Job Success Series: Top Non-Job-Specific Skills that Employers Want (Skill 3 of 5)

On the job hunt? Get ready for a question like this in your next interview:

“Tell me about a problem you faced at work and the steps you took to solve it.”

No matter what type of work you’re seeking – administrative, production, IT, accounting, HR, marketing or any other – you must be able to solve problems to succeed.

So while an employer will undoubtedly consider your experience, education and other qualifications, they will also look for evidence of effective critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Make sure they find the proof they need.

Today, PrideStaff continues our series of posts for job seekers on the transferable job skills today’s employers want most.

If you missed the first two installments in this series, read how to showcase your self-confidence/assertiveness and how to highlight your time management skills here.

Skill 3: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Regardless of the types of challenges you face in your job, success likely depends on your ability to think through problems when they arise and help develop solutions.  Today’s hiring managers are looking for candidates who can:

  • Identify the root cause. When a problem crops up, good employees look beyond the “symptoms” to determine the underlying factors or causes contributing to the issue.
  • Identify appropriate steps to solve problems. Once the root cause is understood, individuals should be able to create a plan to solve it, outlining the specific steps to be taken.
  • Think creatively. When a challenge is tough, true problem-solvers put their thinking caps on and don’t give up when a solution is not immediately apparent. Rather than giving in to frustration, they brainstorm a range of potential alternatives to remedy the situation.
  • Know when to handle it – and when to get help. An employer will look for evidence that candidates know which issues they can tackle themselves – and when/how to get additional assistance or resources to address bigger problems.
  • Implement the solution. Actions speak louder than words. Good employees follow through on their proposed solutions and don’t rest until the issue is fully resolved.
  • Learn from the experience. Once the issue is resolved, smart problem-solvers reflect on the situation and identify ways to prevent the problem from recurring.

How can you highlight your problem-solving skills during your next job interview?

  • Be ready to answer common critical thinking and problem-solving interview questions, focusing on scenarios related to the job you want.
  • Prepare and practice. Come to your interview armed with two or three clear examples of a problem you experienced at work (or in school, if you’re new to the workforce), the steps you took to solve it, and what you did to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

Shorten your search for work with PrideStaff.

Looking for a job? PrideStaff’s recruiting experts can make your search more productive and efficient. With offices from coast to coast, we offer temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire opportunities at all skill and experience levels.  Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.