Four Interview Questions to Ask About a Candidate’s Problem-Solving Skills


Deciding what type of questions to ask a candidate during a job interview can be a challenge. You only get a few chances to meet the person — or maybe even one — before making a hiring decision, so you need to ask pointed questions that reveal their true character.

Including a few problem-solving questions is essential, because you want to know the candidate will step up when the going gets a little rough. Gauge each candidate’s problem solving skills by posing these four questions.

  1. Explain a situation where you found a creative solution to a problem.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so you need a quick thinker who is willing to improvise when things don’t go as planned. This question allows you to learn how well the candidate can handle pressure and the lengths they’re prepared to go to make things work in a less-than-desirable situation. If the person seems confused by this question or has no response, they probably don’t have what it takes to succeed on your team.

  1. How have you handled working with a difficult client or colleague in the past?

In a perfect world, all team members would get along and every client would be pleasant, but unfortunately things don’t always go that way. It’s important to know the candidate is mature enough to check their ego when dealing with a difficult person, because it’s bound to happen at least a time or two while working at your — or any — company. This question allows you to determine whether the contender has the ability to put their personal opinions aside to act in the best interest of the company.

  1. Describe a time you went above and beyond what was asked of you to get the job done.

You want to hire someone whose work isn’t complete until the job is done right. Find out if the candidate is satisfied with “good enough” or if they’re the type of person who is driven to exceed expectations. Gaining insights on the candidate’s past performance — and what they consider going above and beyond — can help you decide if they’re dedicated enough to become a valuable asset to your team.

  1. Tell me how you would solve this (specific job-related) problem.

There’s no guaranteed way to ensure a person will excel at your company if hired, but asking them to solve problems they may face on the job if hired, is a great way to gauge their fit. For example, you could ask an IT support candidate how they would solve a specific bug or a potential administrative assistant how to stretch office supplies on a tight budget. Their response should help you decide if they have the skill set you need.

Need a little help finding the very best person for the job? Partner with Barrington Staffing. We provide temp staffing and recruitment services in The San Fernando Valley, Burbank, Thousand Oaks, The Santa Clarita Valley, West Los Angeles, and the surrounding areas.

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