Use these problem-solving interview questions to figure out how candidates deal with difficult situations and provide the best solutions.

Why problem-solving matters

Challenges are a part of work life that help us grow 🌷 —as long as we know how to deal with them. 

That’s why you need to figure out how good your candidate is at problem-solving from day one.

Figuring this out at interview can help you learn how your candidate:

  • Approaches challenges
  • Uses metrics to drill down to the root of a problem
  • Performs in difficult situations
  • Reacts to personal challenges

The perfect candidates will be results-oriented, analytical and spherical thinkers, stand out for their ability to recognize/predict a problem, and will know how to fix an issue to prevent it from recurring. 

These problem-solving interview questions can be used anytime, anywhere and for any candidate level.  

Problem-solving interview questions

  • Have you ever had to solve a problem alone? How did it work out for you?
  • Give us an example of when you’ve predicted a problem and solved it before it became urgent.
  • Describe a situation where you faced serious challenges in doing your job to the awesome level you’re used to. How did you overcome it?
  • Tell us about a time you successfully used crisis-management skills.
  • How would you balance a project that had multiple priorities?
  • When do you know it’s time to reach out for help?

Top tip: Always use hypothetical scenarios related to the role and avoid unrealistic, irrelevant problems.

Candidates to look for

  • Logical processes: How do candidates approach a problem step-by-step? They should tell you how they identify, analyze and solve the issue.
  • Innovative candidates: Creative minds rule. They offer fresh perspectives and add value to your company.
  • Commitment and can-do attitudes: Listen out for problem-solving skills in past situations. Were they determined to find the best solution ASAP?
  • Great team players: How have they collaborated with their previous colleagues? Do they feel comfortable asking for help? 
  • Technical skills: Tech roles need specific tech problem-solving skills. Ask questions relevant to the work your future hires will do. 

Candidates to avoid

  • Silent candidates: If a candidate can’t perform in an interview, it’s unlikely they can perform in another difficult situation.
  • Generic answers: When it comes to problem-solving, you need to know detail. Ask follow-up questions to get more insight.
  • Problem-focused: You need a candidate who focuses on solutions over problems. They need to identify the problem and then move on. 
  • Stressed or uncomfortable candidates: Interviews are hard. But, if candidates are so stressed they can’t find an answer, that just proves they don’t handle stressful situations well.

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