Problem solving is all about figuring out solutions to issues. Clues in the name right? It’s a pretty highly sought after skill. There’s a good chance your manager won’t really like you as a graduate if you are running to them every time you feel like you’re out of your depth. Find a solution, work it through and present it and you’ll stand a better chance showing you have the ability to be independent.
Your problem solving skills could be assessed at various stages of your application process, during psychometric tests, group activities and one-to-one interviews. Your use of logic is tested hand-in-hand with your imagination, to see if you can come up with an intelligent solution to the prescribed problem. Other things that this draws on is your level-headedness and resilience to try again if your original solution doesn’t quite work out. Analytical skills, creativity and logical thinking all help to reach a solution. As well as good teamwork skills if it’s a group task.
Problem solving skills on applications
Think of some examples of where you have solved a problem – starting with how you identified the problem, where you came up with a solution and how you implemented it. As always, examples with quantifiable results are better, and complex situations make a successful result more impressive!
How do you show your problem solving skills on your CV?
Recruiters are not looking for a list of the skills on your CV. So avoid saying saying things along the lines of “there was this tricky situation I was forced to deal with, but luckily I’m pretty good at problem solving and it wasn’t that difficult.” It’s not about claiming you have skills but showing you have them. Remember, claims mean nothing, demonstrating through examples are the way to succeed so remember to use a real world example, having multiple examples will boost your application too!
It’s good to use the STAR method and saying something along the lines of “I needed to find a solution to a complex problem X. By allocating resources Y and coming up with some innovative ideas Z I managed to overcome it successfully” – obviously using actual examples not the XYZ!
- Situation: context for the interviewer, describe the situation.
- Task: what did you aim to achieve?
- Action: explain what you did in order to complete what you set out to achieve.
- Result: make sure it’s a specific and clear event.
If you are asked a question about your problem solving skills, or set a problem during assessment centres or interviews you can use the IDEAL model to break it down and solve:
- Identify the issue
- Define the obstacles
- Examine your options
- Act on an agreed course of action
- Look at how it turns, and whether any changes need to be made.
Developing problem solving skills
Problem solving is a pretty vital skill in daily life, which makes sense as to why graduate employers are keen on graduates possessing it! It’s more than likely you’ve got a tonne of experience in problem solving with tasks such as sorting out a problem with your computer, resolving a dispute with a tricky customer, and sorting out your tight student finances!
Problem solving skills are easily developed… Try out some extracurricular activities or volunteering, these are fun things to do and help to develop your skills at the same time!
Whether you ready to add problem-solving skills to your CV or applications, or you still developing the skills, check out Magnet.me to connect with companies that are looking for someone like you!