an interview is a good chance to evaluate how candidates approach difficult situations and by asking problem-solving questions you can separate those that are results orientated from those that crumble under pressure. that being said, this can be hard to assess when you first meet someone, so here are 10 problem-solving competency questions to solve your problem of what to ask: this question tests their problem-solving ability. there are three steps to solving a problem: a good answer should show that the applicant took the initiative, didn’t act thoughtlessly and was willing to ask questions and work as a team. every business has problems, both minor and major, and you should be able to trust your employees to identify and solve them. a strong answer showcases that the candidate is considered in their decision-making and has a formal process of thought, instead of becoming overwhelmed and acting rashly. you should be looking for those that have a formalised process that makes sense, and that shows that they don’t just ask for help the entire time. therefore, a good answer should show the candidate was diplomatic and constructive – someone that helps their colleagues to solve problems and doesn’t just highlight them.
you don’t want to hire someone that is constantly asking for help and knowing that a candidate has given some thought to potential strategies will provide you with assurance. you want a candidate to be appropriate when discussing their current (or former role) and be positive. ideally, you want an answer that shows the following: this question tests their creative problem-solving skills and initiative. creative initiative is a definite bonus as you don’t want an office filled with like-minded people, after all, it’s the new ideas that change the world. this question tests their ability to identify problems and solve them. this question test their self-awareness and dedication. this is a hard problem-solving interview question so a successful response is a testament to their ability.
moreover, this test provides an objective data point for the interview process. tests can be used to screen candidates prior to the actual interview process, as a route to pass from one stage to another, or as a substitute for another case interview. typically, only candidates whose accomplishments have persuaded the recruiters that the candidates might be a good fit are invited to take the test. this test is the only obstacle between the candidate and the invitation to an actual case interview. if the firm is doing the selection process in a single day, candidates could be asked to take a test on-site followed by case interviews to assess the candidates’ overall performance.
in general, it is challenging for candidates to compensate for poor test performance by a superior case interview performance by itself. one of the slots in their schedule could be for the pst and only 1 or 2 candidates take the pst at the same time. this setup actually gives slightly lower importance to the pst: here, it can be assumed that, although a good test result cannot substitute a poor interview performance, a borderline pst candidate that delivers a series of stellar interviews still might get an overall pass. tests that are highly specific to consulting typically design their questions to be similar to problems that you might encounter in face-to-face case interviews or can even be derived from real-life projects as a consultant. their questions are typically designed to mirror a case study with a hypothetical client (e.g., ‘burritoco’). tests that are not consulting-specific typically use questions that are not designed to mirror interview cases or even business problems.
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