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Creative Thinking Interview
Questions

15 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 15

What is the most creative or innovative project you have worked on?

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Creative Thinking Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    What is the most creative or innovative project you have worked on?

      We all have the opportunity to perform a creative task, whether we realize it or not. Perhaps you were a receptionist at our previous job, and you creatively organized the company's front desk by using color-coded folders. If you were an accountant, talk about how you restructured the workflow for a client and how it saved you hours of work on their audit.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My previous employer wanted to think of ways to generate more attention online and gather a stronger following and more brand recognition. I started an e-newsletter that, after just six months, had over 30,000 subscribers. It was a great success."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I once worked in an office where a primary goal was to reduce our environmental footprint. It was a lot of fun to find new ways to help the environment, and we ended up cutting some costs as well."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "The most creative project I have worked on was to assist the Senior ME in my department with the layout design for a new product line."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This answer is a good start! Do you have any more detail to add to bring this project to life for the interviewer?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (1)
  2. 2.

    Tell me about a time when you created a unique idea or solution, and it was rejected by your colleagues. How were you able to bounce back?

      The interviewer would like to know how you handle rejection when you present a solution at work. Putting yourself out there with new ideas can be intimidating, and we all want to be accepted. Talk to the interviewer about how you would handle the feelings that come with having your opinion rejected.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "A couple of years ago I made a recommendation for scheduling that would have included some split shifts. The result was less overtime and reduced expenses for the company. My colleagues were unhappy with the idea of split shifts. I was able to see their perspective which made it much easier to bounce back from the rejection. My overall attitude is, you win some - you lose some!"

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I recently asked my boss if we could implement a couple of workplace planning tools that would make it easier for myself to connect with the cross-departmental teams. I was already familiar with the tool, from using in a previous role. However, my boss prefers to run the business very lean and does not want to spend any money. It was unfortunate, but I understand that some people simply like things how they are."

      View answer examples for this question >

  3. 3.

    When have you had to think outside of the box to solve a problem?

      Talk to the interviewer about a time you had to solve a problem creatively. Your answer doesn't have to be an invention or a tremendous break-through you made in your previous role. Any unexpected decision you made will most likely count as a creative solution. Pick a scenario where you were pleased with the outcome.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In my current position we saw a decrease in clients due to a local economic downturn. I recommended to our head office that we begin to generate business outside of our region for the first time in many years. They agreed, and the idea turned things around for us that fiscal year."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Last week my computer crashed, and it took IT three hours to recover everything. Feeling lost, I said to myself 'Well, what did they do before computers?' To make the best of my time, I took to the file room and started organizing the physical files."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "Thinking outside the box is a default in any technology field, and I have had such an opportunity at my last workplace. The organization had limited resources to spend on user tests, so we could not hire a user recruiter agency. My team and I started reaching out to users on LinkedIn and offered our time in exchange for their time for testing a product. It worked so wonderfully that now we have an active user testing community."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a fantastic idea, and what a great way to save on resources while also building up a community. Well done.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (3) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Recently the VA in northern Indiana changed the rules on # of shoes to one pair per year. It caused a drop in # of patients in the clinic. I thought it would be beneficial to try to do some marketing to pain doctors, ER doctors, and other clinicians working in CBOCs. And that caused the # of orthotics patients to increase."

      Mary's Answer

      This response shows initiative in attracting new customers- something important to businesses. See edits for clarity.

      "Recently, the VA in northern Indiana saw a drop in the number of clinic patients because of a change in policy that allowed only one pair of shoes to be provided (a decrease from the prior policy). I saw the need to increase marketing, so worked to connect with local pain doctors, ER doctors and other clinicians working in CBOC's. As a result of this marketing, we saw the patient numbers increased."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)
  4. 4.

    When have you taken an existing process and used your own creativity to make it better?

      Are you given the creative freedom to improve existing processes? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to take an existing process and develop it creatively. If you do not have a work-related example, think back to your time in school.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Last month my supervisor asked me to take our existing sales training package and improve it. My goal was to make the system more engaging for recruits. Once we implemented my ideas, we increased our new trainee retention rate by 16%. I was quite proud of what my creativity could do!"

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I do not go into a position looking to make changes for the sake of change but, as an executive assistant, I do monitor processes and look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Recently I switched us to Google calendar so that we could more easily share our time and availability. It was a small tweak, but it changed the game for the executive and me."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "When I started managing the Marion clinic, there was a minimal count of inventory of braces and or off the shelf items. I did encourage the chief to authorize more items to be shelved to be dispensed as oppose to waiting at least four weeks for the item to arrive and be fitted following filling the consults. After some resistance from the chief, I was able to convince him to stock up the shelves, and it worked out great."

      Mary's Answer

      Great response! Consider adding how the creativity influenced results, like patient satisfaction. See below for edits.

      "When I began managing the Marion clinic, I noticed that patients were often required to wait long periods to receive their braces because of limited inventory count. I encouraged the chief to authorize an increase in items to be shelved, in order to reduce the wait time for patients to be fitted after their consults. His initial reluctance was eliminated after the stocked shelves and reduced wait times (i.e.: 4 weeks down to 3 days) resulted in improved patient satisfaction."

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  5. 5.

    Outside of work, what type of creative activities do you like to pursue?

      The interviewer would like to know how you express your creativity, outside of the workplace. A genuinely creative minded person will have outside activities aside from what's happening in the workplace. Tell the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you express your creativity.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Outside of work I like to attend dance classes and I also attend the odd paint and sip wine nights at a local wine shop. I also enjoy reading as a way of nurturing my creative side."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "As an avid reader, I also explore writing. Cooking is also art for me, and I try to incorporate creativity into the fun meals I prepare for family and friends."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "Some years ago, due to exercise injuries, I was encouraged to take yoga classes. Over a period of time, I was motivated to be a certified yoga instructor which did help improve my leadership skills in a group setting. It did bring me out of my comfort zone and became more extrovert."

      Mary's Answer

      This is a great example of how an outside activity has influenced you in a professional setting. Great response!

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  6. 6.

    When have you created a new product or service?

      Using your creative mind, have you ever introduced an employer to a new product or service opportunity? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have created a new product or service. If you have not created a new product or service, perhaps you have had a great idea that you presented. You can use an example from school as well if you have just started your career.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In my previous role I was fortunate enough to introduce my company to the idea of a gold level service where, in addition to our general customer service, we added on additional options. Our customer base responded very positively, and we kept the program running for a few years."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am newer to my career as an administrative assistant and have not yet found myself comfortable enough to offer a new service idea. I am creative minded, though! As an avid nature lover and lover of cooking, I was tired of carrying all of my cooking tools and equipment in and out of camping sites. I created a Camping Kitchen Kit to hold cooking and serving for up to six people. It is an easy to carry bag that makes life much easier!"

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "When I moved to the new location, The fitting appointments had to be made after the item arrived. On my arrival I changed that procedure so that patients would get a fitting appointment before the end of evaluation appointments. As a result, patients were serviced and fitted much sooner, with 4-5 weeks as opposed to nearly previously routine 7-8 weeks. Our vendors understand that we are working on three weeks turn-around period."

      Mary's Answer

      Great response! Clearly articulating the results (reduction in timeline) is important for interviewers to understand your accomplishments.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  7. 7.

    Would you consider yourself a creative person?

      Talk to the interviewer about any interest that you have in creative activities and how you have implemented your creative desires in the workplace. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a 'creative person,' there is a significant change that you have made creative minded decisions in your career.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I do consider myself to be a creative individual. One example of this would be the telephone sales scripts that I crafted for our inside sales team. They were lively and effective, and sales increased by 23% in the first 90 days of implementation."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am someone who alternates back and forth with the right/left brain, but I will always consider myself a very creative person. I admire the creativity and unconventional thinking in business and arts."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "I'm very creative. I feel that if I don't create, then I'm not serving the purpose of my craft."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It seems you are very passionate about creativity! In what ways are you creative/how do you nurture your craft, and what is your craft?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (2)
  8. 8.

    What ideas have you created in the last year that benefited your current or former employer?

      The interviewer would like to know if your creative side has benefitted your employer in any way. Talk to the interviewer about a recent time when you have helped your employer through your creative thinking.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "This past year I have benefited my current employer through my creation of a new sales training program for our sales trainees. It simplified the process and made it much easier to teach our new staff."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I made a couple of recommendations on planning and organizational apps that we have recently incorporated. Most notable were the use of Google Docs and Trello."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "One idea that was suggested and implemented was to standardize all the in-house and vendor-managed materials including hardware with visual controls. This would increase productivity by having the items identified at point-of-use. It would decrease costs by eliminating overproduction, and it would decrease the annual physical inventory time by 2-3 hours."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Did you suggest this idea? If so, be sure to state that and take ownership of your innovation :)

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  9. 9.

    Tell me about a project you worked on where a conventional approach was not suitable.

      The interviewer would like to know about a particular project you have worked on where your creativity was required. How have you implemented creativity in the workplace when a conventional approach was not suitable? Display for the hiring manager how you can think outside of the box when necessary.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In 2009 our economy suffered, and a lot of businesses were struggling to keep their doors open. At that time, a conventional approach was to take out additional ads on the radio or TV. Social media was starting to become a major advertising outlet - and it was free. I launched a social media campaign that was very successful. We were able to generate new and repeat business while coming in under our advertising budget."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "As an executive assistant, I often have to pull strings, ask for favors, and assume that no is never an answer that I should take. I will bargain with vendors and come up with highly creative solutions at times to make a plan come together. I love the fast pace of it all and the challenge that comes with supporting a high-level executive."

      View answer examples for this question >

      Anonymous Answer

      "I've worked on many projects in my current position. I would have to say that meeting with a group of senior associates to gather information that would lead to change within their area."

      Rachelle's Answer

      'Tell me about...' questions are an ask from the interviewer for you to walk them through a specific story example. The simplest way to approach these questions is through the STAR framework, which is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. If you'd like to do more research, we have a complete guide here: https://www.mockquestions.com/articles/Master Behavioral-Based Interviews Using The Star Method/

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  10. 10.

    How do you like to encourage ideas in others?

      The interviewer would like to know how you have encouraged others to think creatively. Encouragement to others is a great skill to possess. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to promote creative ideas in your team members.

      Here are some ways that you can encourage ideas in others:

      - Get to know them and what they like to work on
      - Send an encouraging email letting them know you like their plan or ideas
      - Publicly praise their efforts
      - If they are doing a great job, offer them more related opportunities
      - If you are a leader, then tell them that you like their ideas
      - Say things like 'Well done' or 'Nice work' on a regular basis
      - Show that you believe in their quality of work before they even deliver it

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I like to encourage ideas in others by sending them nice emails. I am not one to publicly praise someone, primarily because that would embarrass me, but I will send them a quick note of encouragement."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I like to encourage other people to be creative in their thinking and present ideas to the company, no matter how off the wall they may seem. Some of our most successful employees are ones who are confident in their ability to bring forward their unique ideas. I encourage participation through an open door policy and strong praise for those who show initiative."

      View answer examples for this question >

  11. 11.

    How often do you discuss work with your colleagues in order to think up new systems and styles of working?

      The interviewer would like to know if you discuss creative ideas with your coworkers. Do you use your creative mind with your colleagues to discuss plans and systems in the workplace? Talk to the interviewer about how you have used creative thinking in the workplace.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have a policy with my team that if they have an innovative and helpful idea they can bring it to me at any time. If the idea or system is something that I think could work, we then create a plan together to present it to our head office. This policy has generated some powerful ideas in our office over the past three years including a work-share program and some health and safety initiatives."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I think it is important to discuss work with colleagues in a collaborative nature to encourage all types of ideas to come forth. Often, when people put their heads together, they will create something better than something one individual could have done alone."

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  12. 12.

    When have you used an inventive method to stretch company resources beyond the normal level?

      The interviewer would like to know about a time when you were creative with company resources. If you have an expense account or resource allowance, it is very respectful to the company to be as thoughtful with that allowance as possible. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have been able to stretch company resources.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have recently implemented a schedule that allows for ride-sharing rewards which have cut down on our company's fuel expense by $9000 per month. I am quite proud of this initiative because it is not only financially responsible but also environmentally friendly."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "This is a practice I often utilize to maximize company resources and optimize value to the clients. I recycle a lot of company materials to make the most of our resources. I also do this with people regarding cross-training and sharing understanding across departments."

      View answer examples for this question >

  13. 13.

    When did you come up with an innovative solution to a challenge your company, class, or organization was facing?

      With this question, the interviewer is looking at your thought process and your level of logic. Begin by discussing the problem you were trying to solve. Next, consider the data set you used to analyze the problem. Lastly, talk about the recommendation you gave, and the positive outcome of your suggestion.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I was asked to assess which available project management applications were best for our business. My boss wanted me to narrow it down to three potential purchases, using parameters such as cost, ease of user interface, and customer reviews. I was able to narrow things down for him within two days' time and presented my findings. He went with my #1 recommendation which felt great."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Our company was not communicating important information effectively to our second and third shift operations. I obtained approval to hang televisions in various places which we connected to a secure computer where I could input all announcements for everyone to see."

      View answer examples for this question >

  14. 14.

    What does the word 'innovation' mean to you?

      The term 'innovation' is often overused in business these days and has now become a buzzword that many people don't fully understand. The interviewer would like to know what you feel innovation indeed is. Include an example of a time when you have witnessed an innovative change in the workplace, or when you have exercised creativity.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "To me, innovation means presenting a new idea or making an existing idea better. It's important to be innovative in the workplace, but often it's a misunderstood concept. An example of when I was innovative was when our company was facing budget cuts. I suggested that we begin to operate as though the cuts were already made, in an attempt to preemptively save funds. The concept worked well, and we were able to eliminate many unnecessary expenditures."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Innovation means introducing a new process, or breakthrough in the workplace. A time when I have been innovative was when I built a new tracking system in our company's CRM. I wanted to create a more accurate way to track projects with a simple option for our sales team to update the project stage. The owner of the company loved my creation, and now it's implemented company-wide."

      View answer examples for this question >

  15. 15.

    How can we inspire your creative side?

      If an interviewer asks you any questions related to how they can help you, then you should rejoice! Companies who ask potential employees what they can do for them, are often a flatter organizational structure and often fabulous companies to join. Think of a time when your creative juices were flowing. What were the surroundings, or which resources were available to you? Be sure to thank the interviewer for a question related to your needs!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I appreciate your concern for my needs! The best way to inspire my creative side is to provide me with the space that I need to work. I come up with my best ideas when I can brainstorm and work through my ideas on paper, or on my computer."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I appreciate you asking this question! I tend to concentrate heavily on my work, and sometimes I forget to take breaks. If you can encourage me to take my breaks to refresh my mind, I can create some excellent and creative work!"

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