Creative Thinking Interview Questions

15 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

Creative Thinking was updated on August 12th, 2018. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 15

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

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Creative Thinking Interview Questions & Answers

  1. 1.

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

      How to Answer

      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 for an Admin Interview

      "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."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "I once had to deal with a space issue in our warehouse. We arranged and re-arranged several times and could not make it work. I thought outside the box and rented some outside pod storage until we were back to normal inventory levels."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "Recently we needed to create a mentorship program for a client. By my suggestion, we decided to engage local thought leaders as well as aspiring leaders. This approach benefited the community as a whole, and our client was delighted with the result."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "In retail, a customer will approach you with odd requests from time to time. Recently, I had a customer insist on making a return that wasn't even from our store. They were furious that I would not take the return! It turns out; we were running a promotion where if you spent $50, you received a $25 in-store gift card. I suggested to the customer that they purchase the product, from us, that they initially wanted. They would then receive the $25 in-store gift card, and they could still return the original product to the first store. I turned an angry return to a paying customer!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "In sales, if you cannot think outside the box, and on the fly, you will not succeed. Recently I had a client who wanted a digital service option thrown in that we did not yet have. It was still in development. To offset his disappointment, I asked him if I could give him three months of the service for free on a trial basis, to help us work out the kinks, would he then be happy. He was thrilled, and we had a real-life test subject."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "As a teacher, I often have to think of alternate ways to teach a lesson when some kids aren't picking up the content. I will always have multi-media resources available for my students to support their learning such as educational computer games and interactive online worksheets."

      Josh's Answer for a Civil Engineer Interview

      "As the leader of my current firm's construction management practice, I have pioneered the use of drones to monitor construction activities and earthwork quantities. We believe drones are one of the major areas for growth in the field of civil engineering and have made several presentations at ASCE meetings on our findings. I believe I can help you implement similar solutions if given the chance."

      Ryan's Answer for a Health Educator Interview

      "On a recent project I was working on, my organization tasked me to coordinate, plan and implement a county-wide initiative on birth control among the young population in the area. Knowing that teen pregnancy was a recurring issue, I wanted to make this impact on young people. In planning to do presentations at three local high schools, I looked into the funding for a guest speaker that could talk about how pregnancy as a teenager had affected her life. After receiving the funding, I put feelers out around our organization and ended up finding a great speaker to come with me to the presentations. I was told by two of the school administrators that our program had a great impact just because of the experiences that the speaker talked about."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sound Engineering Technicians Interview

      "An example of when I thought outside of the box, one accomplishment I am particularly proud of, is managing a very large project on a very tight deadline while employed for (X company) as (X position title). To successfully do so despite the amount of work, I (... detailed information pertaining to this project, e.g., how you used your creativity to achieve your goals, what the ultimate outcome was and how satisfied your employer was)."

      Neha's Answer for a Behavioral Health Technician Interview

      "I once had an issue with a patient who was in a physically abusive patient with her husband. She would have private sessions with me but also did a couples therapy session with her husband. She had told me in confidence that I would not be able to discuss what we talked about privately in her couple's session. This was rather difficult and I had to make sure that I gave her advice in her private session which involved her seeking help while telling her to work things out in her couple's session. It was a very tricky situation but I was able to help her get out of the abusive relationship."

      Ryan's Answer for a FBI Interview

      "As a leader, I am knowledgeable, adaptable, and open. My desire to nurture others to their fullest potential is strong. I strive to be an example to follow and enjoy helping guide others to bettering themselves and their careers."

      Heather's Answer for a Psychiatrist Interview

      "During my time working as an Addictions Counselor, I was treating a patient that had completely devastated their life due to alcoholism. They had lost their job, their spouse due to divorce and the inability to see their children on a regular basis due to court order. Throughout my treatment of the illness with the patient, deep regrets were brought to light once they had gone through the initial detox period. As part of my daily sessions with this patient, it became quite obvious that the patients ex-spouse may help play an integral role in helping him recover. I had never done this prior in practice, but I contacted the ex-spouse to see if they would be willing to join us for one of our normal one on one session together and the spouse readily agreed. It had been almost six months since they had spoken, but right away the spouse could see that the patient was on a path to recovery. Once recovered and released, the patient came back to our unit to volunteer and work with other patients and he remains sober to this day. Every time we see each other, he thanks me for helping him turn his life back around and helping to get his children back into his life."

      2 Community Answers

      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.

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      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."

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