How to answer "Can you tell me about a time when you had to think creatively to overcome a challenge?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This

Employers ask questions that will help them assess a candidate's critical thinking skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities. When they ask, "Can you tell me about a time when you had to think creatively to overcome a challenge?" they want to know how you handle adversity. They are interested in knowing your approach to tackling problems and how you are able to think outside the box. This question is a great opportunity to demonstrate your ability to solve problems with limited resources, come up with innovative solutions and adapt to different situations.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question, you want to provide a clear and concise response that showcases your creativity and problem-solving skills. Here are a few tips on how to answer the question:

  • Provide a Context: Start by providing a context of the situation you faced. Explain the challenge you were presented with, and the circumstances that surrounded the challenge.
  • Explain Your Approach: Next, explain your approach to solving the problem and how you went about thinking of creative solutions. It is important to clearly articulate the steps you took to overcome the challenge.
  • Highlight Your Creativity: Showcase the creative solutions you came up with to tackle the problem. Describe how you were able to think outside the box and generate new ideas to solve the problem.
  • Explain the Outcome: Lastly, explain how your creative thinking led to a successful outcome. Highlight the impact of your solution to the organization and how it helped to mitigate the challenge at hand.

Remember, the key to answering this question is to demonstrate your thought process, creativity and problem-solving abilities. Be specific and provide concrete examples that show the employer how you approach challenges in the workplace. This will allow them to assess your potential value to their organization.

Sample answers

Job interviews are the perfect opportunity to showcase your skills and experience to potential employers. One common question you may be asked is, "Can you tell me about a time when you had to think creatively to overcome a challenge?" Here are some sample answers:

  1. Bad answer: "I can't really think of any particular time when I had to think creatively to overcome a challenge."

    Why it's bad: This answer shows a lack of preparedness and creativity. Employers want to see that their candidates have faced challenges in the past and have found innovative solutions to overcome them.

  2. Good answer: "When I was working as a sales representative for XYZ company, our team was tasked with increasing sales by 25% in the next quarter. I realized that we had been relying too heavily on traditional sales methods and decided to try something new. I suggested that we host a free seminar for potential clients, where we could showcase our products and services. The event was a huge success, and we managed to exceed our sales target by 30%."

    Why it's good: This answer shows that the candidate is proactive, creative, and has excellent problem-solving skills. The specific details and outcome of this situation demonstrate how the candidate thinks outside of the box to overcome challenges.

  3. Good answer: "In my previous job as a graphic designer, a client wanted a logo design that was completely outside of our company style and brand guidelines. I knew that we needed to come up with a design that would meet the client's needs but still fit within our brand standards. I researched different design styles and came up with a unique, modern design that still incorporated our company colors and typography. The client loved it, and we ended up using that new style in other projects."

    Why it's good: This answer shows that the candidate isn't afraid of a challenge and is able to adapt to new situations. The candidate was able to think critically and creatively to solve a design problem while still maintaining the company's branding guidelines.

  4. Bad answer: "I tend to stick to the same methods that have worked for me in the past, so I haven't had to think too creatively to overcome a challenge before."

    Why it's bad: This answer demonstrates a lack of flexibility and adaptability. Employers want to see that their candidates are comfortable with taking risks and stepping outside of their comfort zones.

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