Top 20 Problem Solving Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

When candidates prepare for interviews, they normally focus on highlighting their leadership, communication, teamwork, and alike crucial delicate skills. however, not everyone gets ready for problem-solving interview questions. And that can be a big mistake .
Problem-solving is relevant to closely any job on the planet. Yes, it ’ second more prevailing in certain industries, but it ’ mho helpful about everywhere .
careless of the function you want to land, you may be asked to provide problem-solving examples or describe how you would deal with specific situations. That ’ mho why being cook to showcase your problem-solving skills is thus critical .
If you aren ’ thymine certain who to tackle problem-solving questions, wear ’ thymine concern, we have your back. Come with us as we explore this stimulate partially of the interview process, angstrom well as some problem-solving interview questions and case answers.

What Is Problem-Solving?

When you ’ re trying to land a position, there ’ s a adept prospect you ’ ll confront some problem-solving interview questions. But what precisely is problem-solving ? And why is it so authoritative to hiring managers ?
well, the good folks at Merriam-Webster specify problem-solving as “ the process or act of finding a solution to a problem. ” While that may seem like common feel, there ’ s a critical function to that definition that should catch your eye .
What character is that ? The word “process.”
In the end, problem-solving is an activity. It’s your ability to take appropriate steps to find answers, determine how to proceed, or otherwise overcome the challenge.
Being great at it normally means having a range of helpful problem-solving skills and traits. Research, application, patience, attention-to-detail, collaboration… they can all play a role. So can analytic think, creativity, and open-mindedness .
But why do hiring managers worry about your problem-solving skills ? Well, chiefly, because every job comes with its fairly share of problems .
While problem-solving is relevant to scientific, technical foul, legal, aesculapian, and a unharmed murder of early careers. It helps you overcome challenges and batch with the unexpected. It plays a role in troubleshooting and initiation. That ’ sulfur why it matters to hiring managers .

How to Answer Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Okay, before we get to our examples, let ’ s take a flying second to talk about scheme. Knowing how to answer problem-solving interview questions is crucial. Why ? Because the rent coach might ask you something that you don ’ thymine anticipate .
Problem-solving interview questions are all about seeing how you think. As a leave, they can be a bit… unconventional .
These aren ’ t your run-of-the-mill job interview questions. rather, they are crafty behavioral interview questions. After all, the goal is to find out how you approach problem-solving, so most are going to feature scenarios, brainteasers, or something exchangeable .
so, having a big scheme means knowing how to deal with behavioral questions. fortunately, there are a match of tools that can help .
first, when it comes to the classical access to behavioral interview questions, look no further than the STAR Method. With the STAR method, you learn how to turn your answers into captivating stories. This makes your responses tons more prosecute, ensuring you keep the lease director ’ sulfur attention from beginning to end .
immediately, should you stop with the STAR Method ? Of course not. If you want to take your answers to the adjacent level, spend some time with the Tailoring Method, besides .
With the Tailoring Method, it ’ south all about relevance. so, if you get a gamble to choose an exercise that demonstrates your problem-solving skills, this is actually the way to go .

Top 3 Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

Alright, here is what you ’ ve been waiting for : the problem-solving questions and sample answers .
While many questions in this category are job-specific, these tend to apply to about any speculate. That means there ’ s a dear chance you ’ ll come across them at some point in your career, making them a bang-up starting point when you ’ re practice for an interview .
therefore, let ’ s prima donna in, shall we ? here ’ s a expect at the top three problem-solving interview questions and example responses .

1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a challenging problem?

In the nation of problem-solving questions, this one might be your best-case scenario. It lets you choose your own problem-solving examples to highlight, putting you in complete control .
When you choose an exemplar, go with one that is relevant to what you ’ ll face in the function. The closer the match, the better the answer is in the eyes of the rent director .

“ While working as a mobile telecommunication support specialist for a boastfully organization, we had to transition our MDM military service from one seller to another within 45 days. This personally physically handling 500 devices within the means. Devices had to be gathered from the headquarters and satellite offices, which were located all across the state of matter, something that was challenging even without the tight deadline. I approached the site by identifying the localization assignment of all personnel within the organization, enabling me to estimate transportation system times for receiving the devices. following, I timed out how many devices I could personally update in a day. together, this allowed me to create a general timeline. After that, I coordinated with each placement, both expressing the importunity of adhering to deadlines and scheduling bulk transportation options. While there were occasional bouts of resistance, I worked with localization leaders to calm concerns and facilitate action. While performing all of the updates was daunting, my border on to organizing the event made it a achiever. ultimately, the integral transition was finished five days before the deadline, exceeding the expectations of many. ”

MIKE’S TIP: When you ’ re answering this question, quantify the details. This gives your answer critical context and scale, showcasing the degree of challenge and strength of the skill. That means, your answer is powerful, compelling, and, above all, thorough .

2. Describe a time where you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?

While this might not look like it ’ s based on problem-solving on the coat, it actually is. When you make a mistake, it creates a challenge, one you have to work your way through. At a minimum, it ’ s an opportunity to highlight problem-solving skills, flush if you don ’ thyroxine address the subject immediately .
When you choose an exemplar, you want to go with a situation where the end was cocksure. however, the issue inactive has to be significant, causing something negative to happen in the here and now that you, ideally, get the best .

“ When I first began in a supervisory character, I had trouble setting down my individual contributor hat. I tried to keep up with my past duties while besides taking on the responsibilities of my newfangled character. As a result, I began rushing and introduced an error into the code of the software my team was updating. The mistake led to a memory leak. We became mindful of the offspring when the operation was hindered, though we didn ’ metric ton immediately know the cause. I dove back into the code, reviewing late changes, and, ultimately, determined the issue was a mistake on my end. When I made that discovery, I took several steps. First, I let my team know that the error was mine and let them know its nature. Second, I worked with my team to correct the consequence, resolving the memory leak. last, I took this as a lesson about delegating. I began assigning ferment to my team more efficaciously, a move that allowed me to excel as a director and help them thrive as contributors. It was a all-important learning moment, one that I have valued every day since. ”

3. If you identify a potential risk in a project, what steps do you take to prevent it?

Yes, this is besides a problem-solving interrogate. The difference is, with this one, it ’ s not about fixing an issue ; it ’ south about stopping it from happening. still, you use problem-solving skills along the way, so it falls in this interrogate class .
If you can, use an exemplar of a moment when you mitigated risk in the past. If you haven ’ thymine had that opportunity, overture it theoretically, discussing the steps you would take to prevent an return from developing .

“ If I identify a potential gamble in a stick out, my first base step is to assess the respective factors that could lead to a poor consequence. prevention requires psychoanalysis. Ensuring I amply understand what can trigger the undesired event creates the right foundation, allowing me to figure out how to reduce the likelihood of those events occurring. once I have the correct level of agreement, I come up with a moderation design. precisely what this includes varies depending on the nature of the publish, though it normally involves assorted steps and checks designed to monitor the project as it progresses to spot paths that may make the problem more probably to happen. I find this approach effective as it combines cognition and ongoing watchfulness. That way, if the project begins to head into hazardous territory, I can correct its trajectory. ”

17 More Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

In the worldly concern of problem-solving questions, some apply to a wide range of jobs, while others are more niche. For example, customer serve reps and IT help desk professionals both meet challenges, but not normally the like kind .
As a leave, some of the questions in this list may be more relevant to certain careers than others. however, they all give you insights into what this kind of question looks like, making them worth reviewing .
here are 17 more problem-solving interview questions you might face off against during your job search :

    1. How would you describe your problem-solving skills?
    2. Can you tell me about a time when you had to use creativity to deal with an obstacle?
    3. Describe a time when you discovered an unmet customer need while assisting a customer and found a way to meet it.
    4. If you were faced with an upset customer, how would you diffuse the situation?
    5. Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a complex issue.
    6. Imagine you were overseeing a project and needed a particular item. You have two choices of vendors: one that can deliver on time but would be over budget, and one that’s under budget but would deliver one week later than you need it. How do you figure out which approach to use?
    7. Your manager wants to upgrade a tool you regularly use for your job and wants your recommendation. How do you formulate one?
    8. A supplier has said that an item you need for a project isn’t going to be delivered as scheduled, something that would cause your project to fall behind schedule. What do you do to try and keep the timeline on target?
    9. Can you share an example of a moment where you encountered a unique problem you and your colleagues had never seen before? How did you figure out what to do?
    10. Imagine you were scheduled to give a presentation with a colleague, and your colleague called in sick right before it was set to begin. What would you do?
    11. If you are given two urgent tasks from different members of the leadership team, both with the same tight deadline, how do you choose which to tackle first?
    12. Tell me about a time you and a colleague didn’t see eye-to-eye. How did you decide what to do?
    13. Describe your troubleshooting process.
    14. Tell me about a time where there was a problem that you weren’t able to solve. What happened?
    15. In your opening, what skills or traits make a person an exceptional problem-solver?
    16. When you face a problem that requires action, do you usually jump in or take a moment to carefully assess the situation?
    17. When you encounter a new problem you’ve never seen before, what is the first step that you take?

Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to approach problem-solving consultation questions. Use the tips above to your advantage. That way, you can thrive during your adjacent interview .
beneficial fortune !


Co-Founder and CEO


Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a subcontract interview and career expert and the fountainhead writer at

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more adenine well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others .
Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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