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10 Interview Questions to Determine Problem Solving Skills


What is Problem Solving:

Problem-solving is the skill which you mostly require at the workplace. It is a trait that is required to solve complex and difficult issues with best possible solutions.

Interviews are a great and one of the surest short ways to find the best of the candidates for jobs and to know about them in detail.

Interviews are considered to be the second stage which a candidate needs to go through and pass in order to get selected or hired for a job. However, the most important factor of an interview is its one to one form of communication. That is, in an interview, a candidate is usually seated directly across the employers and is asked questions about various things that he had claimed in his resume.

With the help of this one to one form of communication, the employers are able to analyze the person from the very depth and then decide if he is or isn’t eligible for the job.

interview questions problem solving skills

It is important for both the interviewer as well as the interviewee to ask appropriate questions which will help both of them understand each other well.

One of the most important parts needed in a potential candidate for any job is problem-solving skills. Since problems are an integral part of life and can be faced by almost anyone in every situation, it is necessary for the candidates to be able to have a good understanding of the problems as well as skills required to solve them.

Employers during the interview process look for candidates with specific skills. One such important skill is a problem solving skill which is very essential to impress them. They are always in search of candidates who can solve problems arising in their organizations, either it can be related to the projects and tasks assigned to them or any other general company issues.

An eligible candidate should be one who can,

  • Identify and find the root cause of the problem.
  • Use your creative skills when analyzing the solution.
  • Find the best steps to solve problem.
  • Finally, need to implement the solutions.

Interview Questions to Gauge Problem-solving Abilities:

Interviews are generally scheduled for gauging people with best skills and choosing best candidates. So to assess candidates well, behavior type of questions need to be asked. In this type of question, both critical thinking and problem-solving questions will be included.

Some of the similar types of questions are:

  • Explain a situation where you had to face a difficult problem, and what did you deal with it?
  • Have you taken any steps to avoid general problems in the workplace?
  • Did you ever, provided a better solution than the currently existing one, in a process?
  • Describe the problem which you couldn’t manage personally?

Below is a list of good problem-solving interview questions which an employer should ask an employee to check and determine how advanced are the problem-solving skills of a potential candidate.

How to Measure Problem Solving Skills in an Interview:

The following mentioned are few tips on answering problem-solving questions for interviews and testing problem-solving skills.

1. If you find yourself under a stressful situation which requires you to act quickly what would you do?

Your answer should determine how well are you able to handle stressful situations and not crack under pressure. Since every company has to deal with a lot of pressure, you need to convince the employers that you know how to handle and deal with the situations.

As a person who is unable to work under stress and pressure is considered of not much use in a corporate situation. In a world where a person is expected to always be ready and prepared, a candidate is expected to make sure that he is in tune with himself and is able to deal with the stress as it comes along.

2. Tell us in detail what would you do, if a situation arrives in which you are not able to do effective problem solving and complete your task because you did not have enough information about the project at hand?

Your answer should focus on the fact that you would do anything in your ability to reverse the situation and try to solve the problem created as well as complete your task as quickly as possible with precision. Since no man is perfect, there will be times when you will find yourself in a stressful situation caused by lack of attention or any other factor.

It is necessary to be honest in such situations, accept your mistake and do anything in your power to reverse it. A person who not only is able to deal with stressful situations but is also strong enough to take the blame for his misfortune is someone who is considered to be a gem for the employers.

3. Describe a time in which you were in a position where your problem-solving skills were regularly tested.

For the above-mentioned problem-solving questions for interview, your answer should focus on your positive skills of problem-solving. You should also effectively mention about your analytical skills which will help the employers understand your skills and put you in a positive light.

So make sure that you also give some solid examples of your thoughts and various options that you considered for solving the problem.

4. How well can you manage to complete a task given to you in time half of what is actually required as it is of utmost importance to the company?

Your answer to this question should emphasize your skills of working under stressful situations and also on the ways or steps that you would take to manage the task effectively without compromising on its precision and quality.

Many times in corporate firms, a person is expected to give results in a very stringent time frame. It is important for the firm and its employers to make sure that a candidate is able to deal with such pressures and not crack during times like these.

5. Describe the most stressful work situation you came across and how did you handle it?

This is one of the interview questions to assess analytical skills along with problem-solving skills. Your answer for this should revolve around not only your problem solving and analytical skills but the steps which you really took to reverse the problem.

The firsthand experience of problem-solving and dealing with stressful situations is much appreciated by any employer as it gives a candidate greater chances of bagging the job. A person who has seen in real how a problem can arrive out of anywhere and the way a problem changes the situation is of great importance to the company.

6. How would you manage a project which requires systematic and to the point analysis of every single detail that goes into its proceeding?

Your answer should focus on Systematic analysis and the various ways in which you can be able to make the analysis to the very last detail. Every project done with precision is much needed in any firm and employers first prefer the people who are willing to create such perfect results with little or no scope for mistakes.

A person or candidate who has an eye for detail and precision not only is a good employee but also a great example to the other co-workers in an organization. People who give their best in their work are often chosen first by employers during the hiring process.

7. Give us an example of a situation which you would do differently if given another chance.

This type of problem-solving questions for interviews might probably leave a lot of candidates confused. It is important to be straight forward and if needed even accept ones bad decisions and give a different way of going through with the problem if given a second chance.

Employers believe that people who are passionate about their job and if they go wrong somewhere, they have always the thought in mind that what they would do or could do if given another chance to rectify the mistake. People who are straight forward as well as thoughtful are appreciated by the employers who are hiring.

8. Tell us about the various decisions which are significant to you that you have had to make in your current job.

The response to this question needs to be straight forward and to the point. However, make sure that you are forthcoming but do not in any way divulge confidential information to the employers or the interviewers. As if you accidentally say what you are not supposed to, you might not get the job and also lose your current one too.

People who know what to say, when to say and how to say are the people who are needed and required the most in the corporate field. If a candidate divulges confidential information about his current firm, there are chances that he might spill some information about the firm for which he is interviewing in the future. No employer would take that risk.

9. Do you follow any specific process or steps while solving a problem?

Usually, people who are good at solving problems and dealing with specific situations have a way which is usually defined by which they solve the problems. One needs to be forthcoming about its ways but also be very brief and to the point.

Jargon needs to be avoided. A candidate may also give a couple of examples from the past that he might have come across and used various ways to solve problems.

10. Discuss a problem at your current job which you yet have to solve.

The response to this question should highlight the toughest problem that you are working on. You need to show that you understand that some problems are not solved easily and a lot of determination and perseverance is needed to solve these problems.

A candidate with the qualities of determination and perseverance is immediately liked by the employers and can be hired for the job.

Problem Solving Questions Interview:

Problem-solving interview questions are basically asked to test and measure a candidate’s way of solving and providing a solution to complex and unusual issues.

Common examples of problem-solving interview questions

  • Describe a situation at work which was very stressful and how you dealt with it?
  • Tell us about a problem at work which you couldn’t solve and what did you do?
  • Do you enjoy solving the problem on your own before asking for any help?
  • Have you ever used a creative solution to solve any work-related problem
  • How do you deal with new challenges at work
  • Did it ever happen that you were gonna miss the deadline. How did you handle the solution?
  • Explain a troubleshooting process
  • What makes you the best problem solver as per you?
  • How do you deal with a situation where you cannot find the problem’s solution
  • In case of an urgent situation, what do you do, react immediately to solve the problem or assess the situation?
  • Tell us something about your previous job’s most challenging aspect and how you used to handle it?
  • Describe your process of collecting data and create problem-solving strategies
  • What type of process did you use for solving problems in your previous company
  • Explain the data collection process and the process of conducting risk management
  • Tell us how do you analyze and assess the risk and how do you deal with it
  • Describe a problem-solving situation which you did with an example

Steps to develop an impressive answer to the problem solving skills questions:

  • Define the Problem
  • Analyze the Problem
  • Generate Possible Solutions
  • Select the Best Solution
  • Implement and learn which strategy was effective

Out of all the questions asked and the answers given one must understand that a candidate needs to be honest in his responses and an employer considerate in his questions. One should not divulge or asked to divulge unnecessary information with the help of these questions.