Are you preparing for a job interview? Then you should practice your answers for a series of problem-solving interview questions. Problem-solving skills are one of the top interpersonal skills that employers value. This skill helps you solve issues effectively and efficiently and demonstrates that you use creativity, logic, and intelligence to come up with solutions.
Problem-solving interview questions can vary across industries. The main focus of these questions is on the candidates’ experiences and how they responded to those in a logical manner.
What are the problem-solving interview questions for? Why do interviewers ask problem-solving questions?
Recruiters or interviewers measure the candidate’s approach towards a difficult situation by asking situational questions to test their problem-solving skills. They want to assess if the candidates can easily develop a solution and their behavior when faced with stressful situations. Asking your past performance is the best way for the recruiter to gauge your future performance.
Problem-solving interview questions (1-13)
Now that you understand what problem-solving interview questions are, let’s take a look at 50 of the most common problem-solving interview questions:
1. Describe a situation where you had to solve a problem. What did you do? What was the result? What might you have done differently?
2. Give an example of a situation in which you saw an opportunity in a potential problem. What did you do? What was the outcome?
3. What steps do you take before making a decision on how to solve a problem, and why?
4. Give an example of a time that you realized a colleague had made a mistake. How did you deal with this? What was the outcome?
5. Describe the biggest work-related problem you have faced. How did you deal with it?
6. Tell me about a time where you have been caught off-guard by a problem that you had not foreseen. What happened?
7. Describe a time where you developed a different problem-solving approach. What steps did you follow?
8. Tell me about a time when you became aware of a potential problem and resolved it before it became an issue.
9. Describe a personal weakness that you had to overcome to improve your performance at work? How did you do it?
10. What metrics do you track on a regular basis? How do you use the information to adjust your approach?
11. Tell me about a time when you had to change your planned course of action at the last moment. How did you handle this situation?
12. Describe a time when you had to solve a problem but didn’t have all the necessary information about it beforehand. What did you do?
13. What was the most stressful situation you faced at work? How did you handle it?
Problem-solving interview questions (14-29)
14. Describe a situation at work when you were faced with a problem you could not solve. What did you do?
15. Are you the type of person who will always try to solve the problem on your own before asking for help?
16. How do you cope when you face a challenge you’ve never previously experienced?
17. Give us an example of a situation when you realized that you wouldn’t be able to meet the set deadline. What did you do?
18. In your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver?
19. What do you do in a situation when you cannot seem to find the right solution to a problem?
20. When you are faced with an urgent problem, how do you react? Are you the type of person who jumps right into solving problems, or do you first carefully assess the situation?
21. Describe a time you had to solve a problem without managerial input. How did you do it, and what was the result?
22. Give an example of a time you identified and fixed a problem before it became urgent.
23. Tell me about a time you predicted a problem. How did you prevent it from escalating?
24. Describe a situation where you faced serious challenges in doing your job efficiently. What were the challenges, and how did you overcome them?
25. Recall a time you successfully used crisis-management skills.
26. How do you know when to solve a problem on your own or to ask for help?
27. Describe a situation in which you found a creative way to overcome an obstacle.
28. Recall a time when you identified a need and went above and beyond the call of duty to get things done.
29. Tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach to a problem.
Problem-solving interview questions (30-44)
30. What’s the most innovative new idea that you have implemented?
31. Tell me about two improvements you have made in the last six months.
32. What was the best idea you came up with at your last job?
33. Please describe a time when you faced a significant obstacle to succeeding with an important work project or activity.
34. Recall a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation.
35. Tell me about a time you faced an unexpected challenge at work and how you dealt with it.
36. Describe a time a customer approached you with a problem or concern. How did you respond?
37. Give an example where you had to change your planned course of action at the last moment. How did you re-evaluate your priorities?
38. What’s the most significant improvement that you have made in the last year?
39. Tell me about the most innovative idea that you have implemented in the workplace.
40. Have you ever improved the workflow of a project based on your analysis? How did you do this?
41. Tell me about a time you faced a significant obstacle that you had to overcome to succeed in a project.
42. When you’re working on several projects, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to all of them. How do you go about prioritizing the needs of a client?
43. What do you consider your greatest achievement in the workplace? Why?
44. Describe a situation in which you needed to motivate others to get something done.
Problem-solving interview questions (45-60)
45. Tell me how you would handle a situation in which you have a deadline you cannot meet.
46. How would you handle a conflict with a co-worker?
47. A frustrated client calls you to discuss a problem. How do you deal with such a situation?
48. How would you handle a situation in which you would need to convince someone to change their decision?
49. Recall a time where you went above and beyond for work.
50. Tell me about a time you had to choose something else over doing a good job.
51. Describe a situation where you weren’t satisfied with your job. What could have made it better?
52. Tell me about a time you reached a big goal at work. How did you reach it?
53. Recall a time where you had to collaborate with a co-worker who was tough to please.
54. Describe a situation where you had to make a good impression on a customer. How did you do it?
55. Tell me about a time you had to work with an important customer or a difficult manager.
56. Describe your biggest work failure. How did you handle it?
57. Tell me about a time you used written communication skills.
58. Describe a situation where you needed information from a co-worker who was slow to respond. What did you do?
59. Recall a time where you had to persuade someone to see your side of things.
60. Tell me about a situation when your job went through big changes. How did you adjust?
How to Answer Problem-Solving Questions
The best way to answer problem-solving questions is by providing an honest and concise answer that is backed up with facts. When answering problem-solving interview questions, your response should contain a problem you faced, your solution, and the benefit of your solution to your employer.
The most common yet still effective way to prepare for problem-solving questions are the following:
- Thoroughly analyze the factors that caused the problem.
- Think of all the possible solutions to these problems.
- Assess all the costs and the effectiveness of each potential solution.
- Explain how you’ll implement the plan.
- Share how effective it is and how it is the most logical solution to the problem.
In addition to these, you should also consider following the STAR method technique.
The STAR format stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result:
Situation: Describe the situation and what you were working for or the given task.
Task: Describe the task you were responsible for in that situation.
Action: Describe the action you took to solve the problem.
Result: Describe the results your action generated.
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