There is nothing quite as frustrating as being unable to solve a challenge at work. It affects more than just the revenue of the company. It affects your pride, and in some cases can shake the very foundation of what you know about how to do your job.
Or not. It might not do any of that. You might not even care that much. But the company looking to hire you does want to believe that you have the ability to problem solve and think creatively about challenges that may come up in the workplace.
Behavioral Interview Question: Can you give me an example of a situation where you used creative or innovative thinking to eliminate frustration with a product or process
This creativity interview question is straight forward. It’s looking for an example of a time that you showed creative thinking when approaching uncommon and frustrating workplace challenges. Ideally, you have a truthful answer.
What you have to be careful of is the following:
- Over-emphasizing the frustration.
- Sharing an answer that isn’t very innovative or interesting.
- Blaming anyone else for the frustration.
The right answer to this question can be very impressive. The wrong answer can make you sound somewhat foolish, and certainly not creative. It’s good to have a plan for this type of question, especially if problem solving is going to be a key part of your role.
“We were trying to figure out how to improve our manufacturing process. We kept maxing out at 4,000 parts per hour, which was good, but hadn’t improved in over 10 years despite advancement in technology. At most, we were able to increase production by a few dozen.
Rather than look at the machinery as a whole, I went back and examined each individual part of the process. I found something surprising and striking. Historically, machines and computers have been taking over for people. But I realized that one of the machines was surprisingly slow, and the cost to maintain the machine was substantial. If we replaced the machine with about 5 or 6 individual workers that would put together that one part by hand, we’d improve production by several thousand, as the rest of the process was far more efficient and less costly.
It was a bit of a hard sell to show upper management that replacing a machine with people would actually improve production, but we ran the numbers and we could reach at least 6,000 or more using the new process.”
Note that it’s not just about the creative thought, but how you frame it. Most solutions are still going to have an element of obviousness to them. But if you explain what makes it a creative thought, you’ll be able to help the interviewer picture how you come up with solutions.