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When you cannot seem to find the right solution to a problem, how do you deal?

1 of 25 Problem Solving Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on December 18th, 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

Sometimes, problems just seem too impossible to solve, at first glance. Your creative problem-solving skills may be at a stand-still from time to time, and the interviewer wants to know how you deal with that.

Taking a brief break and stepping away from the problem can help you to see things from a different perspective. When you are in a rut, you can waste time plugging away at something, resulting in a decline in productivity. Discuss with the interviewer how you handle being in a rut like this.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"If I am stuck on a particular problem, I will take a break from trying to figure out what's wrong and ask a coworker for advice. Getting another person's perspective when you start to feel like you're hitting a wall can help one to see a problem with a fresh set of eyes. As humans, sometimes we overthink! The biggest hurdle can be asking for help, and I am not above asking for help when I'm stuck."

Admin
Answer example

"If time allows - I will sleep on it! When faced with tough decisions where an answer does not come to me easily, I will take a moment to feel the issue out. When necessary I will also bring in the opinion of the administrators in a different department."

Manager
Answer example

"If I cannot come to a solution that feels right I will check in with other leaders whom I work with and, depending on the situation, my business mentor. It's important to check in with those that I admire as they have unique ideas and some have more industry tenure as well."

Marketing
Answer example

"As a marketer, I am hired to find the solution for others. As you can imagine, when that solution seems elusive, it is incredibly challenging for me to accept. For this reason, I love brainstorm sessions with my team. I will also look to the outside in the form of resources online such as blogs and forums by other marketing professionals."

Retail
Answer example

"It can be frustrating when a solution does not come fluidly. However, sometimes trying a solution and seeing it fail, will lead you to a lightbulb moment. I am an active person, so I like to walk and talk things out. Usually, as I do that, I don't filter my ideas. This way, something slips out that I would have edited out as "ridiculous" if I were writing down a list. I have found that this free-flowing problem-solving session often leads to the most creative and impactful solutions which I would have nixed from the get-go had another not failed."

Sales
Answer example

"If I'm stuck on a problem, I try to take some time away from the issue, ideally by taking a step away from the screen and get my blood flowing. Walking away seems to help me get reinvigorated and more creative. I also find it valuable to talk it out with someone, even if that person is not a stakeholder in the situation."

Teacher
Answer example

"If I am stuck in a rut or can't seem to figure out the best approach, I am fortunate enough that I have so many other tasks and classes that I can focus on. Usually, if I clear my mind and fill it with something else, a great idea hits me when I least expect it. If I am stuck on a problem and cannot take the time to step away, I usually rely on my students to help me shake it off!"

Veterinarian
Answer example

"Exercise is a big stress reliever. I like to work out a few times each week to help me release some of the tension that may be building up, even when I'm not aware of it. Also, if I feel like I am starting to feel tense or overwhelmed, I always make sure to talk with a co-worker or supervisor and make sure I don't try to shoulder everything myself."

Allergist
Answer example

"I had been treating a patients asthma for 3 months and had to do extensive research because I couldn't seem to get his symptoms under control. After requesting the patient keep a journal I was able to determine that they were not avoiding their triggers which was impeding on our treatment. We were able to come up with a new plan and control his asthma."

Maintenance
Answer example

"Recently I came across a major plumbing concern in one of our residential buildings. The situation was severe and required more specific expertise than I could offer. I had to call in additional resources. If I come across a problem where I do not personally have a solution, I have no concern calling other industry professionals for assistance."

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: 06/21/2016
Last modified on: 12/18/2018

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