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26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)
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Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.
But how do they measure this?
They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.
Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”
Examples of Problem Solving Scenarios in the Workplace
- Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
- Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
- Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
- Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
- Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
- Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
- Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
- Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
- Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
- Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
- Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
- Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
- Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
- Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
- Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
- Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
- Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
- Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area
Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers
- Coordinating work between team members in a class project
- Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
- Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
- Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
- Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
- Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
- Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
- Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first
You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.
Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”
Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.
Example Answer 1:
At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.
Example Answer 2:
In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.
Example Answer 3:
In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.
Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method
When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.
STAR stands for:
It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.
Finally, describe a positive result you got.
Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.
What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?
Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.
Below are good outcomes of problem solving:
- Saving the company time or money
- Making the company money
- Pleasing/keeping a customer
- Obtaining new customers
- Solving a safety issue
- Solving a staffing/scheduling issue
- Solving a logistical issue
- Solving a company hiring issue
- Solving a technical/software issue
- Making a process more efficient and faster for the company
- Creating a new business process to make the company more profitable
- Improving the company’s brand/image/reputation
- Getting the company positive reviews from customers/clients
Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.
Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills
Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems. Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc. Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.
You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.
If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.
Related interview questions & answers:
- How do you handle stress?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Tell me about a time when you failed
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Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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What different types of teams are in the workplace?
Teams have become standard in the business world. Naturally, academic institutions have implemented team-based projects to help prepare students for the workplace. 90 percent of corporate leaders feel today’s problems are so complex they require teams to provide effective solutions. These leaders believe collaboration can fuel creative thinking and problem solving critical to positive business outcomes.
Request a free demo of TeamMATE® here to learn how this online peer evaluation can help you measure and develop teamwork skills in all types of teams.
The truth is, there are many different types of teams. Some teams are permanent while others are temporary. Some are part of the corporate hierarchy while others are adjunct. One thing you can be sure of is, your career will involve working with teams. Let’s take a look at the most common types of teams in the workplace.
1. Department teams: Departmental teams have been around for quite some time. As a department team, individuals relate to specialty or focus he or she has mastered, with everyone working toward achieving goals outlined in the company’s mission statement. Some examples include developer teams at a tech start up or the sales team at a marketing agency.
Departmental teams are permanent and typically work on ongoing projects or goals.
2. Problem-solving teams: These types of teams are usually temporary and focus on solving a specific issue. For example, after the 2008 financial crisis, several organizational task force teams and governmental committees were created to come up with solutions to help the country climb out of a steep recession. Once guidelines were set in place and plans were formed, the task forces and committees were disbanded.
3. Virtual teams: A virtual team can be any type of team that communicates digitally rather than in person. Easier communication tools allow managers to build teams based on strengths and weaknesses rather than geography.
It’s important for students to master virtual skills early on in their academic career, as conference calls and WebEx presentations have become ubiquitous in the workplace.
4. Cross-functional teams: In most business settings, permanent team members are going to collaborate with other departments to tackle certain events for the company – such a new product launch. In these situations communication between internal departments is crucial in order to address the project goals.
5. Self-managed teams: These types of teams are the most empowered, as they have to power to make decisions. Each team member brings a certain skill set to the table to make informed decisions, complete assignments or deliver services for customers. Companies that implement self-managed teams say their employees tend to feel more ownership of the project.
There are many types of teams that have become commonplace in companies. It’s crucial for professors to not only help students understand how business teams operate, but to also give them the tech tools and data necessary to see how these interactions work in real time. Building teamwork is key across academia and business, so it is important to tackle challenges early on that could lead to dysfunctional teams down the road.
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Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master
Some people see problems as roadblocks, others see them as opportunities! Problem-solving activities are a great way to get to know how members of your team work, both individually and together. It’s important to teach your team strategies to help them quickly overcome obstacles in the way of achieving project goals.
In this article, you’ll explore 15 problem-solving activities designed to enhance collaboration and creativity. Additionally, if you want to discuss the insights and outcomes with your team after the activities, you can use Wrike’s actionable meeting notes template. This template allows you to record meeting discussions, assign action items, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The importance of problem-solving skills in today’s workplace
According to a 2019 report by McKinsey , soft skills are increasingly important in today's world — and problem-solving is the top area in which skills are lacking. A company or team’s success weighs heavily on the willingness of managers to help employees improve their problem-solving abilities. Team building activities targeting focus areas like communication and collaboration, adaptability, or strengthening decision-making techniques help.
All problem-solving processes start with identifying the problem. Next, the team must assess potential courses of action and choose the best way to tackle the problem. This requires a deep understanding of your team and its core strengths. A problem-solving exercise or game helps identify those strengths and builds problem-solving skills and strategies while having fun with your team.
Problem-solving games aren't for just any team. Participants must have an open mind and accept all ideas and solutions . They must also have an Agile mindset and embrace different structures, planning, and processes. Problems usually arise when we least expect them, so there's no better way to prepare than to encourage agility and flexibility.
Another aspect to keep in mind when engaging in problem-solving games and activities: There are no winners or losers. Sure, some games might end with a single winner, but the true goal of these exercises is to learn how to work together as a team to develop an Agile mindset. The winning team of each game should share their strategies and thought processes at the end of the exercise to help everyone learn.
Here’s a list of fun problem-solving activity examples to try with your team. From blindfolds to raw eggs, these problem-solving, team-building activities will have your team solving problems faster than Scooby and the gang.
Classic team-building, problem-solving activities
1. a shrinking vessel.
Helps with: Adaptability
Why adaptability is important for problem-solving: Adaptability is highly associated with cognitive diversity, which helps teams solve problems faster , according to the Harvard Business Review. Innovation and disruption are happening faster than ever before . People, teams, and organizations that can adapt will come out on top.
What you’ll need:
- A rope or string
1. Using the rope, make a shape on the floor everyone can fit into.
2. Slowly shrink the space over 10-15 minutes.
3. Work together to figure out how to keep everyone within the shrinking boundaries.
2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
Helps with: Collaboration
Why collaboration is important for problem-solving: “Collectively, we can be more insightful, more intelligent than we can possibly be individually,” writes Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline . We can solve problems better as a team than we can alone, which means developing your team’s collaboration skills will lead to better problem-solving outcomes.
What you’ll need (per team):
- 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 1 yard of string
- 1 marshmallow
1. The goal of this exercise is to see which team can use the materials provided to build the tallest tower within an allotted time period. The tower must be able to stand on its own.
2. To make this exercise more challenging, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower. This team problem-solving exercise helps people think on their toes while building camaraderie and leadership.
3. Egg Drop
Helps with: Collaboration, decision-making
Why decision-making is important for problem-solving: Making decisions isn’t easy , but indecision leads to team paralysis, stagnant thinking, and unsolved problems. Decision-making activities help your team practice making quick, effective choices. Train your team’s decision-making muscles and they will become more adept at problem-solving.
- A carton of eggs
- Basic construction materials such as newspapers, straws, tape, plastic wrap, balloons, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, etc., tarp, or drop cloth
- A parking lot, or some other place you don’t mind getting messy!
1. Each team gets an egg and must select from the construction materials.
2. Give everyone 20-30 minutes to construct a carrier for the egg and protect it from breaking.
3. Drop each egg carrier off a ledge (i.e. over a balcony) and see whose carrier protects the egg from breaking.
4. If multiple eggs survive, keep increasing the height until only one egg is left.
Helps with: Communication, decision-making
Why communication is important for problem-solving: More employees work remotely than ever before. Good communication skills are vital to solving problems across virtual teams . Working on communication skills while your team is together will help them solve problems more effectively when they’re apart.
Here's the setting: Your team has been stranded in the office. The doors are locked, and knocking down the doors or breaking the windows is not an option. Give your team 30 minutes to decide on ten items in the office they need for survival and rank them in order of importance. The goal of the game is to have everyone agree on the ten items and their rankings in 30 minutes.
Creative problem-solving activities
Helps with: Communication
What you'll need:
1. Divide everyone into small teams of two or more.
2. Select an overseer who isn't on a team to build a random structure using Lego building blocks within ten minutes.
3. The other teams must replicate the structure exactly (including size and color) within 15 minutes. However, only one member from each group may look at the original structure. They must figure out how to communicate the size, color, and shape of the original structure to their team.
4. If this is too easy, add a rule that the member who can see the original structure can't touch the new structure.
- A lockable room
- 5-10 puzzles or clues (depending on how much time you want to spend on the game)
1. The goal of this exercise is to solve the clues, find the key, and escape a locked room within the time allotted.
2. Hide the key and a list of clues around the room.
3. Gather the team into the empty room and "lock" the door.
4. Give them 30 minutes to an hour to find the key using the clues hidden around the room.
Helps with: Decision-making, adaptability
- A blindfold
- 1 packet of construction materials (such as card stock, toothpicks, rubber bands, and sticky notes) for each team
- An electric fan
Instructions: Your employees are Arctic explorers adventuring across an icy tundra! Separate them into teams of four or five and have them select a leader to guide their exploration. Each team must build a shelter from the materials provided before the storm hits in 30 minutes. However, both the team leader’s hands have frostbite, so they can’t physically help construct the shelter, and the rest of the team has snow blindness and is unable to see. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the fan and see which shelter can withstand the high winds of the storm.
- An empty room or hallway
- A collection of common office items
1. Place the items (boxes, chairs, water bottles, bags, etc.) around the room so there's no clear path from one end of the room to the other.
2. Divide your team into pairs and blindfold one person on the team.
3. The other must verbally guide that person from one end of the room to the other, avoiding the "mines."
4. The partner who is not blindfolded can't touch the other.
5. If you want to make the activity more challenging, have all the pairs go simultaneously so teams must find ways to strategically communicate with each other.
9. Blind Formations
1. Have the group put on blindfolds and form a large circle.
2. Tie two ends of a rope together and lay it in a circle in the middle of the group, close enough so each person can reach down and touch it.
3. Instruct the group to communicate to create a shape with the rope — a square, triangle, rectangle, etc.
4. If you have a very large group, divide them into teams and provide a rope for each team. Let them compete to see who forms a particular shape quickest.
Quick and easy problem-solving activities
10. line up blind.
1. Blindfold everyone and whisper a number to each person, beginning with one.
2. Tell them to line up in numerical order without talking.
3. Instead of giving them a number, you could also have them line up numerically by height, age, birthday, etc.
11. Reverse Pyramid
Helps with: Adaptability, collaboration
1. Have everyone stand in a pyramid shape, horizontally.
2. Ask them to flip the base and the apex of the pyramid moving only three people.
3. This quick exercise works best when smaller groups compete to see who can reverse the pyramid the fastest.
12. Move It!
- Chalk, rope, tape, or paper (something to mark a space)
1. Divide your group into two teams and line them up front to back, facing each other.
2. Using the chalk, tape, rope, or paper (depending on the playing surface), mark a square space for each person to stand on. Leave one extra empty space between the two facing rows.
3. The goal is for the two facing lines of players to switch places.
4. Place these restrictions on movement:
- Only one person may move at a time.
- A person may not move around anyone facing the same direction.
- No one may not move backward.
- A person may not move around more than one person on the other team at a time.
13. Human Knot
1. Have everyone stand in a circle, and ask each person to hold hands with two people who aren’t directly next to them.
2. When everyone is tangled together, ask them to untangle the knot and form a perfect circle — without letting go of anyone's hand.
Our last two problem-solving activities work best when dealing with an actual problem:
14. Dumbest Idea First
Helps with: Instant problem-solving
1. "Dumb" ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Ask everyone to think of the absolute dumbest possible solution to the problem at hand.
2. After you have a long list, look through it and see which ones might not be as dumb as you think.
3. Brainstorm your solutions in Wrike. It's free and everyone can start collaborating instantly!
15. What Would X Do
1. Have everyone pretend they're someone famous.
2. Each person must approach the problem as if they were their chosen famous person. What options would they consider? How would they handle it?
3. This allows everyone to consider solutions they might not have thought of originally.
Looking for more team-building and virtual meeting games? Check out these virtual icebreaker games or our Ultimate Guide to Team Building Activities that Don't Suck.
Additional resources on problem-solving activities
- Problem-Solving Model : Looking for a model to provide a problem-solving structure? This detailed guide gives you the tools to quickly solve any problem.
- The Simplex Process: Popularized by Min Basadur's book, The Power of Innovation , the Simplex Process provides training and techniques for each problem-solving stage. It helps frame problem-solving as a continuous cycle, rather than a “one and done” process.
- Fun Problem-Solving Activities and Games : Looking for more ideas? Check out this list of interesting and creative problem-solving activities for adults and kids!
- The Secret to Better Problem-Solving: This article provides tips, use cases, and fresh examples to help you become a whiz at solving the toughest problems.
How to organize problem-solving activities with Wrike
If you want to make problem-solving activities more effective, consider using team collaboration software such as Wrike.
Wrike’s pre-built actionable meeting notes template helps you keep track of meeting discussions, assign action items, and keep everyone in the loop. It’s an effective tool to streamline your problem-solving sessions and turn insights into real projects.
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Problem Solving Skills & Examples
Updated March 6, 2023
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There are many definitions of problem-solving – but at a basic level, it focuses on the ability to accurately assess a situation and arrive at a positive solution.
Solving problems is an analytical skill that many employers look for when reviewing candidate application forms.
This particular skill isn’t restricted to a single sector, industry or role, though employers in the engineering and legal industries, in particular, tend to look for proficiency.
Consequently, questions about your problem-solving ability are commonplace in interviews.
Strong problem-solving skills can be hugely beneficial for your career. In every sector, problems are inevitable and will arise in one form or another as you go about your day-to-day duties.
When problems do occur, employees are expected to use their initiative and develop suitable solutions to avoid the situation escalating into something more serious.
What Kind of Problems Typically Arise in a Professional Context?
There are many situations where problems could present themselves in the workplace, from a client's concern through to assisting a technical team resolve a website or database error.
The issues that you come across will often vary in complexity, with some situations requiring a simple solution and others demanding more thought and skill to overcome.
Business managers will spend a lot of their time solving problems and consequently require their employees to be creative and intuitive when it comes to addressing them.
Being confident in your approach is really important, and as you learn which processes are most effective to overcome obstacles, so your confidence will grow.
Without suitable processes in place, your solutions may fail or they could even create additional problems.
A good problem-solving process involves four fundamental stages: problem definition , devising alternatives , evaluating alternatives and then implementing the most viable solutions .
Managers are looking for recruits who can be creative and intuitive when it comes to addressing business problems.
How to Improve Problem-Solving Skills
There are several ways you can improve problem-solving skills. It helps to approach each problem through a series of logical steps.
First, identify what the problem is. This requires examining a particular situation to determine what specifically is causing the problem.
Rather than looking at a problematic situation as a whole (for example, a customer is upset), try to break it down and determine the cause of the problem (why is the customer upset?).
The Five Whys (or 5 Whys) technique can be helpful here, which essentially involves asking 'why' five times to determine the root of a problem.
There may be several elements causing the problem or one specific element. Either way, breaking a problem down into smaller parts makes it much easier to solve each of the elements or issues contributing to the problem.
Next, come up with a range of potential solutions. Techniques such as problem tree analysis and mind mapping can help to lay out problem elements and potential solutions.
Some of the potential solutions won't be as effective as others, and that's okay. The goal at this stage is to evaluate each potential solution and determine which one is likely to be the most effective at solving the problem. You may require several different solutions to solve different elements of the problem as a whole.
Once you have decided on a solution, follow a step-by-step plan to implement that solution. Just as breaking down a problem into key elements makes it easier to identify solutions, an action plan with various steps makes it easier to implement those solutions.
What Are Problem-Solving Questions?
Questions about problem-solving will typically arise within a competency -based interview and will require you to demonstrate your particular approach.
Questions about problem-solving can be asked in a range of different ways, but some common examples of problem-solving are:
- How do you solve problems?
- Give me an example of a problem you have faced in the past, either as part of a team or as an individual. How did you solve the problem?
- What do you do when you can't solve a problem?
Why Are Employers Interested in Testing Your Problem-Solving Skills?
Effective problem-solving requires a combination of creative thinking and sound analytical skills . Employers look for hires who can demonstrate each of these skills in the workplace to deliver positive outcomes.
Managers would far rather employ a member of staff who can take action to resolve a problem than someone who doesn't act and relies on someone else to think of a solution. Even if it isn't outlined as a requirement in a job description, many employers will still be evaluating your problem-solving ability throughout the application process.
Effective problem solvers are those who can apply logic and imagination to make sense of the situation and develop a solution that works. Even if it doesn't prove as successful as you had hoped, resilience is important, so you can reassess the situation and try an alternative.
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What Form Do Problem-Solving Questions Take?
If problem-solving skills are an integral part of your role, it is likely that you will have to complete some kind of assessment during the application process. There are a number of forms that a problem-solving question can take, but the majority of them will be scenario-based .
Employers may base problem-solving questions around three main areas:
- How you have approached situations in the past
- How you would manage a problem that would arise as part of the job
- How you handle problems throughout the application process
Some employers believe that the way you approached a situation in the past is a good indicator of how you will approach a challenging situation in the future. Therefore the best way to understand how someone would respond to a specific scenario is to ask a question such as 'explain an occasion when…’
As the employer wants to assess your problem-solving skills, they may ask you to outline a situation where something went wrong and what happened. This could be an example of a time when you faced something unexpected, or you were approached by a client about a concern.
Situations Specific to the Job
Managers will often relate one or more questions to the role you are applying for. Sometimes this may take the form of a question about what the applicant would do if they had too much or too little work to complete.
These types of questions usually begin with the recruiter asking how you would deal with a specific situation followed by some kind of challenge. For example, how you would deal with a colleague who was relying on you to do all of the work or falling short of a target.
Questions Throughout the Application Process
Although these aren't questions as such, they may be used by some recruiters to see how you handle unexpected changes. This could be rearranging the time of your interview or sending an email without attaching something important. Both of these - even if they are unintentional - could be used as a way to assess how you approach something that is unforeseen.
How to Answer Problem-Solving Questions
If you know that you are likely to face problem-solving questions in the application process, it’s good practice to research the typical questions and scenarios that candidates are presented with.
This will not only increase your confidence but also help you to refine your answers and provide a stronger response.
In this section we provide three examples of common questions and suitable responses:
You have been asked to schedule in a rush project but you cannot complete the piece of work you need to, since you require information from another colleague who is not currently available. How would you deal with the situation?
You are working on a project and halfway through you realise that you have made a significant mistake that may require you to restart the project to resolve it. How would you approach this so you still met the deadline?
How would you deal with a customer who wasn't happy with your service, even though you haven't done anything wrong and it is the customer who has made the mistake?
Tips, Common Mistakes and Further Practice
When it comes to answering questions about problem-solving skills, we recommend the following;
Select a strong example that truly demonstrates your problem-solving ability in a positive manner.
Choose examples that are relevant to the job you are applying for . If you are applying for a project-based position, give an example of how you resolved a problem with a work or academic project.
Be specific with your responses and use an example with enough detail to show how you approach situations and the way you think. Take the time to come up with possible answers and scenarios before the interview .
Make sure the problem is unique . If you have a problem, simply calling someone else to solve it is not impressive. The best answers will show tailored solutions to tasks that may seem mundane.
Make sure the problem is simple . If you have switched from a legal career to an engineering career and your problem is legal in nature, ensure your problem is easy to understand and explain it to your interviewer without using jargon.
Choose a weak or boring problem , or one that reflects you in a negative way.
Generalise your answers with responses such as ‘you consider yourself to be a great problem solver’ or ‘you regularly solve problems’. You need to demonstrate how you solve problems effectively.
Raise any areas of concern by giving examples of negative situations that were a result of your own actions , even if you solved a problem successfully.
No matter how interesting the story that you have to tell is, don’t spend too much time providing too much detail , because the recruiter will soon get bored. Keep your answer short and to the point.
How to Demonstrate Problem-Solving in Your CV or Cover Letter
During your written application and at interview, employers will expect you to evidence your problem-solving skills. In your written application you should demonstrate them via relevant keywords, statements and achievements. If you solved a problem and it had a positive impact on the business – such as improved customer service standards or resource savings – say so on your CV.
If you are invited to an interview try to use the STAR technique to structure your answers. This technique focuses your responses on a Situation, Task, Action and Result. Following this process will help your answers to be focused, concise and strong.
Where problem-solving is a main element of your role, an employer may incorporate a relevant psychometric test and/or an activity to carefully assess your problem-solving skills.
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How to Nail your next Technical Interview
You may be missing out on a 66.5% salary hike*, nick camilleri, how many years of coding experience do you have, free course on 'sorting algorithms' by omkar deshpande (stanford phd, head of curriculum, ik).
What are problem-solving skills? (Examples included!)
Life in the 21st century is all about efficiency and development. The unending quench of discovering the unknown, materializing one dream after another, has helped push the limits through the sky. But have you ever thought what the key to all of these astronomical successes is?
It is the zeal to solve a problem with the resources available to generate the best possible results.
Here's what this article will cover:
What are problem-solving skills, how do problem-solving skills help or act as your pillars of success, how do employers assess your problem-solving skills.
- Steps to execute problem-solving skills
Skills to hone for an apt solution-finder
Examples of problem-solving techniques.
Dos and Don'ts in interviews
How to improve your problem-solving skills?
How to highlight problem-solving skills.
Problem-solving is hunting; it is a savage pleasure, and we are born to it." –Thomas Harris .
The truth is, problem-solving skills are acquirable for some people while others adapt to it like fish in the water. Working in IT, web development, coding, machine learning, and the likes demand the ability to make decisions at a moment's notice.
So, do you want to back off when the time comes or take it up as a challenge?
Brush up your problem-solving skills or better, enhance them, and make them your forte by reading this article. No technical interview preparation guide is complete without tips to improve such problem-solving skills.
Also read: Why do FAANG companies test for problem-solving skills in their interviews.
Larry and his team suddenly face a major crisis. Not a single developer in his team who is good with String is coming to the office, but there is an urgent client requirement. Larry asks his team if anybody is confident enough to pull it through, and surprisingly, he sees one solitary hand of Jim in the mix. But it is a 4-men job, at least. Realizing that there is no way out other than working with another team(s), he wastes no time. He sends out emails to other teams asking for at least two more developers, counting himself and Jim. 4 more fellow coders came to the rescue and delivered the project before the deadline!
Problem-solving skills enable you to observe the situation and determine the contributing factors of the issue. Identifying the root cause and the ability to take necessary steps with available resources are integral in finessing your problem-solving ability.
All technical interview preparation courses , therefore, cover this crucial aspect.
Employers seek problem-solving skills in their employees. And why not?
Who wouldn't want to have an efficient employee like Larry? The knack of not backing down from a challenge is the perfect catalyst for business expansion.
Problem-solving skills help you attain insight into the source of the problem and figuring out an ideal solution. However, several skills and their correct implementation are essential, which are listed below.
- Patient listener : To identify a problem, you must first be all ears to gain information about the situation.
- Eye for detail : Once you start listening minutely, you now need to identify the data's discrepancies and have an intuitive eye for detail.
- Thorough research : Background research and data verification is bread and butter for efficient problem-solvers.
- Innovative approach : It is not just about getting it done. It's about taking a challenging approach in a mission to maximize results.
- Communication skills: Flawless communication skills are necessary to negate any misunderstanding and ensure conveying the message with clarity. You can indeed consider this as a great time saver!
- Composure : Your ability to remain calm even in a demanding situation will always earn you dividends in the path to success. It is not a quality that you can imbibe easily, but rigorous practice can do the trick for you.
- Decision-making ability : Having a knack for making the right decisions under pressure is a highly sought-after attribute by employers when hiring people. Taking quick decisions in dire straits is the reason why the company is paying you the big bucks.
- Team player : Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team is instrumental in maintaining team spirit. Higher the team spirit, the better the performance!
Employers today prioritize hiring people with soft skills like problem-solving abilities to maximize business output even when the going gets tough. Your problem-solving ability is judged based on:
- If you have accomplished any remarkable feat in a taxing situation. This gives an insight into the upper benchmark of your performance.
- Presenting hypothetical problems for the interviewee to solve is another commonly used trick to ascertain your productivity metrics and creative problem-solving techniques in tough conditions.
- Some organizations may even line up some challenging tests and exercises to have a firsthand look at the execution and effectiveness of your technical skills in the approach to problem-solving.
Steps to execute problem-solving skills
"We cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created them." – Albert Einstein
- Analyze contributing factors
James was getting an error code during the execution of specific UI updates. He started analyzing the code and rechecking the repository for any possible mistake. To his delight, his hunch turned out to be accurate. He immediately made the necessary changes, and the updates were successfully executed.
Analysis of contributing factors and its repercussions in the ebb and flow of the task is a preliminary attribute of an able problem-solver. To acquire perfection in analysis and problem-solving skills, you must ensure a thorough:
- Gathering of data
- Diligent study of the collected data
- Scrutiny to filter relevant data
- Historical analysis
- Generate interventions
Working at a software development firm, Donald is perturbed by the lack of advancement in the deep learning project. Lack of idea and innovation is leading to nowhere. He decided that enough is enough. He asked for a group session to brainstorm in the hope of generating some leads. The session was a huge success, and Donald was finally able to catch a breather.
It is not an unknown fact that 'we' is always more productive than 'I' under any circumstance.
Utilizing the versatility of your available resources with the help of various sessions can work miracles. Such sessions can be for:
- Creative thinking
- Planning a project
- Forecasting future trends
- Prediction of possible outcomes
- Designing your project with originality, etc.
- Evaluate solutions
This is more up the alley for managers and team leads. To become adept at evaluating solutions, one must gain prolonged experience in corporate decision-making. The evaluation process needs to consider potential costs, available resources, and possible hurdles of project completion.
Yes, he is a team lead, and therefore, he had the authority to initiate a brainstorming session with multiple teams to bring in new ideas.
The secret to evaluating solutions?
- Identifying change in trends
- Implement a plan
Choosing the right course of action is the preliminary step to solve the problems. The success of the execution is streamlined with the help of quality benchmarks to indicate its effectiveness.
"A problem is a chance for you to do the best!" – Duke Ellington .
Knowing the right people to do it for you is essential for successful implementation. It is also crucial that you are accustomed to your organization's operating procedures before you formulate the best possible strategy.
Skills you need are:
- Project management
- Implementation of project strategy
- Time management
- Developing appropriate quality benchmark
- Assess the solution's effectiveness
An ideal way to detect whether a solution is effective or not is to check if the problem still exists after applying the solution. Benchmarks need to be set as per organizational standards to help them assess the situation and if any further changes are required in the interim.
- Data analysis
- Close follow-ups
"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." –John Dewey
- Research: Problem-solving is not complete without extensive research. It is otherwise impossible to identify the problem without gathering enough data on the errors and their analysis. Consulting with your team gives you an edge to find the solution quicker.
- Analysis: Analysis of the situation is a must. Analytical skills further assist you in identifying the discrepancies and the possible actions which can resolve the issue.
- Decision-making: The ability to make decisions in hours of need defines your mettle. The onus is on you to be proactive and choose the right course of action.
- Communication: Are you great at conversations? If so, communication skills can help you garner much-required assistance for the project. Communication of the issues and how you want the project done are critical for the problem-solving process's smooth flow.
- Dependability: Having dependable members boosts the morale of the team. If you are a problem-solver, taking responsibility and taking it on the chin to solve the issues needs to be your forte.
- Select an example or situation that you can handle without any issue.
- Do not stray off topic and stay on track.
- Do not use jargon in your interview. So, choose your example and words wisely.
- Do not choose a redundant issue.
Sam has come to an interview for a team-lead profile. The recruiter asks a situation-based problem in regards to machine learning software. Though tricky, Sam knew the exact way around for the problem and answered it precisely to the point. The recruiter is delighted and hires Sam for the position.
- Thirst for knowledge : An insatiable thirst for knowledge is the secret door to success in problem-solving skills. If Sam was unaware of the tweaks needed to solve the problem, do you think the manager would have been impressed? No, managers at companies like Google and Facebook are looking for people who can act independently with their available resources. The question is, are you the problem solver who can be a catch to any company?
- An intuition for challenge : You need to be intuitive and have a sharp nose for challenges. The more you take up difficult situations and handle them with panache and ease, the more you can hone your problem-solving skills.
- Practice and more practice: Practice makes a man perfect – truer words have never been said. Effective problem solving is achieved not by slacking off but by acquainting yourself with various situations and applying your skills to resolve them. Remember, experience can never be substituted, and you have to take the long route to success!
- Keen and observant eyes : Do you have an eye for detail, and are you quick to point out discrepancies in data analysis? If yes, you are already one step towards becoming a valued problem solver in your company. Also, if you are a person who observes closely what is being done and why others do it, it helps develop your decision-making skills in future. Don't forget to mention this in your resume.
Tom has been applying frantically for a job since he moved to Arizona but seemed unable to find just the right one. When he sees his attempts are futile, he decides to add some of his previous company's achievements, thinking it might help. Oh, boy, did it help! Tom writes about when he was asked to handle a team of 12 single-handedly while his manager suddenly went on a sabbatical. Tom had no prior experience of leading a team but appeared to come out of this fix with flying colors.
Megan is currently looking for a step up in her career. She carefully drafts a cover letter that entails her achievements with clarity. The cover letter explained her contributions in reviving team spirit in the office after her predecessor, with his poor man-management, had successfully built a wall of distrust among the employees.
- Problem-solving skills for resume : You can convey your achievements or even your hobbies to the person sitting in front of you, or not, depending on his/her nature. But you cannot afford to miss the chance to showcase your best achievement. It is in your best interest to build your CV around the achievements to give it maximum traction and attention. Mention the problem you faced and jot down the course of action you took to nullify the situation. Nobody can stop you if this is done right!
- Problem-solving skills for cover letter : Use it as an opportunity to let the company delve into your success story so far and the factors leading to it. If you have done your research on the organization you're applying for, it will not hurt your chances of identifying some challenges of the company and suggesting some solutions. It goes down a long way if you indeed join forces!
If you are adequately seasoned with problem-solving skills with dedication and practice, you're already almost there. Proper interview preparation tips can further help you in this regard.
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10 Examples of Problem Solving for Job Candidates
- Early Career
What is one good example of problem-solving that a candidate can reference in a job interview?
It’s common interview advice you’ve likely heard before: provide specific examples of your past accomplishments. Need some help narrowing down just which accomplishment you should share during an interview? Try referencing a time when you provided a solution to a tricky business-oriented problem.
This is sure to impress any interviewer, but don’t take our word for it. Here are 10 recruiters weighing in with examples they’d love to hear when interviewing candidates.
Sold reluctant team members on a new process, rescued the team from a website crash, got creative with a limited, tight budget, discovered & corrected their own mistake, delivered on a time-crunch deadline with limited resources, a comeback from a lagging project to on-time delivery, didn’t let conflict indefinitely stall a project, thought outside of the box for an innovative solution, used a competitor’s mistake as a learning opportunity, sought external partnership to address a budget crunch.
A good example of problem-solving is when a candidate I was interviewing for a position told me about the situation in which he was working with a team, and he wanted to implement a new process, but the whole team was against it. The candidate was able to go around and talk to each person on the team individually, work out their concerns and then present that information in a way that everyone could understand and agree with. This allowed the team to progress on the project, which helped them meet deadlines and ultimately implement the new process.
This is a great example, and especially so with how he described it in an engaging and convincing storytelling fashion. It shows that the candidate can work with people from all different backgrounds and personalities. It also shows that he has the ability to listen, understand, and communicate effectively in order to get a problem solved while working in a team.
Shaun Connell, Connell Media
Discuss an unexpected challenge that you handled without managerial input. For example, maybe the website crashed or some site assets were delayed for a new product launch. How did you come to the rescue for your team and use your problem-solving skills to find a resolution? This shows that you can take initiative and don’t panic at the sight of conflict.
Natália Sadowski, Nourishing Biologicals
One great example of problem-solving a candidate can reference in a job interview is a time they worked through a limited budget. Finding creative solutions to money problems is always a desired characteristic, even outside accounting. It shows a candidate knows how to make use of what they have. Specific examples of resourcefulness will also go a long way in an interview.
Sasha Ramani, MPOWER Financing
Problem-solving requires multiple reasoning stages—from recognizing the problem, analyzing it, looking for a solution, and finding the winning one. Sharing how you fixed your own mistake is probably the best way to include all of those elements. If you talk about your own experience, you can describe how you discovered your error and your step-by-step journey to finding the appropriate solution. This story is double-beneficial. Besides showing your problem-solving skills, it shows that you are an ambitious, independent employee.
Karolina Zajac, PhotoAiD
A job candidate can reference an instance where they resolved a time-management problem. While this is specific to each applicant, it can be a situation where a deadline was crucial and resources were lacking. Describe how you resolved the resource issue to meet the product or service deadline along with the results afterward. Your answer should describe the steps you took to resolve the problem as well as how you came up with the solution to meet the need.
Tanya Klien, Anta Plumbing
The interviewer likes to hear a story that demonstrates you can face obstacles under pressure while working well with others. Speak briefly to a project and what proved challenging. For example, you can talk about a specific social media campaign that required involvement from many different departments. You realized that some of the departments were behind the deadline, so you arranged one-on-one meetings with them. You heard these workers out on how you can help them get the job done on time and scheduled follow-up meetings to check their progress. The project was delivered on time.
Monte Deere, Kizik
A fantastic problem-solving example to use in a job interview is conflict resolution. Tackling disagreements between others whether they include you or not can show off valuable skills that an employer would be interested in. It shows that you are adaptable and have excellent negotiation skills, making yourself that much more attractive as a candidate. Think of any kind of disagreement that could have stalled the progress of work and explain how you went about efficiently addressing everyone’s grievances and how the conflict was ultimately resolved.
Adrien Dissous, Babo Botanicals
Refer to a situation where, thanks to thinking out of the box, you were able to come up with a new, innovative solution never used before. Be specific about the problem in question and explain why solving it mattered. Don’t forget to mention how proud you felt once your idea turned out to be successful. The given example covers a wide range of aspects worth noting by potential employers.
Actually, you indirectly show that you are determined, creative, and willing to improve your work environment. An action-driven approach, not standing still, and willingness to find the “ways out” are precious. Therefore, they should be valued and appreciated in all workplaces as the benefits they may bring are universal.
Agata Szczepanek, Resume Now
You don’t have to be an expert to give a generic problem-solving example. Such as, you might explain your approach to a problem by pointing out a mistake made by a competitor and how you would have handled the situation differently. If the same situation occurs at your new company, mention what you learned from the mistake and how you plan to handle it.
Jon Torres, Jon Torres
To showcase your problem-solving skills, the best example is about saving money for the organization. You can think of a situation where the lack of funds could drop or decrease the company’s profits. You can start by giving the background about how the lack of funds occurred and how you solved the issue. A typical example can be as simple as a department facing a money crunch due to previous delayed payments.
This is an especially difficult time as new projects often need new and costly pieces of equipment. But the lack of funds resulted in you digging up and finding a collaborative partner for an organization that helped complete the work with minimum investments. A situation like this will make the current recruiter aware of your management skills and dedication to saving money, allowing the organization to prosper.
Nathan Hughes, Art Ignition
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17 Unbeatable Team Building Problem Solving Activities
Problem-solving is a critical skill for professionals and with team building problem-solving activities, you can sharpen your skills while having fun at the same time.
Updated on August 31, 2021
In the professional world, one thing is for sure: problem-solving is a vital skill if you want to survive and thrive. It’s a universal job skill that organizations seek in new potential employees and that managers look for when considering candidates for promotions.
But there’s a problem. According to Payscale , 60% of managers feel that new grads entering the workforce lack problem-solving abilities – making it the most commonly lacked soft skill.
Problem-solving skill needs to be practiced and perfected on an ongoing basis in order to be applied effectively when the time comes. And while there are tons of traditional approaches to becoming a better problem-solver, there’s another (much more interesting) option: team building problem solving activities.
The good news? This means learning and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And you can create a stronger team at the same time.
11 In-Person Team Building Problem Solving Activities for Your Work Group
1. cardboard boat building challenge, 2. egg drop , 3. clue murder mystery, 4. marshmallow spaghetti tower , 5. corporate escape room, 6. wild goose chase, 7. lost at sea , 8. domino effect challenge, 9. reverse pyramid , 10. ci: the crime investigators, 11. team pursuit, 5 virtual team building problem solving activities for your work group , 1. virtual escape room: mummy’s curse, 2. virtual clue murder mystery, 3. virtual escape room: jewel heist, 4. virtual code break , 5. virtual trivia time machine.
- 6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
There are a ton of incredible team building problem solving activities available. We’ve hand-picked 11 of our favorites that we think your corporate group will love too.
Split into teams and create a cardboard boat made out of just the materials provided: cardboard and tape. Team members will have to work together to engineer a functional boat that will float and sail across water without sinking. Once teams have finished making their boats, they will create a presentation to explain why their boat is the best, before putting their boats to the test. The final challenge will have teams racing their boats to test their durability! Nothing says problem-solving like having to make sure you don’t sink into the water!
Every day at work, you’re forced to make countless decisions – whether they’re massively important or so small you barely think about them.
But your ability to effectively make decisions is critical in solving problems quickly and effectively.
With a classic team building problem solving activity like the Egg Drop, that’s exactly what your team will learn to do.
For this activity, you’ll need some eggs, construction materials, and a place you wouldn’t mind smashing getting dirty with eggshells and yolks.
The goal of this activity is to create a contraption that will encase an egg and protect it from a fall – whether it’s from standing height or the top of a building. But the challenge is that you and your team will only have a short amount of time to build it before it’s time to test it out, so you’ll have to think quickly!
To make it even more challenging, you’ll have to build the casing using only simple materials like:
- Plastic wrap
- Rubber bands
- Popsicle sticks
- Cotton balls
Feel free to have some fun in picking the materials. Use whatever you think would be helpful without making things too easy!
Give your group 15 minutes to construct their egg casing before each team drops their eggs. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height gradually to see whose created the sturdiest contraption.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using eggs for this activity, consider using another breakable alternative, such as lightbulbs for a vegan Egg Drop experience.
With Clue Murder Mystery, your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
But it won’t be easy! You’ll need to exercise your best problem-solving skills and channel your inner detectives if you want to keep this case from going cold and to get justice for the victim.
Collaboration is critical to problem solving.
Why? Because, as the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This expression reflects the fact that people are capable of achieving greater things when they work together to do so.
If you’re looking for a team building problem solving activity that helps boost collaboration, you’ll love Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower.
This game involves working in teams to build the tallest possible freestanding tower using only marshmallows, uncooked spaghetti, tape, and string.
The kicker? This all has to be done within an allotted timeframe. We recommend about thirty minutes.
For an added dimension of challenge, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower to make it a little more top heavy.
Whichever team has the highest tower when time runs out is the winner!
If you’ve never participated in an escape room, your team is missing out! It’s one of the most effective team building problem solving activities out there because it puts you and your colleagues in a scenario where the only way out is collaboratively solving puzzles and deciphering clues.
The principle is simple: lock your group in a room, hide the key somewhere in that room, and have them work through challenges within a set time frame. Each challenge will lead them one step closer to finding the key and, ultimately, their escape.
At Outback, we offer “done-for-you” escape rooms where we’ll transform your office or meeting room so you don’t have to worry about:
- Seeking transportation for your team
- Capacity of the escape rooms
- High costs
- Excessive planning
That way, you and your team can simply step inside and get to work collaborating, using creative problem solving, and thinking outside the box.
In this smartphone-based scavenger hunt team building activity , your group will split into teams and complete fun challenges by taking photos and videos around the city. Some examples of challenges you can do in this activity are:
- Parkour: Take a picture of three team members jumping over an object that’s at least waist-high.
- Beautiful Mind: Snap a photo of a team member proving a well-known mathematical theorem on a chalkboard.
- Puppy Love: Take a photo of all of your team members petting a stranger’s dog at the same time.
It takes a ton of critical thinking and problem-solving to be crowned the Wild Goose Chase Champions!
Can you imagine a higher-pressure situation than being stranded at sea in a lifeboat with your colleagues?
With this team building problem solving activity, that’s exactly the situation you and your group will put yourselves. But by the time the activity is over, you’ll have gained more experience with the idea of having to solve problems under pressure – a common but difficult thing to do.
Here’s how it works.
Each team member will get a six-columned chart where:
- The first column lists the survival items each team has on hand (see the list below)
- The second column is empty so that each team member can rank the items in order of importance for survival
- The third column is for group rankings
- The fourth column is for the “correct” rankings, which are revealed at the end of the activity
- The fifth and sixth columns are for the team to enter thee difference between their individual and correct scores and the team and correct rankings
Within this activity, each team will be equipped with the following “survival items,” listed below in order of importance, as well as a pack of matches:
- A shaving mirror (this can be used to signal passing ships using the sun)
- A can of gas (could be used for signaling as it could be put in the water and lit with the pack of matches)
- A water container (for collecting water to re-hydrate)
- Emergency food rations (critical survival food)
- One plastic sheet (can be helpful for shelter or to collect rainwater)
- Chocolate bars (another food supply)
- Fishing rods (helpful, but no guarantee of catching food)
- Rope (can be handy, but not necessarily essential for survival)
- A floating seat cushion (usable as a life preserver)
- Shark repellant (could be important when in the water)
- A bottle of rum (could be useful for cleaning wounds)
- A radio (could be very helpful but there’s a good chance you’re out of range)
- A sea chart (this is worthless without navigation equipment)
- A mosquito net (unless you’ve been shipwrecked somewhere with a ton of mosquitos, this isn’t very useful)
To get the activity underway, divide your group into teams of five and ask each team member to take ten minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance in the respective column. Then, give the full team ten minutes as a group to discuss their individual rankings together and take group rankings, listed in that respective column. Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with those of the group as a whole.
Finally, read out the correct order according to the US Coast Guard, listed above.
The goal of this activity is for everyone to be heard and to come to a decision together about what they need most to survive.
If your team works remotely, you can also do this activity online. Using a video conferencing tool like Zoom , you can bring your group together and separate teams into “break-out rooms” where they’ll take their time individually and then regroup together. At the end, you can bring them back to the full video conference to go through the answers together.
Many problems are intricately complex and involve a ton of moving parts. And in order to solve this type of problem, you need to be able to examine it systematically, one piece at a time.
Especially in the business world, many problems or challenges involve multiple different teams or departments working through their respective portions of a problem before coming together in the end to create a holistic solution.
As you can imagine, this is often easier said than done. And that’s why it’s so important to practice this ability.
With a collaborative team building problem solving activity like Domino Effect Challenge, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as you and your group work to create a massive, fully functional chain reaction machine.
Here’s how it goes.
Your group will break up into teams, with each team working to complete their own section of a massive “Rube Goldberg” machine. Then, all teams will regroup and assemble the entire machine together. You’ll need to exercise communication, collaboration, and on-the-fly problem solving in order to make your chain reaction machine go off without a hitch from start to finish.
Being a great problem-solver means being adaptable and creative. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy team building problem solving activity, you’ll love the reverse pyramid.
The idea here is simple: break your group out into small teams and then stand in the form of a pyramid.
Your challenge is to flip the base and the peak of the pyramid – but you can only move three people in order to do so.
Alternatively, rather than doing this activity with people as the pyramid, you can do another version – the Pyramid Build – using plastic cups instead.
This version is a little bit different. Rather than flipping the base of a pyramid to the top, you’ll need to build the pyramid instead–but in reverse, starting from the top cup and working down.
With this version, you’ll need 36 cups and one table per group. We recommend groups of five to seven people. Give your group 20 to 30 minutes to complete the activity.
To get started, place one cup face down. Then, lift that cup and place the subsequent two cups underneath it.
The real challenge here? You can only lift your pyramid by the bottom row in order to put a new row underneath – and only one person at a time can do the lifting. The remaining group members will need to act quickly and work together in order to add the next row so that it will balance the rest of the pyramid.
If any part of your pyramid falls, you’ll need to start over. Whichever team has the most complete pyramid when time runs out will be the winner!
The value of being able to approach problems analytically can’t be overstated. Because when problems arise, the best way to solve them is by examining the facts and making a decision based on what you know.
With CI: The Crime Investigators, this is exactly what your team will be called upon to do as you put your detective’s hats on and work to solve a deadly crime.
You’ll be presented with evidence and need to uncover and decipher clues. And using only the information at your disposal, you’ll need to examine the facts in order to crack the case.
Like many of our team building problem solving activities, CI: The Crime Investigators is available in a hosted format, which can take place at your office or an outside venue, as well as a virtually-hosted format that uses video conferencing tools, or a self-hosted version that you can run entirely on your own.
Each member of your team has their own unique strengths and skills. And by learning to combine those skills, you can overcome any challenge and solve any problem. With Team Pursuit, you and your team together to tackle challenges as you learn new things about one another, discover your hidden talents, and learn to rely on each other.
This team building problem solving activity is perfect for high-energy groups that love to put their heads together and work strategically to solve problems as a group.
If you and your team are working remotely, don’t worry. You still have a ton of great virtual team building problem solving options at your disposal.
In this virtual escape room experience, your team will be transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. You’ll have to work together to uncover clues and solve complex challenges to lift the ancient curse.
You’ve probably never heard of a man named Neil Davidson. But your group will need to come together to solve the mystery of his murder by analyzing clues, resolving challenges, and figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a deadly crime.
This activity will challenge you and your group to approach problems analytically, read between the lines, and use critical thinking in order to identify a suspect and deliver justice.
If you and your team like brainteasers, then Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist will be a big hit.
Here’s the backstory.
There’s been a robbery. Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.
Together, you’ll need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.
With Virtual Code Break, you and your team can learn to be adaptive and dynamic in your thinking in order to tackle any new challenges that come your way. In this activity, your group will connect on a video conferencing platform where your event host will split you out into teams. Together, you’ll have to adapt your problem-solving skills as you race against the clock to tackle a variety of mixed brainteaser challenges ranging from Sudoku to puzzles, a game of Cranium, riddles, and even trivia.
Curious to see how a virtual team building activity works? Check out this video on a Virtual Clue Murder Mystery in action.
Step into the Outback Time Machine and take a trip through time, from pre-pandemic 21st century through the decades all the way to the 60’s.
This exciting, fast-paced virtual trivia game, packed with nostalgia and good vibes, is guaranteed to produce big laughs, friendly competition, and maybe even some chair-dancing.
Your virtual game show host will warm up guests with a couple of “table hopper rounds” (breakout room mixers) and split you out into teams. Within minutes, your home office will be transformed into a game show stage with your very own game show buzzers!
And if your team loves trivia, check out our list of the most incredible virtual trivia games for work teams for even more ideas.
6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
If your remote team is eager to socialize, have some fun as a group, and channel their competitive spirit, we’ve got just the thing for you! With Virtual Jeoparty Social, you and your colleagues will step into your very own virtual Jeopardy-style game show—equipped with a buzzer button, a professional actor as your host, and an immersive game show platform! Best of all, this game has been infused with an ultra-social twist: players will take part in a unique social mixer challenge between each round.
With the right team building problem solving activities, you can help your team sharpen their core skills to ensure they’re prepared when they inevitably face a challenge at work. And best of all, you can have fun in the process.
Do you have any favorite team building activities for building problem-solving skills? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below!
Learn More About Team Building Problem Solving Activities
For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
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Are you stuck with workplace problems that you can't solve? Make your problem front and center. When you say that you're “a firefighter," you don't mean the firefighter who runs into buildings with fires blazing. You're a small-business owner, and you've put out your share of fires – or your share of "work-related problems" – every day.
It’s fair to assume that your "problem-solving skills" will improve, as you climb the corporate ladder. You can also speed up your learning curve by reviewing some of the more common problems that new business owners face – as well as those faced by the problem-solvers – who have a few more years under their firefighting belt.
Some Work-Related Problems Transcend Lists
You might say that some of these "problem-solving examples" in the workplace could overlap. You may be right. For example, both new and experienced business owners must “hire talented people.” This issue wastes no time in demanding the attention of a new business owner. Similarly, delegating responsibility is always front and center. But with so much else on your plate during the early days of launching a business, hiring and delegating are both important.
You get the idea.
You should also know that the suggested solutions are intended to kick-start your thinking process: Add to them and personalize them to make them your own. You should be well on your way to developing your own repertoire of "problem-solving methods in the workplace."
Common Work-Related Problems Among New Businesses
Problem 1 : Making quality time to communicate with your employees.
Solve this problem by setting the bar of communication high. Whenever you can, communicate face-to-face. Phone calls, emails and texts are OK in a pinch, but they are a poor substitute for a fully present exchange.
Problem 2: Setting appropriate goals and expectations.
Solve it by referring to job descriptions to ensure that your employees understand the basics. Then, for special projects and ancillary goals, convene a brainstorming session, and set goals as a team. Your employees may surprise you by setting tougher goals for themselves than you would.
Problem 3: Proving yourself to a new team – and maybe even yourself.
Solve it sharing your own job description with your employees. Seriously; and if you don't have one, draft one. It could be a wake-up call like no other. Communicate your priorities, and above all else: do what you say you're going to do.
Problem 4 : Encouraging productivity and creativity.
Solve it by finding out how your employees work best: starting work at the crack of dawn, working in teams, working from home occasionally or coming in on weekends to work when nobody else is in the office. They're all different, so they're bound to have different preferences. Accommodate those you can, and that accommodation should repay you tenfold.
Problem 5 : Managing your time.
Solve it by stopping the juxtaposition in its tracks (i.e., letting time manage you). This will undoubtedly be one of the most vexing "work-related problems" you will face – and you'll probably swing back and forth like a pendulum between successes and setbacks. Several proactive steps will buttress the former: keeping track of appointments in a calendar, creating a daily to-do list to stay focused, setting aside certain blocks of time to read and reply to emails and freeing yourself from work for at least 15 minutes a day for private “think time.”
Problem 6: Creating brand awareness.
Solve it by hitting the ground running, with exhaustive outreach efforts, creative public relations and promotional events, active blogging and an inbound marketing program that's second to none. Amidst such fertile ground – “watered” by discipline and persistence – your brand should grow in no time.
Problem 7: Generating leads.
Solve it by optimizing your website – your most important and potent sales tool. Each page should be built around a keyword (or two), steering visitors to landing pages and nudging visitors to take action – such as providing their email address. And your published blogs should always include a call to action. Generating leads is another of those ongoing "work-related problems ." But it should provide some semblance of consolation so that readers will believe that when it's optimized right, your website can generate leads while you sleep.
Problem 8: Balancing growth and quality.
Solve it by deciding which is more important: product (or service) perfection or customer service perfection. Of course, there's arguably no such thing as “perfection.” And of course it's a lousy choice to have to make. But as a new small-business owner, you can bet that you will face this tough choice, whether you're reviewing a core product (or service) or an ancillary feature, such as your marketing content. If it helps, many “big business types” say it's more important to focus on customers, no matter what. Growth should spring from putting their priorities first.
Problem 9 : Hiring talented people.
Solve it by refusing to settle for anything less than great – not merely good – employees. You probably have “ideal personas” for your target customers. Why not create personas for each position on your team to ensure a good culture and role fit? Your employees represent your biggest investment, and replacing them is costly.
Problem 10 : Asking for help.
Solve it by identifying a mentor whom you can consult for advice. The sooner you do this as a new business owner, the better; the mentor will be in a better position to get a broad opinion of you and your fledgling business. If nobody immediately comes to mind, turn to your local chamber of commerce, a community college or to local business groups for potential candidates.
Common Work-Related Problems Among More Experienced Business Owners
Problem 1: Complying with laws and regulations.
Solve it by subscribing to relevant news feeds, reading the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Law Guide and, perhaps above all else, hiring a competent business attorney.
Problem 2: Attending training and development sessions, including for you.
Solve it by making it a priority, incorporating benchmarks on employee evaluations and perhaps by offering incentives. But you may not have to. Challenged employees are usually the ones who stay on the job the longest and are the most loyal and productive.
Problem 3: Developing leaders.
Solve this problem by constantly looking for opportunities to give employees special assignments that challenge them. Also, enrolling them in regular leadership development programs will do volumes to ingrain a company culture that prizes creative leadership.
Problem 4: Delegating.
Solve this problem by forcing yourself to isolate tasks that don't require your higher level thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as your other talents. After all, you bring distinctive skills to your business – and the more time you spend on tasks that only you can perform – the more productive your business will become. If you can't delegate in-house – then outsource tasks that you can.
Problem 5 : Responding to changing marketing tactics.
Solve it , while also remaining true to your marketing plan – the plan that outlines your overall strategy. Any new tactics should complement and advance your strategy. It can be too easy to become swept up in “knee-jerk” or “follow-the-pack” marketing. Nobody likes to miss out on a hot, profitable trend – but trends fade – and tactics aren't what drives marketing. If a tactic suits your strategy, use it. In addition to “firefighter,” you'll become another small-business owner adjective – "risk-taker."
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Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. Then she launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues and especially “all things marketing.”
Five steps for business problem solving, what do "time vampires" mean in the business world, being proactive vs. reactive, eight sources of conflict, what is the difference between programmed & unprogrammed decisions from a business perspective, how to manage employees who are making lots of mistakes, ethical issues facing hr, examples of strengths in the workplace, description of how managers typically change in their first year in the job, most popular.
- 1 Five Steps for Business Problem Solving
- 2 What Do "Time Vampires" Mean in the Business World?
- 3 Being Proactive Vs. Reactive
- 4 Eight Sources of Conflict
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You might say that some of these "problem-solving examples" in the workplace could overlap. You may be right. For example, both new and experienced business