What is one good example of problem-solving that a candidate can reference in a job interview?
It’s common interview advice you’ve likely heard before: provide specific examples of your past accomplishments. Need some help narrowing down just which accomplishment you should share during an interview? Try referencing a time when you provided a solution to a tricky business-oriented problem.
This is sure to impress any interviewer, but don’t take our word for it. Here are 10 recruiters weighing in with examples they’d love to hear when interviewing candidates.
- Sold Reluctant Team Members on a New Process
- Rescued the Team from a Website Crash
- Got Creative with a Limited, Tight Budget
- Discovered & Corrected Their Own Mistake
- Delivered on a Time-Crunch Deadline with Limited Resources
- A Comeback from a Lagging Project to On-Time Delivery
- Didn’t Let Conflict Indefinitely Stall a Project
- Thought Outside of the Box for an Innovative Solution
- Used a Competitor’s Mistake as a Learning Opportunity
- Sought External Partnership to Address a Budget Crunch
Sold Reluctant Team Members on a New Process
A good example of problem-solving is when a candidate I was interviewing for a position told me about the situation in which he was working with a team, and he wanted to implement a new process, but the whole team was against it. The candidate was able to go around and talk to each person on the team individually, work out their concerns and then present that information in a way that everyone could understand and agree with. This allowed the team to progress on the project, which helped them meet deadlines and ultimately implement the new process.
This is a great example, and especially so with how he described it in an engaging and convincing storytelling fashion. It shows that the candidate can work with people from all different backgrounds and personalities. It also shows that he has the ability to listen, understand, and communicate effectively in order to get a problem solved while working in a team.
Shaun Connell, Connell Media
Rescued the Team from a Website Crash
Discuss an unexpected challenge that you handled without managerial input. For example, maybe the website crashed or some site assets were delayed for a new product launch. How did you come to the rescue for your team and use your problem-solving skills to find a resolution? This shows that you can take initiative and don’t panic at the sight of conflict.
Natália Sadowski, Nourishing Biologicals
Got Creative with a Limited, Tight Budget
One great example of problem-solving a candidate can reference in a job interview is a time they worked through a limited budget. Finding creative solutions to money problems is always a desired characteristic, even outside accounting. It shows a candidate knows how to make use of what they have. Specific examples of resourcefulness will also go a long way in an interview.
Sasha Ramani, MPOWER Financing
Discovered & Corrected Their Own Mistake
Problem-solving requires multiple reasoning stages—from recognizing the problem, analyzing it, looking for a solution, and finding the winning one. Sharing how you fixed your own mistake is probably the best way to include all of those elements. If you talk about your own experience, you can describe how you discovered your error and your step-by-step journey to finding the appropriate solution. This story is double-beneficial. Besides showing your problem-solving skills, it shows that you are an ambitious, independent employee.
Karolina Zajac, PhotoAiD
Delivered on a Time-Crunch Deadline with Limited Resources
A job candidate can reference an instance where they resolved a time-management problem. While this is specific to each applicant, it can be a situation where a deadline was crucial and resources were lacking. Describe how you resolved the resource issue to meet the product or service deadline along with the results afterward. Your answer should describe the steps you took to resolve the problem as well as how you came up with the solution to meet the need.
Tanya Klien, Anta Plumbing
A Comeback from a Lagging Project to On-Time Delivery
The interviewer likes to hear a story that demonstrates you can face obstacles under pressure while working well with others. Speak briefly to a project and what proved challenging. For example, you can talk about a specific social media campaign that required involvement from many different departments. You realized that some of the departments were behind the deadline, so you arranged one-on-one meetings with them. You heard these workers out on how you can help them get the job done on time and scheduled follow-up meetings to check their progress. The project was delivered on time.
Monte Deere, Kizik
Didn’t Let Conflict Indefinitely Stall a Project
A fantastic problem-solving example to use in a job interview is conflict resolution. Tackling disagreements between others whether they include you or not can show off valuable skills that an employer would be interested in. It shows that you are adaptable and have excellent negotiation skills, making yourself that much more attractive as a candidate. Think of any kind of disagreement that could have stalled the progress of work and explain how you went about efficiently addressing everyone’s grievances and how the conflict was ultimately resolved.
Adrien Dissous, Babo Botanicals
Thought Outside of the Box for an Innovative Solution
Refer to a situation where, thanks to thinking out of the box, you were able to come up with a new, innovative solution never used before. Be specific about the problem in question and explain why solving it mattered. Don’t forget to mention how proud you felt once your idea turned out to be successful. The given example covers a wide range of aspects worth noting by potential employers.
Actually, you indirectly show that you are determined, creative, and willing to improve your work environment. An action-driven approach, not standing still, and willingness to find the “ways out” are precious. Therefore, they should be valued and appreciated in all workplaces as the benefits they may bring are universal.
Agata Szczepanek, Resume Now
Used a Competitor’s Mistake as a Learning Opportunity
You don’t have to be an expert to give a generic problem-solving example. Such as, you might explain your approach to a problem by pointing out a mistake made by a competitor and how you would have handled the situation differently. If the same situation occurs at your new company, mention what you learned from the mistake and how you plan to handle it.
Jon Torres, Jon Torres
Sought External Partnership to Address a Budget Crunch
To showcase your problem-solving skills, the best example is about saving money for the organization. You can think of a situation where the lack of funds could drop or decrease the company’s profits. You can start by giving the background about how the lack of funds occurred and how you solved the issue. A typical example can be as simple as a department facing a money crunch due to previous delayed payments.
This is an especially difficult time as new projects often need new and costly pieces of equipment. But the lack of funds resulted in you digging up and finding a collaborative partner for an organization that helped complete the work with minimum investments. A situation like this will make the current recruiter aware of your management skills and dedication to saving money, allowing the organization to prosper.
Nathan Hughes, Art Ignition