Employers want to hire people that are going to get things done. They want people that when faced with a problem, actively solve it. They are looking for people who are part of the solution not people who are part of the problem. You need to show them you are a problem solver. There are generally three different types of problem solvers:
- The Independents – These are the people that look at a problem and solve it on their own right away.
- The Thinkers – These are the people that think critically about any situation before making a move.
- The Askers – These are the people that ask someone for the answer to ensure that they’re solving the problem the “right way.”
Which one are employers looking for? Well, they want you to be all three in one. They want to see that you’re willing to do all of the above – that you take initiative, do nothing carelessly, and are willing to ask questions. What they also want to see is that you problem solve in that specific order. That is why you will be asked the following:
Behavioral Interview Question: Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
When faced with this type of behavioral interview question, make sure that you show you are an’ initiative taking’ problem solver first. Avoid sounding as though you seek help right away. Also, try to avoid making the problem something that you caused. Focus on problems you found, or problems caused by others. You need to show that you can:
- Identify the problem
- Analyse the situation
- Implement the solution
Here are 2 example answers:
“One time a customer came back to the store claiming that the top of the pickle jar she had recently purchased came loose and spilled out all over her car. I ran to the back room and grabbed several paper towel roles and bleach free stain removers. I told one of the courtesy clerks to come with me, and we both started cleaning her car. I then told the clerk to inform the manager of the mistake and take the customer in to get a new jar of pickles while I finished cleaning. If I could have done anything differently, it would be to find out in advance our store policy on these types of problems so that I could have provided the customer with some type of free item or coupon to help salvage the relationship with the customer.”
As you can see, in this scenario the applicant proves that they take immediate action, they had the foresight to connect the customer to a decision maker, and they implied that they could have improved with preparation. They did this all without admitting fault.
“Customer service was receiving a significant number of complaints about stock arriving way too late. I reviewed our delivery schedule then met with the staff involved in the customer delivery process. We identified that the problem seemed to be that the orders for stock were not being processed fast enough. I recommended a change in our data entry system and regular follow-up with customers was added to the process. This solved the late delay problem and ensured customers felt their needs were met in a better way through regular communication.”
In this scenario, the applicant shows they were able to assess the problem, analyse the situation and implement a solution that included an improvement in the customer relationship.
Answering these types of behavioral interview questions isn’t easy. You definitely need to think about your answer beforehand and have a good example scenario prepared. What problem would you prepare?