Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Behavioral Interview Questions: Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Problem-Solving and decision-making is the ability to use a systematic approach in solving problems through analysis of problem and evaluation of alternate solutions; use logic, mathematics or other problem solving tools in data analysis or in generating solutions. Ability to take action in solving problems while exhibiting judgment and a realistic understanding of issues; Ability to reason, even when dealing with emotional topics.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Good problem solving often includes a careful review of the facts and weighing of options before making a decision. Give me an example of how you reached a practical business decision by an organized review of the facts and weighing of options. “
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate use a process to define a problem and then identify/evaluate alternative solutions prior to taking action? Was there a routine, obvious, and/or speculative course of action, perhaps based on an inadequate review of information?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Enumerate the analytical tools with which you feel competent, and then give me an example from any time in your working history, which shows your ability to use analytical techniques to define problems or design solutions.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an informed decision on which tool was best for a specific task, and use the tool with minimal supervision? Was there little actual use of the tool, even with supervision?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Even though you may be dealing with a complex problem, it is often important to use a common sense approach in making a decision; not all analytical solutions will seem practical. Tell me about a time when your common sense paid off for you.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an effective decision, particularly in light of practical opportunities/constraints? Was there a lack of effectiveness and/or great inefficiency, perhaps accompanied by insecurity, resistance, rigidity, withdrawal, and/or dependency?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Solving a problem often necessitates evaluation of alternate solutions. Give me an example of a time when you actively defined several solutions to a single problem. Did you use any tools such as research, brainstorming, or mathematics?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate develop alternative solutions to a problem based on a clarification of objectives and a review of facts/causes? Was there an obvious/standard solution or an autocratic solution, reflecting little specification of alternatives?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Solving problems requires more than good plans; it means taking action. Give me an example of a time when you were able to take meaningful action in solving a practical problem.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate take action based on a systematic approach, meaningful review of facts/issues/timing, and willingness to commit to a solution? Was there impulsive action taken due to pressure instead of a practical analysis of what actions were desirable?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Having a good solution for a problem often entails more than just being intelligent. Often, exercise of good judgment is needed to complement logic in choosing a practical solution. Describe when you used good judgment in solving a problem.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate systematically gather and evaluate information, and use priorities/practical circumstances to guide a decision? Was there avoidance/withdrawal from a problem or an uninformed/impulsive decision?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Often, extensive job training and experience are required to get the best results in decision-making. Describe, in detail, a situation in which you used your training and experience in making a decision, which required sound judgment.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate review important/available facts/feelings, and then apply a principle learned in training? Was there little application of information learned in training to make a decision correctly?

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