If companies wanted to hire the same person that left, they would have kept the person that left. When you’re interviewing for a job, some employers are going to ask you about things that make you different from the person that was there before you. This is especially true of problem solving skills which – if asked – usually means that the employer wasn’t wowed by the problem solving skills of the individual that came before you.
Behavioral Interview Question: Tell about a time when you were able to develop a different problem-solving approach. What steps did you follow?
This is a challenging question, because it can be hard to determine what makes a “different” problem solving approach, or what approach can be considered unusual given how many approaches are out there. So look for an answer that includes the following:
- Something you did differently at a workplace from the way they always did it before.
- Something that shows, at the very least, a problem solving mindset.
- Something that was successful (so that your new idea wasn’t a waste).
It’s okay to be a bit imperfect with this one because the question itself can be a significant challenge. But think back to a time when you solved an issue in a way that wouldn’t normally be how the problem would be approached.
“I took over responsibility for the management of display ads. The company invested about $1,200 a month in these ads, and they were extremely professionally done – clearly by someone that knew how to work with display advertising. However, they were just not performing, and even though they were so in depth, it was impossible to figure out why. So rather than try to add parameters, or figure out where the problem was, I took a backwards approach – I turned every single ad off, and started from scratch adding each keyword that worked, one at a time, and tracking individual performance. This saved the company thousands in ad dollars, and though it took a bit longer, we were able to invest in specific keywords that were effective and ultimately saw better results.”
Turning everything off and starting over slowly is very different from the way most people operate, so you’ll successfully make your problem solving approach seem “different,” and, of course, it all worked out in the end.
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