Land Your Dream Job
Careers that help you move from intention to action

4 Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Idealist Guest profile image

Idealist Guest

White woman facing interviewer and answering a problem solving interview question.

During a webinar we hosted with Courtney Young-Law, CEO of Fundamentum, job seekers learned how to turn a job interview into a conversation through preparation and confidence. Courtney shared a great deal of information on how to tackle nerves, craft questions you can ask during an interview, and understand what the employer is looking for so you answer questions appropriately.

She also shared advice on tackling some of the most common components of the job search: problem-solving interview questions.

Even if you're a seasoned interviewer, it can be stressful preparing for these types of situational questions. To ensure you have as many bases covered as possible, we're wrapping up some of Courtney's career advice below so you can be well on your way to landing the next social-impact job of your dreams.

The four types of problem-solving interview questions

  • Behavioral questions. This type of interview question focuses on how you respond to problems or conflict in the workplace by having you explain the strategies you use. For example, when asked "When you are faced with a problem, what do you do?" or "Tell me about a time when you handled conflict," the hiring manager wants you to share your process of gathering information, analyzing it, and making decisions based on what you've found. To answer these questions, prepare an anecdote from a past work experience that highlights how you've solved problems in the past.
  • Situational questions. These types of problem-solving interview questions will relate to any obstacles you may encounter in the role at hand. A hiring manager may ask, "How would you balance X and X in this role?" To prepare for these types of question, study the job description and consider some of the obstacles that may pop up when balancing priorities or navigating the hiring organization's structure.
  • Motivational questions. When a hiring manager follows up on one of your answers during an interview, they want to know more about the why. Why use this form of communication over another? Why prioritize this task over another? Prepare for these clarifying questions by considering your personal work style, such as the tools and strategies you've found useful in past roles.
  • Skill-based questions. Quite a few problem-solving interview questions will require you to highlight your specific skillset, which is a great to showcase that you're the perfect person for the job! When asked about specific skills you would employ to solve problems, consider the hard and soft skills you include on your resume. Pull out a few that are most related to the role you're interviewing for, then prepare a couple of anecdotes that highlight how you've put those skills to the test in past jobs.

By the time you work through the above exercises, you should have a solid list of anecdotes to lean on during your next job interview!


By Allison Jones

Idealist Guest profile image

Idealist Guest

This post was contributed by a guest author.

Explore Jobs on Idealist