Competency Interview Questions on Problem Solving
As today’s market place is dominated by uncertainty, employers are placing an increasingly high value on a candidate’s ability to problem solve, show sound judgement and make quick decisions.
What interview questions can I expect?
The following are examples of “problem solving” competency questions:
- Describe a difficult problem you had to solve in your last job.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Tell me about a time when you had to analyse information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? What was your reasoning behind your decision?
- Describe a time when you had to analyse a problem and generate a solution.
How do I answer competency interview questions on problem solving?
In these questions an employer is looking for your ability to gather and organise all relevant information, to identify cause-effect relationships and to come up with appropriate solutions.
It is helpful to structure your answer as follows:
- Define the problem
- Explain how you analysed it and broke it down
- Show you decided on the best solution
- Describe how you implemented the solution and outline the outcome
- Show how you considered the impact on wider stakeholders
Define the Problem
Describe the problem. What made it a problem? What did the problem involve?
Analyse the Problem
Show how you collected the information and analysed it to look for possible causes. Consider quantitative and qualitative methods. Then describe how you looked for links between the causes, and analysed these “groups of causes” to come up with possible solutions.
Generating Possible Solutions
Describe how you generated a number of possible solutions. Talk about what results you expected to achieve and the risks involved in each course of action. Which solution did you opt for and why?
Consider Impact on Wider Stakeholders
Show how you considered the consequences of your decision on other departments and its wider impact on a range of stakeholders. Highlight how you engaged with stakeholders to get their buy in.
Discuss how you implemented the solution and what you achieved. Highlight what you learnt from that experience.
Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method when answering your questions – this will provide you with a nice framework for your answer and will help keep your response focused and concise. For more information on this look at my article on competency questions
About the Author
Laura McGrath is a qualified executive coach, EMCC Certified with over 20 years’ experience in executive search and recruitment. She’s the owner of Interview Techniques, a leading provider of interview and career coaching services and has been a guest lecturer with Trinity College Dublin and TU Dublin. She has sat on Public Sector Interview Boards and has been trained by PAS. For a consultation, please call 087 669 1192 or go to https://interviewtechniques.ie/contact/