Hiring Advice; Professional Growth
Hiring Advice

How to Discover Talent’s Problem-Solving Skills in an Interview

Problem-solving is a very valuable soft skill in any job, but for employers, it can be challenging to assess this skill in applicants.

Problems are unavoidable in every company and will appear almost every day in one form or another. When issues do appear, staff members with strong problem-solving abilities will quickly develop effective solutions.

Hiring applicants with strong problem-solving abilities can be very helpful for your business, so you must evaluate their problem-solving abilities meticulously. An effective approach is to use problem-solving questions to gauge candidates’ strategies to handle challenging and unique situations.

A word of warning: Problem-solving questions are susceptible to producing false negative assessments of applicants who could be quite capable of thriving in a position, as a result of nervousness or introversion during the interview.

Therefore, problem-solving questions are best used when applicants are given several chances to show their ability, across more than one interview, and when there are many strong applicants.

Below are a handful of guidelines to help make certain problem-solving questions function as a very useful, albeit supplemental, tool to assess candidates.

Use Problems that are Relevant

Make certain the problems you present are highly relevant to the open position. Steer clear of arbitrary brain teasers or riddles that are completely unrelated to the job. The best problem-solving questions tend to be directly pulled from actual work in the business. Using highly relevant questions makes certain you are evaluating relevant abilities and gives the applicant some exposure to the types of issues your business addresses daily.

Use Problems with More than One Solution

If possible, choose issues where there are a few possible solutions. In software development, interviewers will often present coding challenges with many different solutions, with some being better than others.

Allowing for multiple solutions lets you make finer distinctions between applicants that are “good” and those that are “great.” It also allows for weak applicants to still have a positive interview experience.

Allow Room for Discussion

Stick to problem-solving questions that can be split into multiple parts and discussed. Ask applicants to explain their thinking as they go. A lot of the data you will gain about an applicant will come from their thought process, not only the solution they give.

Maintain a Strong, Positive Rapport

When asking problem-solving questions, an effective tact is to maintain a good, positive rapport with the candidate, which includes taking a genuine interest in what eh person is saying. A good rapport should be channeled into a collaborative investigation of the issue. Even if you have offered this issue tens of applicants before, it is essential to present genuine interest throughout the response to the question. Avoid conveying disapproval or judgment if the conversation gets off track. Good candidates should be able to recognize any negativity, which affects the hiring process moving forward.

Let Us Help You Identify Candidate with the Skills You Want

At ZDA, we work hand-in-glove with our clients to identify best-fit applicants for their open positions. Please contact us today to find out how we can identify the candidates with the job skills you are seeking.

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