Common sense by definition should be something that’s…well common amongst all people. It usually is but every now and then an employer hires someone without a lot of it. You can bet they are very careful with the next person they hire. They will look for people who can use their judgement and can identify issues and solutions without asking constantly for help. This is often the motivation behind a question like the one below.
Behavioral Interview Question: Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
Hopefully you do this all the time. Logic is perhaps one of the most important skills a person can have, and one of the ultimate signs of intelligence. The challenge with this interview question is coming up with an answer that proves that you can use logic in any setting, since proving logic is hard. Logic is common sense, and how do you prove common sense?
- Universal Story – Use a story that is universally logical. Meaning that even those without much common sense can understand the logic behind why you’re explaining the story, and why you’re sharing it as an example of your logic. Make sure it’s not opinion, especially if it’s an opinion the interviewers may not share.
- Specific – Boring logic doesn’t prove logic. It doesn’t even really prove common sense. Whatever issue you solved, it needs to be something that not literally something everyone would solve the exact same way. Specific stories are better than non-specific stories.
- Effective – Of course, it needs to be an effective decision. If you’re making a logic based decision, then ideally it should have a positive outcome. Make sure that not only was the outcome positive, but also you have something positive to say about it that you can share with the interviewer.
Finally, and here’s the tricky part – ideally, the best stories have an “aha” moment; something that wows the employer with your logic and problem solving skills. This can be extremely hard in most industries, where even the employer is going to recognize the logic right away, but can be useful in industries like engineering, where problem solving talents are especially valuable.
“When I first took over Landscaping Company X’s marketing, one of the first things I did was complete an audit of their advertising dollars. They were based in Sacramento, and did an excellent job marketing to the Sacramento area, and yet I noticed they spent over $10,000 in advertisements for Stockton – a city over 60 miles away, where they had no internet presence.
I realized that while the $10,000 certainly had a payoff, that payoff was muted by the cost of their investment. Yet for $2,000 and a bit of time, I could have an entire new website focussed specifically on Stockton (which had a weak market) that would have significantly greater appeal to the Stockton Market, and could rank for keywords for free in the long term. If successful, this strategy could also have long term benefits, including building a market in Stockton that could be a good source for a satellite office. Even our Advertisements were more effective for the Stockton Market once there was a specific, Stockton oriented website up. Overall it just made a lot more sense.”
Logic, universally understandable, and with an outstanding outcome. That is an answer that people are going to understand, and they’re going to see that you’re a logical person as a result.
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