Every interview is an opportunity to show the interviewer what you’re made of and to prove that you’re the best candidate for the job. Interviews are challenging to candidates who aren’t prepared and who don’t know how to handle common interview questions. If you’ve never had to give a presentation before, you may be at a loss as to how to sell a project you’ve worked on.

Interviews are a great way for employers to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. These questions are designed to push a candidate to their limits by thinking of complicated solutions to real-world problems. Answering these problem-solving questions correctly can make or break an interview.

This blog will provide you with a list of common problem-solving interview questions and how you can turn these into an opportunity to show off your skills.

Problem-solving interview questions: what are they?

Employers will ask candidates about their ability to gather information, analyze a problem, weigh the pros and cons, and make a reasoned decision in problem-solving interview questions. These inquiries, which are also referred to as analytical skills interview questions, frequently center on particular instances when the applicant analyzed a situation or had to solve a problem, as well as the steps they took to gather and comprehend the necessary information before solving the issue.

Employers can learn more about a candidate’s information gathering, information evaluation, decision-making for the benefit of the company, and communication of findings or recommendations to team members by asking questions of this nature. These are the kinds of questions that employers ask to get a sense of how applicants will handle difficult situations that they might run into at work.

6 Tips - No One Tells You About Problem-Solving Interview Questions.

Why you should ask candidates to solve problems during interviews

In their work, employees will encounter difficulties. Use the interview process to gauge candidates’ approaches to challenging situations before choosing your next hire.
Interview questions about problem-solving demonstrate how candidates:

  • Approach difficult problems
  • Examine the information to identify the source of the issue.
  • Perform in pressure-filled, unforeseen circumstances
  • When their beliefs are questioned, respond

Use interview questions that test candidates’ problem-solving abilities to spot those who are focused on results. Look for people who can solve technical problems and who are analytical and spherical in their thinking. Candidates who can identify a problem or foresee one might arise will stand out. Candidates should explain how they would resolve the problem and stop it from happening again.
Any position can use these sample problem-solving interview questions, regardless of the position’s industry or level of seniority. You can assess your candidates’ capacity for problem-solving by asking them questions.

Problem-solving questions with sample answers

1. What do you do when you are faced with a problem?

This question is typically asked by employers to learn more about how you approach problems. They want you to explain a methodical approach to solving problems that involve gathering data, analyzing it, and then drawing conclusions from what you learn.

Sample Answers – “Whenever I’m faced with a problem, I usually start by researching the issue or looking at examples of how others have solved similar issues.” I can choose the problem-solving strategy that will work best for me and the organization based on the research I’ve done. Then, after determining the necessary course of action to resolve the issue, I begin implementing it while coordinating with my managers and fellow employees.”

2. Describe a time when you had to overcome a surprise obstacle at work.

You should select a specific instance from your work history to illustrate your capacity for flexibility in problem-solving for this question. You can respond to this question using the STAR method to stay focused. Describe the circumstances, your involvement in the problem, the steps you took to solve it, and the outcome.

Sample Answers – “I once had a customer come in to pick up a dress that she had ordered online when I was a retail manager. However, I discovered that the dress had unintentionally been returned to the sales floor and bought by another customer when I went to pick up her order. I made a call to a different store location and requested that they keep the same dress in the customer’s size. It was free to ship and arrived at her house in two days. A week later, I learned that the client had called our corporate office to express her gratitude for the kind gesture.”

3. How do you balance the benefits and drawbacks before making a  choice?

This query aids the employer in comprehending your approach to problem-solving. They want to be certain that you are making wise decisions based on the information at your disposal.

Sample Answers – “When I have a list of advantages and disadvantages to guide me in making a decision, I begin by analyzing whether the disadvantages will prevent me from achieving my desired result or add needless burden elsewhere. If so, the strategy is probably not going to work. If not, I’ll weigh whether the advantages of a successful outcome outweigh the disadvantages. If the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, it is worthwhile to pursue it and deal with any side effects as they occur.”

4. How would you respond to a client who was irate or unsatisfied?

Every job involves unpleasant or stressful circumstances. Employers are interested in learning how you will act in these circumstances as you attempt to resolve the problems that led to them. Even though this is a broad question, it might be helpful to consider a particular instance where you came across a disgruntled customer and were able to allay their concerns.

Sample Answers – “I begin by acting in a composed and supportive manner when I come across an irate or unhappy customer. I don’t want to aggravate them further. After gathering all the information required, I will attempt to determine what has caused them to be unhappy. Once I’ve identified the issue, I’ll consider a solution and make sure to let the client know exactly what steps I’ll be taken to adequately address their concern.”

5. What metrics do you regularly monitor? How do you modify your strategy using the information?

If you are interviewing for a job that requires you to review analytics in order to make decisions, you might be asked this question. Choose two or three metrics that you use frequently and think about how these metrics affect your decisions to prevent losing focus.

Sample Answers – “I frequently use open rates and conversion rates as a manager of email marketing to evaluate the effectiveness of my campaigns. If email open rates are low, I might go back and make sure the content is still pertinent to the reader or try changing the subject line to make it more engaging. If conversion rates are low, I will review the email copy again to make sure it is compelling and clear and go over the offer again to make sure it is pertinent and useful to the intended audience.”

6. Describe a time when you had to abruptly alter your planned course of action. How did you respond to this circumstance?

With the help of this interview question, you can demonstrate your adaptability and quick thinking while showcasing how you handle pressured situations. You should use the STAR method once more in your response by outlining the circumstances, outlining your involvement, outlining the course of action you took, and outlining the outcomes.

Sample Answers – “The night before an event, as a catering manager, I was informed that the ingredients we needed to make the appetizers would not be delivered on time and would instead arrive after we needed them. I obtained a list of the necessary ingredients and stopped at the store en route to the event. Just in time for the party, my group and I were able to prepare the appetizers. The party planner specifically mentioned the appetizers in her online review because she felt they were so well received by all of the guests.”

7. Your manager requests your opinion before making the decision to purchase new software in order to boost team productivity. What is your reaction?

This situational problem-solving interview question enables the hiring manager to learn more about the actions you take when conducting research for a problem. Although the interviewer might not use this particular example, it’s still important to be ready to discuss your research and data collection methods.

Sample Answers – “I would start by asking my manager which characteristics are most crucial and what the company’s budget is. With this knowledge, I would start looking into affordable productivity software options that meet the minimum standards. I would think about the software’s capacity to satisfy future needs in addition to features and cost, as well as user reviews. I would reduce the list to the top three options after I had about five or six options. I would outline a few reasons why this choice was the best when I gave my manager my recommendation.”

8. Describe a situation in which you had to solve a problem but didn’t have all the information you needed to do so in advance. How did you act?

In any business setting, you might find yourself having to solve a problem without all the necessary information. Employers are interested in learning how you handle this inconvenience while still finding a logical and workable solution. Pick a scenario from your past that best demonstrates your strengths and independence.

Sample Answers – “The CEO of our company informed me when I was working as an office manager that employee productivity was declining and that I needed to find a solution. I chose to ask the team members by conducting interviews and sending out brief surveys because there are many potential causes for decreased productivity. With the help of this data, I was able to determine that workers lacked a system for task organization and tracking. After the CEO implemented the new project management system I suggested, productivity went up by 10%.”

Things to be aware of While you’re being interviewed

No response. A candidate may avoid dealing with challenging situations if they can’t think of an example of a problem they encountered in a previous position.
Canned responses. – a general response such as “I once had to deal with a client who was unhappy with the cost. I was able to defuse the situation and seal the deal “reveals little about the candidate’s thought process. To learn more details, follow up with more inquiries.

Pay attention to the issue rather than the fix. – Finding the issue is important, but figuring out a solution is even more crucial. Candidates who dwell too much on the issue might be too pessimistic about the job.
Stressed or uncomfortable. When put on the spot, it’s common to feel a little uneasy. However, it’s a sign that a candidate can’t handle stress if they are so frazzled that they are unable to respond to the question.

Superficial solutions. – Candidates who take the simple route out of a situation frequently overlook relevant factors and constraints. Choose candidates who examine the information you’ve provided and inquire about additional details to better understand the issue.
Cover up the issue or downplay its importance. Problems that go unsolved could easily become more serious ones. Workers who put things off may not be goal-oriented or invested in their work.

Tips for evaluating problem-solving abilities in interviews

  • Use hypothetical situations that could arise on the job during your interviews. It’s best to stay away from irrational issues that aren’t pertinent to your business.
  • Examine candidates’ problem-solving processes in detail, from identifying and analyzing the problem to weighing the available options and selecting the best one.
  • Candidates with novel solutions merit your attention. Fresh perspectives from creative minds can benefit your business.
  • Ask questions that are pertinent to the work that your future hires will be doing if you’re hiring for a technical position. Technical problem-solving interview questions, such as “How would you troubleshoot this X bug?”, will show you a candidate’s hard skills and demonstrate their capacity to handle issues on the job.
  • Employees should be committed and have a can-do attitude when issues arise. Examine the candidates’ past experience with problem-solving. They would make excellent hires if they were committed to identifying the best solution as soon as possible.
  • The majority of challenging situations demand teamwork. The candidates’ prior experiences will demonstrate how they worked with others to reach decisions and how at ease they were seeking assistance.

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