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Problem-solving Interview Questions You Should be Ready to Answer

Do you want to show the recruiter your problem-solving skills? Here are 9 problem-solving interview questions and tips on how how to answer them.

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Do you want to show the recruiter your problem-solving skills? Here are 9 problem-solving interview questions and tips on how how to answer them.

Photo credit: Rodnae

An interview is meant to assess whether you are the right fit for the company. Therefore, as you prepare for your interview, you need to make sure you touch all the bases. You cannot be sure of what a recruiter will ask, but you can prepare effectively for all the possible interview questions.

If you are applying for a job position that requires you to solve problems or think critically, you need to prepare for problem-solving questions. In order for you to answer these questions effectively, you need to know what the recruiter is looking for.


Why do recruiters use problem-solving interview questions?

Interview questions that highlight analytical and problem-solving skills are meant to give the recruiter a glimpse of how your brain operates when under pressure. Furthermore, answering these interview questions will help you show:


  • Your method of approaching complex issues in the workplace especially when you are under pressure


  • Your process of analyzing data to get to the root cause of a  problem


  • How you can handle stressful situations out of the blue


  • Your reactions when your beliefs are challenged in the workplace


  • Your method of preventing an issue from recurring in the future.


Here are 9 examples of interview questions that highlight problem-solving skills and tips on how to answer them

1. What steps do you take before making a decision on how to solve a problem?

This interview question focuses on your problem-solving skills. Do you have a  formal thought process when solving problems? The following questions will help you create a formal thought process:


  • What do you consider when making decisions?


  • Do you have a standard process of thinking when solving problems?


Use the answers to create a standard thinking process that works across the board. The recruiter wants to know if your mind tackles issues in an organized manner that makes sense. This system assures the recruiter that you don't always ask for help when faced with a stressful issue. It shows whether you have a plan and can handle work problems with or without help.

2. What is the greatest work-related problem you have faced? And how did you solve it?

When answering this interview question, show that you have a good memory and vividly explain how you solved the issue. The recruiter wants to know:


  • What you consider to be a big problem


  • How you fixed the problem


  • How long it took you to fix the problem


  • Whether you got any external assistance from your colleagues or friends


  • What you are willing to comment about your previous employer


Don’t take this opportunity to make negative comments about your previous employer or job. What you consider to be a serious problem is relative but the recruiter will use this information to know if you will be overwhelmed by the stress in your workplace.

3. What personal weakness did you have to overcome to improve your performance at work? And how did you overcome it?

The recruiter wants to know if you are aware of your weaknesses. Awareness means that you welcome growth in your career and are open to criticism in the workplace. A good answer will highlight that you are open to improving. Improvement could be in the sense of becoming better at what you do by learning new skills and discovering new talents. Your answer to this interview question will demonstrate your capability.

4. Have you ever had to change your planned strategy?

When answering this interview question, highlight an unexpected situation that you have ever come across and how you managed to solve it eventually. The answer will let the recruiter know how you approach stressful situations.

5. What is the most innovative solution to a problem that you have ever proposed and successfully executed?

Companies are always looking for talented and innovative employees to help them achieve their goals and grow. The answer to this interview question must include a project that shows your innovation and creativity. Make sure that you walk the recruiter through the entire process and highlight your thought process at the time.

6. What experience has ever made you want to stand up against injustice?

The motive for this interview question is quite direct. The recruiter wants to know your strong beliefs to help them know if you will be a good fit for the company. They also want to know your definition of wrong and right. Your answer should either be black or white. Don’t pick a neutral answer as it will confuse the recruiter. Additionally, the recruiter wants to know if your personality will mesh with that of the other employees in the workplace.

7. Have you ever missed an important deadline and how did you manage this situation?

The recruiter wants to know if you are honest and whether you can accept your mistakes. Therefore, you should start by explaining why you missed the deadline. Make sure the recruiter understands the reason behind it - this is crucial.

8. Have you ever realized that a colleague has made a mistake and how did you deal with this situation? What was the result?

This interview question focuses on interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are crucial in any workplace so your answer should center on how constructive and diplomatic you are. Are you someone that is open to helping and pushing your colleagues to grow? Or are you more focused on highlighting their shortcomings and going about your day? Don’t talk negatively about your previous co-workers as this will be a red flag to the recruiter. Talk about a scenario that highlights your kindness and respect. How did you solve the problem? Give a detailed description of the process that you used. A recruiter doesn’t want to hire someone who will constantly cause friction when handling their coworkers. Don’t forget to talk about the strategy that you used to solve the problem.

9. How will you handle a dissatisfied customer?

Bring out your problem-solving skills when answering this interview question. Highlight a scenario where you handled a difficult customer calmly and got positive results. Alternatively, talk about a situation where you calmed down a client before solving an issue.


Tips for answering problem-solving interview questions


  • When giving examples, provide details about the situation


  • Choose examples that show your personality


  • Don’t focus on examples that highlight your weaknesses


  • Make sure the examples you use are relevant to the position you are interested in


  • Peruse through the possible examples of interview questions and think of examples of scenarios that you can use during the interview


  •  Don’t speak negatively about your previous employer or job


  • Make sure the examples you use allow you to go into detail and highlight your skills, abilities, talents, and expertise


  • Develop a formal process of solving problems that can be applied across most of the interview questions



The use of interview questions that highlight problem-solving skills is rare. furthermore, these questions vary depending on the job position and industry. Practice answering these interview questions in front of a mirror or with a friend. Alternatively, try to write down your answers on a piece of paper. Before you answer any question, take some time to think and analyze.

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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