Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers
You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview.
As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.
What Is a Problem-Solving Interview Question?
A problem-solving interview question is a question that focuses on a candidate’s past experience with managing conflicts and overcoming unexpected obstacles in the workplace.
Problem-solving questions can come up in many different forms. As a general rule, however, they will be aimed at uncovering your ability to handle stress and uncertainty in a wide variety of contexts.
Has there been an instance when you used your skills to manage a crisis?
Can you keep your cool under pressure? That is what your interviewer is trying to establish here. The logical process you worked through to solve the problem should clarify how you evaluated the situation and acted decisively, leading to a successful outcome. Also, mention whether you reviewed the case to avoid similar crises in the future.
Sample answer: “A passenger complained of dizziness and nausea during a flight. While I was getting the appropriate medication, the passenger collapsed. I assessed the situation using my CPR training and determined that the passenger was still breathing but unconscious. After turning her on her side to help her breathe, I administered 100% oxygen and made her comfortable. I then called a doctor on board, who later determined that the passenger was anemic.”
Not answering the question or not providing enough detail
If you answer a question with ‘I can’t recall a situation where I encountered such a problem,’ this is considered a red flag. This could mean that you did not prepare well and that you’re not taking the interview seriously. Furthermore, the interviewer could interpret such an answer as you may avoid dealing with challenging situations.
If you cannot provide specific details or examples about what you claim in your resume or cover letter, this can be considered a red flag too. If you, for instance, claim that you have successfully solved problems and used critical thinking skills in your work, you need to make sure you’re able to back this up through clear examples of times you did so. Failing to do so could lead to a quick elimination of your candidacy for the position. If the interviewer has trouble verifying your employment history, this is considered a warning sign.
Preparing answers is key to success for any interview. However, this means preparing original, effective, and relevant answers that are related to the position you’re interviewing for.
Generic answers to behavioral problem-solving questions such as ‘tell me about a time you had to solve an issue with a customer‘ are considered warning signs. An example of a generic answer to that particular question is ‘this one time I had to deal with an angry customer who had complaints about the pricing of a product. I calmed her down and made the sale‘. As you can see, this answer does not provide much insight into your problem solving skills, thought process, and how you approach the situation.
If you give a generic answer, you can expect more follow-up questions from the interviewer. However, it’s better to prepare strong answers to impress the interviewer that you actually possess the required skills for the job.