Interview Question: Fixing Small Problems Before They Become Big Ones

Nilda Melissa Diaz
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, Career Advice Contributor Last Updated: October 26, 2022
Give An Example Of Finding A Small Solution To A Bigger Problem

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You might be expecting questions of various different formats as you are going into a job interview. Behavioral interview questions are a type of question that is important for most job interviews- because they reveal to an interviewer how you have dealt with past experiences- and the way you answer gives future employers an idea of your potential success with their company.

While you may be able to plan a straightforward response for a more typical question that asks what your goals are with the company or about your GPA- questions such as ‘We can sometimes identify a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example(s) of how you have done this’ require reflection and forethought- and thus can be more difficult than other questions you may face.

When you get asked this question- it may also be in a different format- for example- ‘Talk about a time when you identified an issue that was small and dealt with it before it became a big problem.’ When interviewers ask this question- they want to know about your ability to discern problems in the early stages- and also to know what you prioritize- how you take action- and how quickly you do so. You can prepare yourself to answer questions like this one by studying tips and advice and example answers like the ones below.

How to Answer the ‘We Can Sometimes Identify a Small Problem and Fix It Before It Becomes a Major Problem. Give an Example(s) of How You Have Done This’ Behavioral Interview Question

Demonstrate your perceptiveness

With this question- it is most impressive if you are able to distinguish a time when you noticed something that others would have let go by without taking action. If the example you provide is of a time when your boss pointed out a small problem and you were the first one to do something about it- that example shows how you fixed it- but not that you were able to identify it. Think of a time when you were the first one to notice something. Maybe you brought it to your manager’s attention in a team setting- or maybe you overcame a personal hurdle. Just try to show how you were able to point out the issue at that time- and then focus on what you did.

Think of an example that exemplifies your strong qualities

You may have numerous examples come to mind when you answer behavioral interview questions dealing with your problem-solving abilities. When choosing which story to relate- keep in mind the job you are applying for and which qualities you advertised on your resume. If you want to show strong analytical skills- think of a time when your analytical ability helped to identify or solve the problem. If you want to focus on your teamwork- talk about an example that involves a team effort or a time when your solution helped the entire group you were working with. The best kinds of answers to this question will focus on useful qualities and also recall a situation involving a specific problem that occurs in the kind of job you are applying for. The more experience you have- the easier it will be to come up with a job-specific- quality-focused answer.

Utilize the STAR method

The STAR method allows you to highlight a specific instance that exemplifies the answer you are trying to provide. Anytime you are asked behavioral interview questions- you should answer them using this technique. STAR stands for these elements:

  • Situation or Task
  • Action
  • Resolution

The way to properly execute the STAR method is to first think of a concrete example that is relevant to the question you are being asked. At that point you can play through the action that you took in that situation and explain it to the interviewer in an appealing way. Make sure to follow through and give attention to describing the results of the action you took.

Sample ‘We Can Sometimes Identify a Small Problem and Fix It Before It Becomes a Major Problem. Give an Example(s) of How You Have Done This’ STAR Interview Answer

The example I am going to provide actually fits perfectly with the software engineer position I am applying for. When I was working on a programming task for my last company, I spotted a line of code that would have caused a deletion of the entire batch of files in the system if the program had been allowed to run. I was the only one who was able to pick up on this, due to my habit of meticulously reading through every update before we released it. I immediately pointed out the issue to my superiors. I also recommended an efficient editing procedure that would change the error in the code to a functioning pathway. This change was implemented, and after a test run the program was deemed a huge success. This saved our company thousands of dollars, and it is what led to my promotion.

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