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Tell me about a time when you took a creative approach to solving a problem.

1 of 25 Competency Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on June 29th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

The interviewer wants to see that you are capable of creative solutions to everyday problems. Think of a time when you had a fantastic suggestion in the workplace. Employers love to hire candidates who are innovative, and able to implement their ideas. Focus more on your creative approach, rather than the problem itself.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"Our company canceled this year's annual holiday party due to budget cuts. Everyone was disappointed because it's a fun way to get to know your teammates on a different level. I decided to take my team out, on my dime, because it is a significant way to build engagement and excitement. They appreciated the gesture, and I was happy with how well they performed in the weeks to come."

Answer example

"Last week we were all systems down. A complete technical crash! In our office, we have all glass walls, so I made the recommendation that using dry erase markers, we turn our walls into a giant project management board. It worked well, and we ended up keeping the notes on the walls for an extra few days."

Answer example

"I like thinking outside the box. I was once tasked with better tracking our inventory to make sure small parts, like nuts and bolts, were ordered on time and not too early causing a surplus. I spent time counting how many screws were in a full bin vs. avg how many we used per day. I then took a piece of red electrical tape and made a line on the bin that would give us a rough estimate of a week's worth of screws left, enough time to order and receive some more. A simple and free solution."

Answer example

"Black Friday, two years ago, my company at the time launched its new website. I noticed it was going rather haywire when people were trying to place orders, so rather than basking in the glory of a turkey leftover breakfast, I was on the phone with our backup provider in India getting the ordering issues sorted out. Since our website builder is in the US, they were off that day, but knowing that it was just another Friday evening in India, I was able to get the problem resolved and get our orders pushed through."

Answer example

"Creativity is the best way to solve problems. Two associates were having trouble understanding the work that the other one did, and this was impacting the overall group. I pitched that the two individuals switch roles for two weeks to better understand their impact on the organization's success. They both came out of the experience having felt a new appreciation for another's job, and now they are cross-trained too!"

Answer example

"Our sales organization was struggling with the buyers and salespeople. We were supposed to be working collaboratively, but it became a finger pointing battle when a deal would fall apart. I suggested that, instead of having the buyers and salespeople report to different bosses and essentially working against one another, we switch it up to force collaboration. We reorganized the sales teams, so there were pods where a salesperson worked with two buyers, and they were a team. They became experts on the same customers, and their financial targets were tied. Very quickly the attitude shifted in the office, and people were teaching each other and learning from one another rather than pointing and placing blame."

Answer example

"I have a student mainstreamed for only Spanish and no other specials. He doesn't have an aide for it, either, and while he's very good at language, following all classroom instructions isn't easy for him without one on one instruction. So rather than let him flounder, I made him my assistant. I was able to give him one on one instruction, he got to be a special helper by passing out papers or organizing students, felt like a million bucks, and was super engaged in the lesson every single day."

Event Planner
Answer example

"The budget for our work Christmas party was very small. I looked at all of the different pieces involved, including venue, food, music and decorations, considering our staff size and their requests. Next I looked within my network of connections that could give us discounts or sometimes even things for free. I was able to get the catering done for half price because of my friend who works at Whole Foods, and stayed within the budget overall because I used connections and did cross-promotion for other companies and individuals."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 08/10/2016
Last modified on: 06/29/2018

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