem.

Why do interviewers ask problem-solving interview questions?

Interviewers ask problem-solving interview questions to see how candidate will approach and solve difficult situations. Interviewers want to see how you handle stress and uncertainty before hiring you for a position. Problem-solving is an important part of the everyday workday so they need to be sure you are capable of solving problems.

How do you solve a problem effectively?

To solve problems effectively you should first break the problem down and try different approaches. Breaking the problem up into different parts will help you have a better understanding and help you decide what your next step is going to be.

Once you see the different parts of the problem, trying different approaches to solve the problem can help you solve it faster. This will also help you determine the appropriate tools you need to solve the problem.

U.S. Department of Labor – Interview Tips

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Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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The Best Interview Questions for Assessing Problem Solving Skills


No matter the domain, industry, or seniority level, problem solving skills are an essential tool for any employee. With carefully-crafted interview questions, you can get a solid understanding of how candidates will respond to real-world challenges they're likely to face at your organization. Zero in on candidates' problem-solving prowess with our curated list of the best interview questions.

Unlocking a Candidate's Problem Solving Abilities

By probing a candidate's problem solving skills, you'll get a more thorough understanding of their approach, thought process, and skill in solving challenges and having impact in the workplace. With problem solving interview questions, the objective is to get a better sense for how a candidate approaches:

  • Identifying and analyzing problems
  • Creating action plans
  • Implementing solutions
  • Evaluating results
  • Taking learnings forward for the future

In job interviews, you'll want to dig into specific examples of candidates' problem solving process in real-world scenarios, and test how they would deal with hypothetical problems that might arise in your own company.

Problem Solving Interview Questions

  • Describe a time when you solved a problem without input from someone more senior to you.
  • How do you decide when to handle a problem independently or seek help?
  • Tell me about a time when you preemptively addressed a complex problem before it escalated.
  • If faced with two urgent tasks simultaneously, how would you prioritize them?
  • Describe a time when you developed an innovative solution with limited resources or information.
  • Describe a time when you had to develop a solution for a problem when you had limited resources or information.
  • Tell me about a situation where you came up with a creative solution to a problem.
  • Walk me through an experience of tackling a daunting project.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to change your strategy last minute.
  • Describe a time when you faced significant obstacles to solving a problem.
  • Can you give me examples of metrics you use to measure the success of your problem-solving efforts?
  • How do you decide when a problem is "solved"?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you've solved a problem that required making tradeoffs between short and long-term outcomes?

General problem solving & decision making skills interview questions

Effective problem-solving goes hand in hand with sound decision-making. Identifying candidates who can independently tackle issues and make well-reasoned decisions is crucial.

Here are some interview questions to explore how candidates approach their decision making process in problem solving:

What to look for in responses:.

These interview questions will help assess how job candidates use critical thinking and initiative to tackle problems. Do you they wait for others to tell them when to fix something, or do they proactively find opportunities to make improvements? Look for answers demonstrating an analytical approach to the prioritization and execution of problem solving. Make sure you dig into the candidate's thought process behind how they assess tradeoffs and think about the impact of potential solutions.

Interview questions for assessing creativity in problem solving

Few problems can be solved without some degree of creativity. To get a sense for these skills in a potential candidate, you can pose problem-solving questions that dig into the their past experiences with delivering original and out-of-the box solutions.

To gauge a candidate's creative problem-solving skills, consider these job interview questions:

These questions uncover the candidate’s ability to think outside the box. If they struggle to come up with detailed answers, it's likely a sign they rely on tried and tested ways of doing things rather than searching for innovative solutions. Look for answers that showcase originality, inventive use of resources, and the ability to deliver practical solutions under constraints.

As when testing most competencies, it's important to hear real-world examples of problem solving rather than generic answers that don't reveal anything about how they approached complex situations in previous roles. As always, look for answers that use the STAR (situation-task-action-result) method to effectively demonstrate how the candidate uses creativity to solve problems.

Problem solving interview questions for adaptability and resourcefulness

The ability to adapt and be resourceful is essential in fast-paced work environments and is a key component of strong problem-solving capabilities.

Here are some interview questions you can use to assess these skills:

Responses to these questions should highlight the candidate’s flexibility and resourcefulness as demonstrated in previous experiences. Effective answers typically include examples of problem solving by adjusting strategies, on-their-feet thinking, and maintaining composure under pressure. You'll want to get a clear understanding of whether a candidate can thrive in challenging situations. Do they break down in stressful situations or do they maintain composure and find a way forward? Do you they know when to ask for help to maximize chances of success? These are the types of questions you'll want to address in your probing.

Problem solving interview questions that test results-orientation

Execution is one thing, but strong problem solving skills must also include a focus on results, measurability, and long-term impact.

Here are some interview questions to assess how a candidate thinks about the results of their problem solving:

You'll want to see that a candidate doesn't have a "box ticking" mentality, where they want to close out a problem just to check it off their list. Do they think critically about how to define and measure success, or do they take a binary problem solving approach? A candidate's problem-solving skills are only as good as their ability to understand the quality of their solutions and the tradeoffs of their impact.

Carefully crafted problem-solving questions can play a crucial role in assessing a candidate’s ability to navigate difficult situations and devise effective solutions. We hope this guidance on problem solving interviews helps you more thoroughly understand a candidate's approach.

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December 15, 2022

The Problem-Solving Interview: 16 Questions for Better Hires

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We’ve all been there. You hire the wrong candidate, resulting in wasted time, money and energy. You’ve learned the true cost of a bad hire the hard way. And you want to make sure your future interview process is as goof-proof as possible.

That’s where problem-solving interviews can change the game.

Though traditional interviews haven’t gone by the wayside, more companies are taking a practical approach when it comes to vetting candidates based on actual workplace scenarios.

Problem-solving interviews use questions that evaluate how candidates deal with difficult situations they may actually face in a given role. With scenario-based and behavioral questions for all of your problem-solving needs, consider this your totally bookmarkable resource to keep coming back to when prepping for candidate interviews.

Examples of problem-solving interview questions:

  • Tell me about a project where you had to manage a cross-functional team.
  • Describe a situation where you succeeded in motivating team performance.
  • What is the most creative idea or project you've generated in your current role?
  • In what ways have you encouraged your work team to be more innovative?
  • Have you ever improved project workflows based on your analysis?
  • Have you ever had a deadline you weren't able to meet? What happened?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to explain something complex to a frustrated client.
  • Talk about a time when you worked under extremely loose supervision. How did you handle that?

Help your hiring team get more out of your candidate interviews while still keeping things human for applicants. Breezy is the candidate-friendly applicant tracking system that includes custom interview guides so that every interviewer on your team knows exactly what to ask.

What's the buzz about problem-solving interviews?

Problem-solving interview questions occasionally go by other names. 

From behavioral interview questions, scenario-based interview questions, or simply ‘second job interview questions’ — if you’re like most employers, you probably already have an unofficial term for the part of the hiring process where you really lean in and learn how a candidate might act in a given situation.

Whatever you call it, a problem-solving interview is essentially:

A behavioral interview asking questions that provide insight into how a candidate has dealt with challenging workplace issues in the past . The candidate’s answers often reveal their actual level of experience and potential to handle similar situations in the future.

To get a real flavor for what this type of interview will entail, and the types of problems and problem-solving skills we’re considering, we’ve compiled a go-to list of top examples of problem-solving interview questions. Feel free to adjust these questions, the problem-solving abilities and the potential problems these questions address to suit your specific role and employer brand .

15 examples of problem-solving interview questions

Each interviewing situation is unique. Questions for an entry-level position obviously won't get you very far with an executive-level candidate . Similarly the questions you ask for a technical role like software engineer are going to be far different from those you’d ask of a sales candidate.

Before you launch into any problem-solving interview, take time to match your questions to your open role. And remember, the more structured your interview process , the easier it'll be to make the right call.

Here are three of the most common problem-solving interview scenarios, plus our top questions for each.

Leadership roles

Question #1: Describe the most difficult team you've had to lead? What made it challenging? How did you go about overcoming the issues?

Why it works: Asking a candidate to rate the difficulty of working with others is a great way to see whether they throw their team under the bus or focus more on the problem/solution aspect of the question. A strong candidate will map out how they overcame the situation and prevented it from becoming a long-term issue within the company.

Question #2: What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement in the workplace? What were the practical steps that got you there?

Why it works: Some leadership skills come naturally — but most require careful planning and the ability to take inspired action. A candidate who doesn’t just regurgitate their resume but gives actual insight into how they achieve the impossible is someone who's willing to think about process and the importance of why they're in a leadership position in the first place.

Question #3: Tell me about a project where you had to manage a cross-functional team to achieve a specific goal or outcome. How did you adapt your leadership style to achieve this objective?

Why it works: The ability to adapt is crucial for strong leaders. No single leadership style matches every work situation. Exceptional leaders know how to tune into their teams and adapt accordingly.

Question #4: Describe a situation where you succeeded in motivating your team to improve their performance. What actions were the most effective?

Why it works: Performance management is a tough nut to crack . You're looking for an executive candidate who has the right mix of diplomacy and energy to get the best work out of every employee.

Question #5: Describe a leadership role you've undertaken outside of work. Why did you choose to commit to this role? How did you benefit from it?

Why it works: Great leaders don’t leave their leadership hats in the office. Knowing your candidate takes on leadership roles in their community — be it volunteering, coaching or running a professional group — helps you get a better understanding of their leadership characteristics both within and outside of the office.

Creative roles

Question #1: What is the most creative idea or project you've generated in your current role? How was it received?

Why it works: Creativity can mean something completely different based on the role and organization — but a true creative will have a unique approach to problem-solving even if they aren’t interviewing for the role of Art Director. A candidate’s ability to take criticism will also shine through in this question.

Question #2: In what ways have you encouraged your team to be more creative and innovative?

Why it works: A truly creative person will help others think outside the box. How your candidate answers this question will give you insight into their teamwork skills and help clue you into how they apply their creativity at the strategic level.

Question #3: Every creative needs an outlet. What creative work do you like to do in your own time?

Why it works: Do those creative juices flow into other areas of life? If your creative candidate lights up when you ask about their hobbies and work outside the office, you know that same energy will flood into the workplace too.

Question #4: What tech tools do you use daily?

Why it works: Creatives tend to love tech and knowing how they keep their tech skills sharp gives you a glimpse into what strategies they'll bring to the table to help keep your company on the cutting edge.

Question #5: What do you think of our creative materials?

Why it works: If your candidate is truly invested in your brand, they probably did their homework. The right person will be eager to offer insight into your marketing, branding or other creative projects. Someone who shows up with their A-game and isn’t afraid to deliver their very own 'like it, love it, leave it' feedback is a keeper.

Technical roles

Question #1: Have you ever improved a project workflow based on your analysis? If so, how did you do this?

Why it works: If there's one thing every great techie should have, it's laser-precise attention to detail. You want a candidate who takes a proactive approach to optimizing workflows and doesn’t hang back hoping for someone else to step in and make things more efficient. 

Question #2: Have you ever had a deadline you weren't able to meet? What happened? How did you handle it?

Why it works: In a fast-paced tech environment, deadlines can get pushed back due to things beyond your candidate’s control. If they own up to this and demonstrate that they know how to stay cool under pressure, it’s a good sign they can handle the heat.

Question #3: When you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. How do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?

Why it works: Time management skills are crucial in technical roles. A candidate who's not only able to deliver the coding and programming goods but can also manage a tight schedule and full plate of internal and external client requests is a true unicorn.

Question #4: Give an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this delicate situation?

Why it works: Technical workers usually have their own jargon, but it’s important for your candidate to be able to convey their work to the everyday client or team member. If they can’t explain what they do in simple terms, this could be a red flag for any role with a client-facing or cross-departmental component.

Question #5: Talk about a time you worked under extremely loose supervision. How did you handle that?

Why it works: Many tech employees work remotely or with flex schedules. It’s important for your candidate to be a self-starter. Look for specific insights about the tactics and methods they use to manage their own schedule, meet deadlines and deliver on project expectations.

Questions #6 : What resources do you follow to stay current with changes in technology? 

Why it works: Technical roles require candidates to stay current. It’s important to ask the candidate how they keep up with an. Because when you’re hiring for roles like SEO , IT coordinator or software engineer , they need to think outside the box (and into the future).

Red flags to look out for in your problem-solving interviews 

While problem-solving interview questions’ answers can help best-fit candidates truly shine, they can also cast a harsh light on people who aren’t fit for the job. 

Here are some red flags you should look out for, from possibly ok-ish to definitely not the right fit.

Vague (or nonexistent) answers 🚩

If the interviewee can’t remember a time they thought outside of the box or were challenged in the workplace or handled a stressful situation, it might mean they steer clear of tough situations and difficult decisions. So if they offer up a super vague answer with little to no specifics, try to ask follow-up questions to get some insight into their mentality.

Over-the-top uneasiness 🚩🚩

Problem-solving questions are designed to make candidates think critically about their work style, and being put on the spot like that is bound to be a little uncomfortable. But if candidates are so stressed they can’t give you a straight answer, it’s probably a sign that they don’t deal with pressure well.

Scripted responses 🚩🚩🚩

Candidates who give superficial responses are more likely to choose the easy way out instead of thinking critically about the best way to handle a scenario. Run-of-the-mill answers also show a lack of creativity. Go for candidates who analyze the situation and really dig into the issue at hand to come up with a more thorough answer.

Problem-oriented mindset 🚩🚩🚩🚩

The name says it all: problem-solving interview questions are about solving the problem, not dwelling on the difficulties. So if a candidate answering a problem-solving question seems too hung up on the issue at hand rather than how they rose above and dealt with it, they might not be the culture add you’re looking for.

Tips to ask the right problem-solving interview questions

A problem-solving interview is only as good as the questions you ask. So if you want to identify results-oriented candidates and analytical problem-solvers, here’s how to ask the right questions .

Use hypothetical scenarios with real-world applications

Don’t waste your time on unrealistic scenarios and improbable outcomes. Ask hard-hitting questions with real-life solutions.

Illuminate the candidate’s thought process

Ask questions that give insight into a candidate’s thought process. Pay special attention to how candidates approach a scenario, working through the problem step-by-step and arriving at a clear (and effective) solution. Oh, and keep an eye out for innovative perspectives!

Gauge team spirit

The best solutions are often collaborative ones. Ask questions about a situation that required a team effort, and pay special attention to how they characterize their colleagues and the collective decision-making process. You want candidates who are comfortable asking for help and have a knack for teamwork.

Know what you can (and can’t) ask

Some interview questions are awkward, others are straight-up illegal. 

We know you're not out to violate anyone's rights, but even the most well-meaning hiring managers can end up asking lousy interview questions. How lousy, you ask?

These ones top our list of major no-nos:

“Tell me about your biggest weakness.” 

Oh, you mean like the time I accidentally disconnected the server and left thousands of customers without service for hours? Get real. No one's going to reveal their Kryptonite during an interview. This question generates the most canned answers imaginable ranging from “I’m a workaholic,” to “I over-deliver and exceed expectations.” 🙄

“If a song described you, what would it be.”

Avoid this and any other overly abstract question asking a candidate to describe themselves in bizarre metaphors. Be direct. Relate the questions to the position and interviewee, not some over the top hypothetical about whether someone sees themself as a shark or a unicorn.

“Tell me about your [sexual orientation, relationship status, ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation].”

One word: creepy. Oh, and: illegal. (Okay, that's two words but you get the idea...) 

Fact is, any question that doesn't jive with the EEOC not only violates the candidate’s rights, it may also have you searching for a new career. Just don't go there.

Avoid the ‘gotchyas’ and keep your interview q’s focused on solving real problems

At the end of the day, no single thread of interview questions will work as a one-size-fits-all. 

Human hiring requires human thinking. By analyzing and hand-selecting thoughtful questions, you can ensure a consistent interview flow with all candidates while avoiding generic replies and those dreaded awkward silences. 

Just make sure they're interview questions that both you and your candidate can feel good about.

With Breezy’s modern recruitment platform, you can access over 400 free interview guides , schedule interviews with one click, and deliver a first-rate hiring experience candidates love.

Try it yourself totally free.

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Top 17 Problem-Solving Interview Questions for Freshers & Experienced Professionals

Problem Solving Interview Questions

Problem-solving skills are essential for success in almost any job position. Employers are in search of individuals who possess the ability to think critically, tackle obstacles and situations systematically, and develop efficient resolutions. In this guide, you will get different problem-solving interview questions and answers and valuable tips to equip you to prepare for your upcoming interview.

Table of Contents

What are Problem-Solving Interview Questions?

Problem-solving interview questions are questions that focus on a candidate’s aptitude for collecting information, evaluating an issue, considering its advantages and disadvantages, and arriving at a sound conclusion. Employers use these questions to understand and analyze one’s critical thinking abilities and ability to make informed decisions.

These questions are designed to assess a candidate’s critical thinking and decision-making skills. You can develop the right attitude and approach to solving a problem by checking out this complete guide on what are problem-solving skills .

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Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers for Freshers

Below are the common problem-solving interview questions you might likely come across as a fresher. You can also check out this interview preparation course to equip yourself with common interview etiquette .

Q1. When faced with a problem, what is your action plan?

Answer: When I encounter a problem, my first step is to explore how others have successfully addressed similar challenges. This research provides me with diverse solutions, enabling me to choose the most fitting approach for both myself and the organization. Subsequently, I collaborate with my managers and colleagues, ensuring clear communication as we implement the selected solution.

Q2. What factors do you implement to weigh the pros and cons of a decision?

Answer: When evaluating decisions, I consider various factors, such as the potential impact the decision has on both short-term and long-term goals, assess the risks involved, seek input from relevant team members, and how relevant the decision aligns with the organization’s goals and values. With this comprehensive approach, anyone can make a well-informed decision.

Q3. How do you know when to seek assistance or tackle an issue on your own?

Answer: I evaluate the complexity and urgency of the issue. If it’s something I can handle within a stipulated time frame, I will address it on my own. However, for more complex or time-sensitive issues, I promptly seek help from colleagues or supervisors to ensure a quick and effective resolution.

Q4. Describe a situation when you identified an issue early on and resolved it before it got out of hand?

Answer: In my previous position as an intern, I discovered inaccuracies in the data during a project. Without hesitation, I took it upon myself to thoroughly examine and resolve these discrepancies to ensure precise outcomes. This valuable experience taught me the importance of attention to detail and enhanced my commitment to quality work.

Q5. Describe a situation when you had a task but lacked the abilities needed to finish it?

Answer: In my entry-level role, I successfully managed a sudden increase in customer inquiries caused by a website glitch. I worked with the team to address the issue, prioritized urgent cases, communicated transparently with customers, and provided temporary solutions until a permanent fix was implemented. This situation demonstrated my proficiency in managing high-pressure situations and delivering exceptional service to customers.

Q6. Describe a situation where you handled a crisis well?

Answer: During my internship as a client relations specialist, we encountered an unforeseen rise in customer discontentment due to concerns about the quality of our products. Working closely with relevant departments, I identified the root cause and devised a plan of action. By prioritizing urgent cases and maintaining open communication with affected customers while providing prompt updates, we effectively restored their satisfaction and prevented any further damage to our brand reputation.

Q7. Give an example of a challenging circumstance you experienced at work that called for quick thought and decisive action?

Answer: In a previous internship role, I faced a challenging project with strict deadlines and limited resources. To overcome this obstacle, I employed strategic resource allocation techniques, prioritized tasks effectively, and worked closely with my team members. Through careful planning and delegating responsibilities efficiently, not only did we meet clients’ expectations, but we surpassed the client’s expectations by delivering the completed project within the given deadline.

Q8. How would you respond to a disappointed and angry client?

Answer: When faced with an unhappy client, my focus is to remain calm and positively interact with them to prevent the situation from getting worse. I start by engaging in dialogue to comprehend the reasons for their discontentment, gathering all the essential information needed for effective problem-solving.  Once I have a clear understanding of the issue at hand, I reassure the customer that we are dedicated to resolving it quickly. By providing frequent updates throughout the resolution process, we strive to keep our clients informed and build trust in our efforts toward finding a satisfactory solution.

Q9. What metrics do you usually use to monitor your strategies? 

Answer: I use key performance indicators (KPIs) particular to the objectives of the project or work at hand to keep monitoring my methods. Conversion rates, customer satisfaction ratings, and project schedules are a few examples of these KPIs. By monitoring these metrics regularly, I can evaluate the performance of my strategies and alter them based on data as necessary.

Q10. How would you assess the impact of potential issues?

Answer: To evaluate the effects of potential problems, I utilize a methodical strategy. Initially, I determine the type and extent of the issue by assessing its potential to cause disruptions or hinder project objectives. Then, I consider how it may impact related tasks and timelines. After prioritizing these issues based on severity and their overall impact on goals, I create contingency plans proactively and allocate resources efficiently. This approach allows me to effectively manage challenges before they escalate, ultimately minimizing any negative consequences for the success of the project.

Also Read: Common Interview Questions for Freshers .

Problem-Solving Questions with Answers for Experienced Candidates

Here are some problem-solving questions and answers for experienced individuals.

Q11. How would you approach a new idea that has enormous profit potential but could have legal ramifications for the business?

Answer: When faced with a project that involves both financial opportunities and possible legal consequences, I would prioritize caution and thorough evaluation. I would conduct in-depth research and seek guidance from legal specialists to fully understand the implications and compliance requirements involved.  Then, I would collaborate with lawyers, cross-functional teams, and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan that minimizes potential legal risks while maximizing revenue possibilities.

Q12. Give an example of a work or project that looked too big at first. What methods did you employ to guarantee its effective completion and how did you approach it?

Answer: In a former position, I was tasked with an assignment that demanded thorough data analysis and timely reporting. Despite feeling overwhelmed at first, I tackled the project by dividing it into manageable tasks. Moreover, I devised a comprehensive schedule to ensure the project stayed on course.  By prioritizing crucial components and collaborating with team members who possessed specialized skills in certain aspects, we successfully accomplished the task together in an efficient manner. With effective time management skills and dedicated effort from our team’s collaboration, we met the deadline and had exceptional results.

Q13. Have you ever solved a problem without managerial input? What was the outcome and how did you handle it?

Answer: In a previous position, I encountered a technical challenge that disrupted our operations. As the leader of the team, I took charge by collecting information and analyzing the problem. Together with my team, we conducted a brainstorming session to come up with potential solutions and collaborated with the IT department to resolve it. Our proactive approach helped minimize any further disruptions and enabled us to restore normalcy within 24 hours.

Q14. How do you respond when your supervisor asks for your opinion or recommendation?

Answer: When my supervisor asks for my input, I make sure to offer a thoughtful response. To start, I evaluate the circumstances and take into account any pertinent details while also considering possible consequences. Then, I communicate my perspective directly and succinctly and back it up with evidence or illustrations. Furthermore, I remain receptive to constructive feedback, promoting an environment of cooperation where ideas can be shared for the best course of action.

Q15. How do you assess a solution’s effectiveness?

Answer: Evaluating the effectiveness of a solution involves a systematic assessment procedure. To begin, specific metrics and key performance indicators are established in accordance with the nature and goals of the problem at hand. These indicators are continuously monitored, comparing data before and after implementation to detect any positive changes or discrepancies. Gathering feedback from individuals involved, such as team members and end-users, offers valuable perspectives on how well the solution is performing in practical settings. Consistent reviews and necessary adjustments guarantee and support long-term objectives effectively.

Q16. Describe how you learn from your experiences. 

Answer: Once a project or task is completed, I take time to conduct a thorough evaluation. By looking back at both achievements and difficulties encountered, I identify key factors that contributed to success or hindered progress. This introspection allows me to identify areas for development and fine-tune my approach for future ventures. Furthermore, getting feedback from my colleagues and supervisors offers unique viewpoints that contribute to a more holistic understanding of the experience.

Q17. Do you consider yourself a great problem solver?

Answer: I possess strong problem-solving abilities. My approach to challenges is proactive, breaking down complex problems into manageable parts. By examining the underlying causes and utilizing both creativity and critical thinking, I have a history of developing successful solutions. Moreover, I am open to collaborating with others and appreciate diverse viewpoints that contribute to comprehensive problem-solving approaches. While there is always room for growth, my past achievements showcase my determination to confront obstacles head-on and devise innovative resolutions.

Also Read: Behavioral Interview Questions .

Problem-Solving Interview Questions: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Below are relevant tips to aid you in answering problem-solving interview questions.

  • Avoid Giving Easy Responses- Individuals who opt for easier responses are considered to lack critical thinking.
  • Avoid Giving Hasty Responses- Take your time in addressing the issue at hand and make sure you have a thorough understanding of it. If there are any unclear points, ask for clarification before giving your response. This shows that you value accuracy and precision.
  • Avoid Taking Too Much on One Question- It is important to be brief and thorough when responding within a reasonable timeframe.

When answering an analytical question during an interview, endeavor to demonstrate the right mindset for solving problems. Problem-solving interview questions are an opportunity for you to showcase your analytical skills, creativity, and ability to handle challenges. You can make the right impression by preparing thoroughly, practicing different types of questions, and emphasizing your problem-solving ability.

Drop us a comment below if this blog has been helpful to you. Also, check out how to ace interviews with proven tips .

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sample questionnaire for problem solving

Shobha Saini, the Head of Human Resources at Internshala, has maintained a stellar track record in employee relations and talent acquisition. With eight exceptional years of experience, she specializes in strategic planning, policy-making, and performance management. A multi-talented individual, she has played a major role in strategizing HR practices in the organization.

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GMAT Quant Questions: Problem Solving

Note: GMAT Quant questions cover Problem Solving, and so much more. Be sure to use our GMAT Practice Test to test your knowledge of these concepts.

GMAT Quant Problem Solving-magoosh

On the GMAT Quantitative section, the Problem Solving questions are just the familiar five-choice multiple choice math problems you have seen on every standardized test since well before puberty.  Here, you have discovered a veritable treasure chest of Problem Solving sample questions.  

Below is a link to thirty-two different articles on this blog, each with at least two Problem Solving questions.  The sample GMAT Problem Solving questions are often at the top of the article, although sometimes they are further down in the text.  The total number of sample Problem Solving problems available from this page is far more than 37, the total number of math questions you will see on a full Quantitative section of the GMAT. 

In each blog, the solutions & explanations to the sample questions are at the ends of the articles.  (If the topic is less than crystal clear for you, you may find the article itself enlightening.)

1. Problems with Averages

2. Distance, Rate, Time

3. Permutations & Combinations

4. Factors & Prime Factorizations ( five practice PS questions at the bottom of the article )

5. Advanced Geometric Solids

6. Estimation questions

7. Difficult Dice Questions

8. Difference of Two Squares

9. Sequences ( five PS practice questions scattered through article )

10. Remainders

11. Work & Work Rate

12. Circle & Line Diagrams

13. Polygons

14. Set Problems, with Double Matrix Method

15. Set Problems, with Venn Diagrams

16. Scale Factor & Percent Change

17. Standard Deviation

18. Radicals

19. Function Notation

20. Algebraic Factoring

21. Hard Factorial Problems

22. Backsolving from the answers

23. Distance in the x-y plane

24. Pythagoras !

25. Lines in the x-y plane

26. Tricks for Calculating Combinations

27. Parallel & Perpendicular Lines and Midpoints in the x-y plane

28. Probability: AND & OR Rules

29. Probability: “at least” statements

30. Probability: counting problems

31. Hard counting problems

32. Probability: geometric probability

Also check out these GMAT Probability questions .

Other GMAT Practice Questions

Magoosh has practice materials for all of the GMAT question types in GMAT Quantitative  and in GMAT Verbal. Look at the table below, and click the links for more practice!

In addition to the GMAT Problem Solving resources in this post, check out our tutorials and new practice questions we’re releasing.

GMAT Critical Reasoning tests your ability to analyze written arguments.

For this GMAT Verbal question type, you read longer passages and answer comprehension questions about them.

GMAT Data sufficiency questions ask you whether you have been given enough information to solve a math problem.

GMAT Sentence Correction questions are focused on grammar, style, and other conventions of formal English writing.

We have plenty of free GMAT Practice materials right here on the blog.

You may also want to check out our reasonably-priced Magoosh GMAT plans. With a plan, you get hundreds of video lessons, nearly a thousand practice questions, and full-length mock GMAT tests.

And make sure you do practice questions that cover the most common GMAT Quant concepts too.

Addendum to the table: A special note on Sentence Correction questions

Sentence Correction questions are the very shortest questions on the test, both in terms of word count and time. Ideally, you should complete any SC question in less than one minute. Make sure you set your speed for this question type carefully. And be aware that Sentence Correction questions do NOT have their own subsection in GMAT Verbal; instead, SC is mixed in with Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension on the GMAT.

Mike MᶜGarry

Mike served as a GMAT Expert at Magoosh, helping create hundreds of lesson videos and practice questions to help guide GMAT students to success. He was also featured as “member of the month” for over two years at GMAT Club . Mike holds an A.B. in Physics (graduating magna cum laude ) and an M.T.S. in Religions of the World, both from Harvard. Beyond standardized testing, Mike has over 20 years of both private and public high school teaching experience specializing in math and physics. In his free time, Mike likes smashing foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Learn more about the GMAT through Mike’s Youtube video explanations and resources like What is a Good GMAT Score? and the GMAT Diagnostic Test .

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One response to “GMAT Quant Questions: Problem Solving”

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this work is fantastics job, i need more of the solved problems


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  1. Top 20 Problem Solving Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

    MIKE'S TIP: When you're answering this question, quantify the details. This gives your answer critical context and scale, showcasing the degree of challenge and strength of the accomplishment. That way, your answer is powerful, compelling, and, above all, thorough. 2. Describe a time where you made a mistake.

  2. 10 Proven Problem-solving Interview Questions [+Answers]

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  3. 8 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers

    2. Tell me about a time when you faced an unexpected challenge at work. Tip: For this question, you'll want to choose a specific example from your work history to demonstrate your ability to be flexible while solving problems. To stay focused, you can use the STAR method to answer this question.

  4. 50 Interview Questions About Problem Solving (With Answers)

    Demonstrating your ability to tackle challenges effectively can set you apart from other applicants. Here are five tips to help you showcase your problem-solving skills during an interview: 1. Use the STAR Method. Structure your responses using the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method.

  5. Problem-Solving Interview Questions: How-to + Examples

    To put these skills to the test, recruiters use "problem-solving" job interview questions, also known as analytical questions. Here are some common ones: Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

  6. 26 Expert-Backed Problem Solving Examples

    The example interview responses are structured using the STAR method and are categorized into the top 5 key problem-solving skills recruiters look for in a candidate. 1. Analytical Thinking. Situation: In my previous role as a data analyst, our team encountered a significant drop in website traffic.

  7. 25 Problem Solving Interview Questions & Answers

    4. Tell me about a time where you had to analyze a set of data and then make a recommendation. 5. When a problem requires a quick solution, how do you respond? 6. When it comes to problem solving, are you a strong collaborator? 7. When you cannot seem to find the right solution to a problem, how do you deal? 8.

  8. 15 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions

    Here are a few examples of technical problem-solving questions: 1. Mini-Max Sum. This well-known challenge, which asks the interviewee to find the maximum and minimum sum among an array of given numbers, is based on a basic but important programming concept called sorting, as well as integer overflow.

  9. 50 Problem Solving Examples for Interview Success in 2024

    Problem-solving interview questions are a common tool used by employers to assess a candidate's problem-solving skills. These questions are designed to evaluate a candidate's ability to think critically, analyze information, and propose effective solutions to complex problems. Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace Problem-solving skills are essential in the workplace as they ...

  10. 10 Problem-Solving Interview Questions [Updated 2024]

    What to look for in an answer: Understands problem-solving skills. Creative thinking. Communicates ideas well. Example: "In my opinion, creative thinking, determination, reasoning and decisive action are all qualities that good problem-solvers have.

  11. 25 Problem-Solving Interview Questions And Sample Answers

    Problem-Solving Exercises . Some interviewers also like to throw in a couple of weird interview questions, aimed at challenging your on-the-stop problem-solving skills.For example, Jeff Bezos once asked an interviewee to try counting the number of windows in Seattle. While the question may sound absurd, it gives the interviewer a good idea of how you structure your reasoning and employ logical ...

  12. 12 Problem Solving Interview Questions, Answers

    12 problem-solving interview questions and answers. It's hard to prepare problem-solving questions for adults without some solid examples. Let's go through 12 essential job interview questions about problem-solving, including some problem-solving sample answers and explanations for how each one shows off the candidate's problem-solving skills.

  13. McKinsey Problem Solving Test Practice Test A

    Problem Solving Test used for selection purposes. This test assesses your ability to solve business problems using deductive, inductive, and quantitative reasoning. This practice test contains a total of 26 questions. The actual test contains 26 questions and you will be given 60 minutes to answer as many questions as possible.

  14. 6 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers

    How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions. Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions Fact-Finding Questions. These questions focus on your ability to collect and analyze information, as well as make deductions based on your findings. Employers want to see that you can dig deep and uncover relevant points before arriving at a ...

  15. Sample answers for problem-solving interview questions

    Sample answer: "I'm an advocate of the 15-minute rule. I will take at least 15 minutes to try and solve the problem on my own. In that time, I will identify the problem, decide what the ideal result would be, and work out tasks to reach my goal. I'd rule out any options that might not work and consider the consequences of the options I ...

  16. Problem-Solving Interview Questions

    Problem-Solving Questions to Ask in an Interview: 1. What was your biggest work-related problem, and how did you resolve it? This is a great introductory question since it allows the candidate to describe their problem-solving process in as much detail as they like. Top candidates will explain why the problem occurred, how they resolved it, and ...

  17. Problem-Solving Interview Questions And Answers (With Examples)

    Problem-solving questions are used to focus on a candidates past experience with managing conflicts and overcoming obstacles in the workplace. When answering these questions, be sure to make your answer relevant to the position that you are applying to and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to provide examples from previous ...

  18. The Best Interview Questions for Assessing Problem Solving Skills

    A candidate's problem-solving skills are only as good as their ability to understand the quality of their solutions and the tradeoffs of their impact. Summary. Carefully crafted problem-solving questions can play a crucial role in assessing a candidate's ability to navigate difficult situations and devise effective solutions.

  19. Problem-Solving Interview Questions and How to Answer Them ...

    Problem-solving questions with sample answers To help you prepare for your next interview, we have assembled four common problem-solving questions that a recruiter or hiring manager may pose to you, as well as sample answers: 1. Tell me about a time you had to handle an upset customer or client.

  20. The Problem-Solving Interview: 16 Questions for Better Hires

    Why it works: Performance management is a tough nut to crack. You're looking for an executive candidate who has the right mix of diplomacy and energy to get the best work out of every employee. Question #5: Describe a leadership role you've undertaken outside of work.

  21. 31 Situational Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

    Here are five situational interview questions and sample answers you can use to help craft your responses. 1. What would you do if you made a mistake no one noticed? Employers may ask this question (or something similar) to assess your integrity and determine whether your ethics and beliefs align with the company.

  22. Top 17 Problem Solving Interview Questions with Answers (2024)

    Problem-Solving Interview Questions: Common Mistakes to Avoid. Below are relevant tips to aid you in answering problem-solving interview questions. Avoid Giving Easy Responses- Individuals who opt for easier responses are considered to lack critical thinking. Avoid Giving Hasty Responses- Take your time in addressing the issue at hand and make ...

  23. GMAT Problem Solving Sample Questions

    The total number of sample Problem Solving problems available from this page is far more than 37, the total number of math questions you will see on a full Quantitative section of the GMAT. In each blog, the solutions & explanations to the sample questions are at the ends of the articles. (If the topic is less than crystal clear for you, you ...

  24. Simplify Your Interview Process With This Blueprint + Questions

    4. Problem-solving and critical thinking. The test project will give you a glimpse into how the candidate thinks, but you can ask pointed questions so the candidate can articulate their thinking. You'll also want to understand their decision-making process, which can be crucial for a small business.

  25. Interview Questions and Answers for a Telecommunicator

    Strong problem-solving skills Solving problems quickly and effectively is a vital characteristic every telecommunicator should possess. Questions that gauge your ability to make quick yet prudent decisions may evaluate your problem-solving skills. Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples Exceptional communication abilities

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    Technical account manager cover letter sample To help you learn more about cover letters, here is a sample cover letter for a technical account manager: Marcus Ong Beng Chin Singapore (65) 9555 5555 [email protected] 4 March 2024 Mr. Robert Chan Wavewood Technologies Dear Mr Chan, I am writing this letter to convey my enthusiasm for the technical account manager position advertised on Indeed.