13 Interview Questions on problem solving [FREE download]

These are real world Problem Solving Job Interview Questions asked by employers. They focus on assessing how good you are at problem solving. Use these questions to prepare for your next job interview!

Problem solving is a vital skill for most if not all careers. The ability to investigate the source of a problem and identify the most appropriate solution is a skill that most of us use daily. For example:
  • An electrian who needs fix a failed lighting circuit
  • A cable person who needs to find the reason for and fix poor TV reception
  • IT executives who need to find the best solutions to solve their customer's problems
  • An administrator who needs to quickly fix a broken printer
  • A mechanic faced with a roadside repair
  • A manager who needs to turnaround a under-performing sales team
  • A CEO who needs more customers
  • A General Practitioner (Doctor) who needs to diagnose a patient in just a few mins
Because it is so important most job interviewers will ask you to demonstrate how you have used your problem solving skills. The questions combined with the STAR interview model will help you prepare.

These questions are great way to prepare for interviews because they use a very common model of interview questioning called the competency model.

Job interview - with problem solving tagline

Problem Solving interview questions

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  1. Describe a situation in which you analysed complex data and solved a difficult technical problem.
  2. Describe a technical or personal problem you solved in your last job.
  3. What do you do when confronted with a complex problem? What are the most important steps you take? Why?
  4. What problems do you foresee in your current position in the next two years?
  5. Describe a time when your work required you to quickly learn a new system, task, or process. What did you do?
  6. How would your manager describe your ability to grasp new concepts or learn new tasks?
  7. What do you do when you have to learn a lot of new things in your job?
  8. What would your peers and managers say about how perceptive you are?
  9. Sooner or later everybody makes mistakes. What was the most significant mistake you made on your last job and explain why you made it? What do you learn from it?
  10. What have been major obstacles that you have had to overcome on a past project? How did you deal with them?
  11. Tell me about a time when you had a sense about something that wasn't obvious to others at the time, yet ultimately was confirmed to be true.
  12. Give me an example of one of the most challenging problems you have ever had to solve on the job?
  13. Tell me about a problem that you failed to solve? What was it and why couldn't you solve it?
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Competency based interview questions

Competency focused questions are designed to help draw out a person's experience by asking for examples of when they have performed a function or have shown that they have a skill/competency. This style of questioning is popular because it is more likely to draw out whether a person has the competencies to perform a role.

Models that used closed questions like 'tell me what x means' tend to exclude younger or less experienced candidates and won't necessarily identify a person who has the right competence - experience of x doesn't mean you were good at x.

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