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

13 Answer Examples

By: Rachelle Enns

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.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"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."

Admin
Answer example

"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."

Manager
Answer example

"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."

Marketing
Answer example

"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."

Retail
Answer example

"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!"

Sales
Answer example

"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."

Teacher
Answer example

"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."

Civil Engineer
Answer example

"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."

Health Educator
Answer example

"On a recent project I was working on, I was tasked by my organization 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 to make an 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 effected 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."

Sound Engineering Technicians
Answer example

"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)."

Behavioral Health Technician
Answer example

"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."

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Written by:

Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is an executive head-hunter and job search expert. Utilized by top executives from Fortune 100 & 500 companies like Fitbit, Microsoft, General Electric, Nestle, and more, she helps professionals position themselves in a competitive marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume, a company that focuses on helping job seekers get their edge back. Renovate My Resume creates stand-out resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and professional summaries for new grads, all the way to corporate executives. Rachelle spends much of her time training career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers. She also holds interview workshops for students and interns, globally. For great tips and tricks, follow Rachelle on Instagram @_rachelle_e or @renovatemyresume.
First written on: 01/07/2017
Last modified on: 12/02/2018

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