Why is Problem Solving an Important Competency

  • By
  • December 28, 2019
  • Personality Development
Why is Problem Solving an Important Competency

Why is Problem Solving an Important Competency?

There are ample of definitions of problem-solving – but at a ground level, the focal point is on the ability to precisely gauge a situation and arrive at a positive solution.

Solving problems is a skill that requires a lot of analysis hence, many employers look for the same whilst scanning the candidate’s application form. This distant skill is not restricted to an individual sector, industry or role, though employers in the engineering and legal corporations, in particular, they tend to look for proficiency. Thereupon, questions about your problem-solving ability are customary in interviews.

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Substantial problem-solving skills can provide humongous benefits for your career. In every field, problems are inevitable and will appear in one form or another as you go about your day-to-day duties. When problems do occur, employees are expected to utilize their initiative and develop applicable solutions to avert the situation escalating into something more serious.

What types of Problems Typically Emerges in a Professional Framework?

There are circumstances where problems could be existing every now and then in the workplace, from a client requirement through to providing assistance to a technical team or be it resolving a website or database error. The concerns that you come across will often vary in complexity, with some circumstances requiring a simplistic solution and others obliging more care and skill to succeed.

Business managers will contribute a part of their time solving problems and consequently expect their employees to be creative and spontaneous when it comes to directing them. Being confident in your approach is really necessary, and as you discover which methods are most efficient to overcome barriers, your confidence will also develop. Without proper methods in place, your solutions may collapse or they could even create further problems.

A good problem-solving process includes four fundamental stages:

  • Defining the problem
  • Devising alternatives
  • Evaluating alternatives
  • Implementing the most suitable solutions


Managers are viewing for recruits who can be productive and intuitive when it comes to addressing business problems.

What are some Problem-Solving Questions?

Queries about problem-solving will typically appear within a competency-based interview and will expect you to illustrate your particular approach.


It can be asked in a series of different forms, but some common examples of problem-solving are:

  • How do you resolve problems?
  • Give an instance of a problem you have faced in the past, either as part of a company or as an individual. How did you solve the problem?
  • What do you do when you can’t resolve a problem?

How to Explain Problem Solving Questions?

If you know that you are expected to handle problem-solving questions in the application process, it’s a great practice to examine the usual questions and outlines that applicants are presented with. This will not only enhance your confidence but also help you to clarify your answers and present a more substantial reply.

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In this section, I will provide two examples of general questions and suitable responses:

Question 1: You have been asked to schedule in a rush project but you are unable to finish the piece of work you need to since you need information from another co-worker who is not currently available. What would you do in this situation?

Answer: The fittest option here would be to reassess the situation. Are there any other factors of the project that you can proceed with until your co-worker returns? If this isn’t an alternative, you should search every avenue to attempt and reach them or someone in their team who could assist.

Question 2: You are working on a project and midway through you recognize that you have made a notable error that might require you to restart the project to resolve it. How would you address this so you still meet the deadline?

Answer: Pause what you are doing and assess the mistake. Is it meager enough to fix without taking too much time? If so, solve the mistake and move on. Alternatively, if there is no other choice than to rework the project (which may affect on adhering the deadline), the prime thing to do is inform your supervisor. You may require to reschedule your day or work longer to complete the project and meet the deadline.

Why are Employers Interested in Inquiring about your Problem-Solving Skills?

Effective problem solving requires a blend of creative thinking and logical skills. Employers look for hires who can demonstrate each of these skills in the workplace to achieve positive outcomes.

Managers would considerably employ a member of staff who can take effort to fix a difficulty than someone who doesn’t act and relies on someone else to think of a solution. Even if it isn’t described as a necessity in a job description, many employers will still be assessing your problem-solving ability during the application process.

Practical problem solvers are those who can apply thought and insight to make sense of the circumstance and state a solution that works. Even if it doesn’t prove as prosperous as you had anticipated, flexibility is important, so you can reassess the situation and try an option.

What Application do Problem Solving Questions Take?

If problem-solving skills are an indispensable part of your role, it is likely that you will have to build some kind of assessment during the application process. There are a number of applications that a problem-solving question can take, but the majority of them will be scenario-based.

Employers may locate problem-solving questions around three main areas:

  • How you have addressed circumstances in the past
  • How you would handle a problem that would occur as part of the job
  • How you handle problems during the application process

Some employers check that the way you addressed a situation in the past is a good symbol of how you will address a challenging situation in the near future. Consequently, the most reliable way to learn how someone would counter to a particular situation is to request a question such as ‘explain an instant when…’

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As the employer wants to evaluate your problem-solving skills, they may direct you to outline a situation where something went wrong and what resulted. This could be an example of a time when you encountered something unexpected, or you were overtaken by a client about a business matter.

Managers will often recite one or more issues to the role you are applying for. Sometimes this may take the form of a question about what the candidate would do if they had too much or too little activity to achieve.

Do’s of Problem Solving:

  • Choose a strong example that truly strengthens your problem-solving experience in a positive practice
  • Choose examples which are applicable to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a project-based area, give an example of how you fixed a problem with work or educational projects.
  • Be precise with your acknowledgments and provide enough detail to give an example of how you approach situations and the way you think Think through possible answers and scenarios before the interview.
  • Make sure the problem is uncommon. If you have a problem, solely calling someone else to solve it is not convincing. The best answers will show customized solutions to tasks that may seem ordinary.
  • Make sure the problem is manageable. If you have shifted from a legal career to an engineering career and your problem is legal in nature, assure your problem is easy to interpret and explain it to your interviewer without using dialect.

Don’ts of Problem Solving:

  • Don’t choose a weak or monotonous problem or one that reflects you in a derogatory way.
  • Don’t generalize your explanation with feedback such as ‘you acknowledge yourself to be a great problem solver’ or ‘you solve problems on a regular basis’. You need to elaborate how you resolve an issue effectively.
  • Don’t suggest any areas of concern by giving examples of contradictory events that were a consequence of your own actions, even if you solved a problem, fortunately.
  • No matter how engaging the story that you have to mention is, don’t spend too much time administering too much detail, because the recruiter will soon get bugged. Keep your answer quick and to the point.

How to Validate Problem Solving in Your CV or Cover Letter

Throughout your written application and at the interview, employers will require you to evidence your problem-solving skills. In your written application you should show them via appropriate keywords, descriptions, and achievements. If you solved a problem, and it had a positive influence on the business – such as enhanced customer service measures or resource savings – mention that on your CV.

When you are called for an interview always try to inculcate the STAR technique to structure your answers. This method focuses your replies on a Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Amending this process will improve your answers and ensure your answers are focused, concise and strong.

Where problem-solving is a vital component of your role, an employer may incorporate a suitable psychometric test and or an activity to thoroughly evaluate your problem-solving skills.


Smrutika Dalvi

Name: Smurtika Dalvi
Designation: Soft-skills Trainer
Sevenmentor Pvt Ltd

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