How Can You Show Your Problem-Solving Skills in an Interview?

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One of the qualities that employers look for in job candidates is the ability to problem solve. In fact, a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers noted that problem-solving skills are the No. 1 attribute that employers seek. If you have great problem-solving skills, you might have an edge over your competition. But the problem is—how do you show off those skills during a job interview? These tips can help.

Common Interview Questions

Employers will ask questions to determine what your skill set, knowledge, and personality are like so they can decide if you’d be a good fit to the job. They often ask if you can demonstrate a time when your problem-solving skills were put to the test. Examples of these types of questions include:

  • Describe a time when a project didn’t turn out according to plan. How did you handle it?
  • If a manager were to ask for your recommendation on tools or equipment, how would you respond?
  • If a customer gets angry, how would you communicate with them?

There are many different types of situational and behavioral questions that help you show off your problem-solving skills. But you need to pull from real-world examples even if the job you’re going for isn’t the kind you currently have.

Problem Solving When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

For the first situation, think of a time when something went wrong and you were able to put it right. Make sure to explain the lessons you learned along the way, including feedback you gave and got. As you solve problems, you also demonstrate your ability to grow and evolve.

Problem Solving When You’re Tasked with Finding New Tools

Regardless of your job, you might be asked to help make things run more efficiently. When you look for new software, vendors, tools, and equipment, you show that you know how to conduct research, measure pros and cons, and come to a conclusion.

Problem Solving When Customers are Involved

Dealing with angry customers is never easy, but there isn’t a business out there that doesn’t have them. And you’ve probably met a few! How did you calm them down and help satisfy their needs? Give an example that turned that customer’s frown into a happy smile.

Show That You’re a Team Player

Even if you’re not asked, it’s always good to bring up times you solved a problem or helped others. Maybe you’re good with computers and you help coworkers when theirs are glitchy. Or maybe you helped a coworker figure out how to use a new tool. When you can show that you not only solved a problem but did it in collaboration with someone else, you show that you’re a team player.

Show Them How You Adapt

Sometimes interviewers ask what your strengths are. This is a great opportunity to say that you are a strong problem-solver and that you adapt well to change, can handle the unexpected, and do well under pressure. Provide an example to support your claim.

Choose Examples That Are Relevant to the Job

Regardless of the roles you’ve had, try to relate to the job you want. For example, if you want to be a Medical Assistant, pull examples from your externship or other interactions you may have had with patients. If you’re applying for a trade position, like HVAC, use an example that shows how you fixed an issue with an AC unit or piece of equipment. The more relevant the example is, the more the hiring manager will want you.

Walk Them Through Your Process

You don’t need to give long, detailed examples, but you do want to explain what the problem was, what your thought process was, and what steps you took to remedy the situation. If you don’t provide enough detail, you might miss the opportunity to show the employer what you’re made of.

At Charter College, you’ll be able to hone your problem-solving skills while you prepare for a new career path. We offer training programs in Business, Health Care, Information Technology, and the Trades. For more information, contact 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.