Problem-solving Interview Questions

Use the below-given problem-solving interview questions to find out how candidates approach challenging situations and if they can suggest effective solutions.

Why should you ask problem-solving interview questions to candidates?

Employees face challenges in their job. During the interview assess how candidates approach complex situations. Problem-solving interview questions help in knowing how candidates:

  • React when their views are challenged
  • Perform under unexpected and stressful situations
  • Analyze data to know the root-cause of the problem
  • Approach complicated issues

Look for candidates who are result-oriented by asking questions that test problem-solving skills. Look for spherical and analytical thinkers who have knowledge of solving technical problems. Candidates who recognize a problem or predict what could occur should be given a preference. Candidates should also reveal how they would fix the problem, and prevent it from occurring again.

You can ask the below-given problem-solving interview question to all the candidates, irrespective of the role, seniority level or industry. These questions will allow you to check your candidates’ way of thinking in complex situations.

Problem-solving interview questions

  • How do you decide when to solve an issue on your own and when to seek help?
  • A new project you are working on has huge revenue potential, but could put the company in serious problems. What would be your approach?
  • Do you have any experience in using crisis-management skills?
  • Share about a time when you faced difficulties in completing your task efficiently. What were the issues and how did you overcome them?
  • Tell me about a time you found and fixed a problem before it became serious.
  • Tell me about a time you solved a problem without any senior’s help. How did you do it and what was the result?

Tips to assess problem-solving skills in interviews

  • If you are recruiting for a technical profile, ask technical problem-solving questions, like “How do you setup a server?” This will help you know how effectively the candidate can solve problems on the job.
  • Most complicated situations need a team effort. Look for team players when interviewing candidates.
  • During difficult times, employees should show a can-do attitude and commitment. Check candidates’ problem-solving skills in previous roles. If they were focused to find the best solutions, they will be great additions to your team.
  • Look for candidates who give innovative solutions. Creative thinkers can bring fresh ideas that add value to the company.
  • See how candidates approach an issue step-by-step: from determining and analyzing the problem to comparing choices and choosing the best solution.
  • During interviews, use hypothetical scenarios that are expected to happen in the office. Avoid unrealistic issues that are not relevant to the profile.

Red Flags

  • Cover up the issue or hide its seriousness: An unaddressed problem could easily become more severe and tense. Employees who leave things for later might not be engaged or result-oriented in their jobs.
  • Feeling uncomfortable/stressed: Many candidates feel uncomfortable and nervous during the interview but if they are so tensed that they can’t answer your question, that is a sign they can’t handle stressful situations skillfully.
  • Focus on the problem, rather than finding a solution: Identifying the problem is important, but finding the solution is even more important. Candidates who focus too much on the issue may be too negative for the role.
  • Conserved answers: A typical answer like “I have experience of dealing with angry clients and I know what to tell them to make them understand the situation,” don’t tell a lot about the candidate’s thought process. Ask follow-up questions to know more details.
  • Ambiguous answer: If a candidate fails to share about the challenges or problems they faced in previous positions, that is a sign they may avoid dealing with complex situations.