Interview Question: Discuss Creating an Innovative Solution to a Problem

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: October 31, 2022

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Job interviews are designed to make candidates showcase their real-life abilities and examples of past successes. Your experience will likely include both traditional interview questions and behavioral questions such as ‘Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge your company/class/organization was facing. What was the challenge? What role did others play?’

When you are asked conventional interview questions- you only need to respond with specific answers that include things such as your GPA or number of years’ experience in a certain trade. Behavioral interview questions make you describe past experiences that define your personality- strengths and work ethic. Interviewers can learn from these questions your propensity to be successful in a future job and your ability to deal with difficult situations. These questions can be tricky because you have to describe real-life examples on the spot from your previous experiences.

When you get this specific question- interviewers really want to find out that you have had direct experience with solving challenging problems. They might also ask something like- ‘Describe a time when you overcame a challenge in a project with an original solution.’ Even though these questions can be difficult to answer on the spot- with the STAR method and some good preparation- you can be ready to ace your interview.

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How To answer the question: Describe a challenge you faced and how you overcame it

Good Example

1. Prepare a good example beforehand using the STAR method.

Employers want to hire people that will be able to adapt to changing conditions and help improve the quality of the workflow. Taking time before an interview to choose a memorable response will help you exhibit many of your strengths in a concise- well-formulated answer. Make sure to describe an experience that included a significant challenge and a significantly innovative solution.

Utilize the STAR method to formulate a strong answer. STAR is an acronym:

1. Situation

Describe the situation within which you performed a job or faced a challenge. It’s best to describe a relevant work situation, but it might be appropriate to discuss academic projects or volunteer work if you lack professional work experience.

2.  Task

Detail the task, goal, or responsibility you were charged with in that situation.

3. Actions

Explain the actions you took to achieve the task with specific details. Be sure to discuss your specific actions, not those of a team, colleague, or manager.

4. Results

Describe the outcome or results of the action taken. Quantify your success, if possible, and provide concrete examples of the effects of your efforts. You may also want to discuss what you learned and/or how you grew as a professional.


2. Do not describe an experience when someone else took charge.

Some of the most innovative solutions that most people have devised in their lives have come from working in groups with other people. Although you might have made a great contribution toward a solution in a group in which you were not the leader, you want to describe a situation when you took charge of creating an innovative solution. Otherwise, you will give the impression in the interview that you simply were present when someone else was innovative. You want your behavioral interview questions responses to show that you devised fresh ideas that helped your company or organization overcome difficult challenges.

Step By Step

3. Show your leadership and originality in your answer.

When an interviewer asks you this question, he or she wants to learn about your leadership in challenging situations. Make sure to clearly define your role as a leader in not only thinking up an innovative solution and being effective in putting your solution into action. Clearly outline how you worked with others and the role of others in creating the solution. Spend most of your time describing your involvement in overcoming the challenge while making sure to highlight how you lead and worked well with others in your workgroup.

Describe A challenge you faced and how you overcame it examples

At my previous job, my company had to increase production output because of higher customer demand. I was in charge of a workgroup that needed to identify how to immediately increase production without having to hire additional employees.

Because of the need, I called a meeting together with the workgroup, and we brainstormed solutions. Many in the group thought that the only solution would be to hire additional employees to meet the demand, but I knew that the company did not want to hire employees that we would have to subsequently let go.

After a lengthy discussion, I shared my idea to create additional after-hours shifts that would allow workers to get overtime. We could provide a free dinner so that workers could easily continue their shift without a long time disruption. The overtime and the free dinner would increase employee morale and help us meet the demands of increased production.

I shared this idea with management, and they implemented it immediately. We were not only able to keep up with demand, but also these shifts became a solution the company could return to using any time this need for increased production recurred.

Answering challenging behavioral interview questions effectively requires careful planning and practice. Your specific example will showcase your strengths and help you get the job.

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