MockQuestions MockQuestions
Answer Review
Interview Coach Q&A
Interview Coach 1:1
Interviews Questions by Career
Interviews Questions by Company
Interviews Questions by Topic
View Answers
Interview Coach 1:1
Gain the confidence you need by asking our professionals any interview scenario, question, or answer you are unsure about.
Interview Coach Q&A
Ask our interviewing professionals any interview question you may be stumped on, provide a basic answer, and we'll take it from there.
Let Us Review Your Answers
Our interviewing professionals will gladly review and revise any answer you send us. Allowing you to craft perfect responses for your next job interview.
Interview Questions by Topic
Interview Questions by Career
Interview Questions by Company

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

1 of 15 Creative Thinking Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated December 2nd, 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

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
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."

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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."

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."

Answer example

"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."

Answer example

"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."

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 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: 01/07/2017
Last modified on: 12/02/2018

More Interview Questions

Get More Interview Practice
Pick your topic
Ask the Interviewer
Questions you may consider asking the interviewer, about ...
We all have some behaviors that are typical of us and whi...
Common Interview Questions
There are some questions that employers ask at almost eve...
If you are interviewing for any type of leadership role; ...
Most interviews start with a telephone interview. Hiring ...
Everyone struggles with tough interview questions. Learn ...
View more interview questions