Problem-Solving Questions For Interview (With Examples And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 September 2022 | Published 15 November 2021

Updated 19 September 2022

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During some interviews, an interviewer can ask you questions that may require you to think critically and solve problems. The aim of these questions can be to gauge your analytical skills and find out how creative you can be while solving problems at work. Learning in detail about problem-solving interview questions can help you prepare better for this part of the interview. In this article, we discuss what problem-solving questions during interview are and go through some sample questions along with their answers.

Related: How To Highlight Problem-Solving Skills On A Resume

What Are Problem-Solving Questions?

Problem-solving questions can vary across industries, but in most cases, they focus on how logically and effectively you can analyse a problem and figure out a plausible solution to that problem. Also known as analytical skills interview questions, these questions help a company understand how a candidate analyses and solves a complex problem when faced with one. They may ask some carefully designed questions that can tell them about the candidate's approach towards difficult situations and how result-oriented they can be at work. These types of questions give employers an insight into a candidate's thinking process that can include:

  • Accumulating information from varied sources

  • Thinking critically to assess that information

  • Making decisions that help the business grow

  • Sharing their findings or recommendations with team members

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Problem-Solving Questions With Sample Answers

Below are some examples of problem-solving questions with answers:

1. What is your course of action when you face a problem?

The interviewer may be trying to find out your problem-solving process when they ask this question. They may want to understand if your logical problem-solving process involves gathering information, analysing the information and making decisions based on what you have found.

Example: "When I face a problem, first I look for examples of how others have solved the same problem. This research equips me with various approaches to solving the problem and helps me select the one that best suits me and the organisation. Then, I determine what is the course of action that I can take to solve the problem which involves communicating with my managers and colleagues."

Related: 21 Essential Skills for Every Type of Engineer

2. Tell me about the time your organisation assigned you a task, but you lacked the necessary skills to complete it.

The interviewer is trying to know how resourceful you can be when employers assign you demanding tasks. They want to understand how you face challenging situations, test your accountability and if you are a professional who may bring problems or solve them.

Example: "I held the position of junior sales executive in my previous organisation and progressed from it to area sales manager despite not having the proper training. With little training, it compelled me to figure out things mostly by myself. This exercise trained me to take up responsibilities that were sometimes beyond my job description. Now, when I am assigned a task for which I lack the necessary knowledge, I gain an understanding of it on my own and give my best to accomplish it."

3. Tell me about the time when you faced an unexpected situation at work and how did you solve the problem?

You can answer this question by using an example of an incident that happened at your workplace. You can employ the STAR method here, which stands for situation, task, action and result. Briefly narrate the situation, your part in that, the action you took and its outcome.

Example: "When I was working as a showroom manager, there was a customer who had come to pick up a car he had booked a few months ago. When I checked the day's delivery list, I found that someone from the team had accidentally delivered the car to some other customer. I quickly called up my contacts in other showrooms to arrange for the same car model and within a couple of hours, I got it to the showroom and delivered it to the customer."

Related: Key Employability Skills to be Successful in the Workplace

4. How would you handle an unhappy and angry customer?

The interviewer realises that sometimes a disgruntled customer can add to the pressure of the job. Through this question, they want to know how you behave in such situations and what are your ways to tackle the dissatisfied customer. Briefly describe how you can address the problem.

Example: "When I come across an agitated customer, I make sure that I stay calm and genially approach them so that I do not upset them any further. Next, I ask them the reason behind their dissatisfaction, which helps me gather all the details to solve the problem. Once I have understood what has gone wrong, I assure the customer that I and my team may take all the steps to fix the problem swiftly. I even give the customer regular updates so that they know their issue is getting resolved adequately."

5. What are the distinct steps you take while making a crucial decision?

Here, the interviewer wants to figure out your decision-making abilities. This question allows them to better understand how effectively you solve problems while accomplishing the task. The interviewer wants to figure out your process of thinking and how good are the outcomes.

Example: "I was holding the position of associate editor at my previous organisation. My managing editor was on leave one day and because of some factual discrepancies in one article, I had to take the call if we required rewriting it or create a new one. I figured out that writing the new article would take only a couple of hours more than rewriting the existing article. I wrote a fresh one to avoid the risk of encountering future issues with the existing article. My editor completely agreed with it when he was back from the leave."

Related: The 8D Problem-Solving Method: What It Is And How To Use It

6. What are the different metrics that you track regularly? How do you use this data to rework your approach?

Companies that have their businesses based on analytics often ask this question. Through this question, the interviewer is trying to know how you deal with figures and data and how it influences your decisions. Select a couple of metrics that you use daily to showcase how you rework your approach to boost the outcome.

Example: "As a search engine optimisation (SEO) content writer, I often use web analytics tools to find out the success of my content. If my articles are not ranking in higher positions in search engines, I rework my content to ensure that it becomes relevant for the audience. I use the analytics tools to see what people are reading the most and why certain articles are not driving much traffic. Then, I use that data to write my articles accordingly and target keywords that people are searching for while keeping the content engaging and pertinent."

7. Your supervisor wants to purchase new software to help boost the team's productivity, for which he asks for your recommendations. How do you respond?

Here, the interviewer is trying to determine what are the steps that you take during the research phase of the problem-solving process. You can start by mentioning how you weigh the pros and cons of the decision and then talk about your research and data gathering processes.

Example: "Before I present my recommendation, I would ask my supervisor to share the company's budget and the team's requirements. Once I have the information, I would start reading about the productivity software options that can suit both the team and the budget. Apart from features and price, I would also consider how future-proof the software is so that the company does not spend on other software soon. Finally, I would give my top three software options to the supervisor with all their pros and cons."

Related: What Are Creativity Skills? (With Examples And Benefits)

8. What are the factors you take into consideration while weighing the pros and cons before making a decision?

An organisation may thoroughly test your problem-solving skills and the process that is involved before they hire you. With this question, they want to ensure that you can make intelligent decisions driven by available information and facts.

Example: "My first step is to make sure that I carefully examine the pros and cons and what each of them can cause. Next, I contemplate the obstacles I or my team can face because of the cons. If they can create a hindrance to achieving targets, then the approach probably may not be effective. Then I consider how the pros are outweighing the cons and what positive results they can deliver. If they outdo the cons in terms of accomplishments, then I would prefer to pursue them and deal with the impediments as they come my way."

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

Tips For Answering Problem-Solving Questions

Following a problem-solving process can include defining the problem, coming up with alternative solutions, evaluating those solutions and selecting the alternatives for their implementation. Here are a few top tips to keep in mind while answering these types of questions:

  • Focus on your strengths and ensure they align with your answers

  • Carefully choose examples that augment your problem-solving skills

  • Mention specific details about the incidents and what was your part in them

  • Provide examples that are related to the role for which you are appearing for the interview

  • Give answers that can help you clearly make your point

Related: How To Perform Case Interview Prep For A Job Interview

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