7 Problem-Solving Interview Questions A Manager Could Ask To Hire Better

7 Problem-Solving Interview Questions A Manager Could Ask To Hire Better

Managing is a very demanding job. As a manager, you have many tasks to perform. But by hiring the best people in your team, you can drop off some work from your shoulders and delegate it to the team member to focus on much more essential tasks. But now the question is how to distinguish the best candidate from many good candidates. The answer is “Problem-solving.” Yes, you read it right, problem-solving; a high-value everyday skill, essential in every task, and high in demand. By analyzing problem-solving, you can evaluate other valuable skills like critical thinking, decision-making, communication, etc. To hire the best candidate for your team, we have compiled a list of the seven best problem-solving interview questions you can ask to evaluate the candidate better. Let’s go and hire the best. Also, by the end, we have a BONUS for you if you are at the interviewee’s end, a technique that helps you answer the problem-solving interview questions better.

7 problem-solving interview questions and answers examples

Tell me about a time when you faced a complex problem at work and how you went about solving it.

Through this question, you can check the candidate’s thought process and approach to solving the problem; also how they would react to the situation, and their reaction time. You can also evaluate their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities from this question.  Sample Answer: “In my previous job, we had a tight project deadline but faced some technical difficulties. I gathered a team of experts and held several brainstorming sessions to identify the root cause of the problem. We then developed a plan to fix the issue and worked around the clock to meet the deadline. As a result, we completed the project on time, and the client was satisfied with our work.”

How do you approach solving complex problems that require collaboration with others?

You can assess whether the candidate is a team player or not; and how they approach problem-solving in a collaborative setting. Sample Answer: “When faced with a complex problem requiring collaboration, I gather input from everyone involved to understand the situation. I then like to break down the problem into smaller, manageable parts and assign tasks accordingly. Therefore, good communication and effective delegation are crucial to solving complex problems as a team.”

What steps do you take when making a decision that could potentially impact the company?

By asking this question, you can evaluate the decision-making abilities of the candidate. In addition, the question allows you to understand better the candidate’s thinking process and the level of outcome they can get through it. Sample Answer: “When making a decision that could impact the company, I gather all the relevant information and weigh the pros and cons of each option. I also like to consult with others who have experience or expertise in the area. Ultimately, I try to make a decision that aligns with the company’s goals and values.”

Tell me about a time when you had to think creatively to solve a problem.

Through this question, you can evaluate how the candidate uses their creative and critical thinking capabilities to tackle complex problems. Also, you can understand whether the candidate is a good fit for the role; do they have the potential to bring new ideas and perspectives to the company? Sample Answer: “In my previous job, a customer wanted to be happier with our product. We tried everything possible to resolve the issue, but nothing worked. I then came up with the idea of offering the customer a personalized solution addressing their concerns. This approach worked, and the customer was satisfied with our product and service.”

How do you handle conflicts with coworkers when trying to solve a problem?

This question will help you identify whether the candidate works collaboratively and resolve conflicts in the workplace. In addition, this question allows the interviewer to gain insight into their interpersonal skills, ability to collaborate with others, and problem-solving skills. Sample Answer: “When conflicts arise during problem-solving, I like to listen to all parties involved and try to find common ground. Compassion is vital in resolving conflicts and moving forward. I also keep the focus on the problem at hand and avoid personal attacks or finger-pointing.”

Tell me about when you had to make a quick decision in a high-pressure situation.

With this question, you can learn about the candidate’s past experiences and understand how they responded to pressure, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Also, you can analyze candidates’ different skills, such as communication, decision-making, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Sample Answer: “A sudden system outage affected several clients in my previous job. I had to quickly decide how to handle the situation and minimize the impact on our clients. I quickly gathered a team of experts and assigned tasks to each person to address the issue. We worked together under pressure to fix the problem, and our clients were happy with our swift response.”

How do you approach a problem you don’t know how to solve?

You can analyze the candidate’s approach and mental state toward a complex/unfamiliar problem through this. It also highlights their critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and willingness to ask others for advice or help. Sample Answer: “When faced with a problem I don’t know how to solve, I first gather as much information as possible about the situation. I then consult with experts in the field or research the problem myself to gain a better understanding. Finally, if everything fails, I will ask for help or bring additional resources to solve the problem. I believe that humility and a willingness to learn are essential qualities in problem-solving.”

BONUS: Understand the STAR technique to tackle the problem-solving interview questions

The STAR technique is a helpful framework for answering problem-solving interview questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Let us understand STAR with the help of examples: Situation: Begin by describing the situation or problem you encountered. Provide context and any relevant background details. Example: “I managed a team of customer service representatives in my last job. One of the problems we faced was a high volume of customer objections about long wait times on the phone.” Task: Clarify the specific task or goal you were trying to accomplish. Example: “My task was to find a solution to reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction.” Action: Describe your actions to address the situation or solve the problem. Be specific and explain your thought process. Example: “I analyzed call volume data and identified peak times when we received the most calls. I then proposed a schedule change to shift more representatives to work during those peak times. I also implemented a callback feature, allowing customers to request a callback instead of waiting on hold. Finally, I worked with the team to improve their efficiency and reduce call handling times.” Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. Use data and specific examples to demonstrate the impact of your solution. Example: “My actions resulted in a 30% reduction in wait times and a 25% increase in customer satisfaction ratings. Additionally, the callback feature was prevalent among customers and resulted in a 20% decrease in abandoned calls. Overall, the changes I implemented had a significant positive impact on the team and the company.” You can provide clear and structured answers to problem-solving interview questions using this STAR technique. It also helps to demonstrate your analytical skills, problem-solving ability, and the impact of your actions.


You can select the best candidate for your team by asking these seven problem-solving interview questions. By asking these questions, you can evaluate a candidate’s critical thinking, decision-making, and leadership abilities, along with problem-solving skills. Additionally, with the STAR technique, prepare for problem-solving interview questions, boosting your chances of landing the job you want. Also, you can evaluate your problem-solving skills through Risely’s free problem-solving assessment.

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What are some examples of problem-solving skills?

Analytical thinking, communication, time management, flexibility, decision-making, problem identification, creativity, and research skills are all examples of problem-solving skills.

What is problem-solving interview objectives?

A problem-solving interview aims to assess a candidate’s ability to analyze complex problems, develop creative solutions, and make informed decisions under pressure.

What are problem-solving skills for leaders?

Strategic-thinking, delegation, communication, collaboration, and innovation are some of the problem-solving skills for leaders.

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