Describe a Time When You Didn’t Know How to Solve a Problem? (With 8 Sample Interview Answers)

‘When life gives you lemon, make lemonade’ this is a saying that you must have heard every now and then. This is not just a saying but a way of life in the corporate world. This saying inspires us to tackle every obstacle to make the most of it. Your problem solving ability is something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Those problems could be professional, technical, personal or anything else. Finding a way out should be your ultimate goal.

Many companies pay you well for your problem solving skills. They will either give you a hypothetical situation to deal with or they will ask the question mentioned above. So, answering this question eloquently can make an indelible mark on the recruiter’s minds.

Describe a Time When You Didnt Know How to Solve a Problem

Tips to Answer This Question

  1. Focus on your problem-solving process. It should be as logical as it can be.
  2. Make you organizational and analytical skills the focal point of the process.
  3. Mention clearly the points that helped you make a good decision.
  4. Be ready to admit when that you can struggle sometimes to solve a problem
  5. Show that you don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed the most. This shows your humble nature.

Sample Answers to the Question

Sample Answer One

Being an accountant for last 2 years, solving problems has been the part and parcel of my life. Whenever I face a problem in moving forward in a statement or any return sheet, I try to find the roots of the problem and make the best decision possible. I have colleagues that have good experience in the field. I never hesitate to ask for help if needed.

Sample Answer Two

I led a team of 12 employees at my previous workplace. I really struggled due to the undisciplined behavior of my team members. Their approach towards work seemed almost intractable. I didn’t really know how I can boost their spirit and have a smooth work flow because firing them was not an option. I talked to my seniors and arranged to get a bonus amount for the best employee of the team. This solved my issue and made them work productively with good competitive spirit.

Sample Answer Three

Improving things without knowing how, can be very difficult but a good engineer always embraces this part of his job. I use the method of deduction to solve any problem related to quality control. This helps to get better results without interrupting the production process. After knowing the problem definition, I carry out some test to eliminate some of the hypothesis made by the team and narrow down the parameters to make better decision.

Sample Answer Four

I have worked as a system engineer for boilers for many years. Many mistakes are done everyday. Some are repeated and you could tell what is wrong by just looking at some of the coefficients on the displays. This requires a lot of experience and practice. However, there can be days when you can’t easily put proper finger on the problem. At that time, my diagnostic kit that I carry with me comes to my help. I also take help from some of my colleagues or friends who work on the same brand of boiler.

Sample Answer Five

As I am a fresher in this field and this being my first job application, I can’t really refer any problems related to work life but I faced many problems during my graduation journey. I remember being below average in java script and c programming. It was really embarrassing especially when all your friends were good at it. It was hard to start over but still I started from the basics, learned data structures and algorithm, tried to solve as many problems as I can and now I am the best in my class.

Sample Answer Six

I was always eager to help people whenever I got a chance. That’s the reason I became a social worker and now I am excited to work in your NGO which has reaches far beyond any of my experiences. I remember I was asked to raise funds for a child welfare event. Me being novice, struggled a lot to raise funds initially. I felt helpless but I never let my spirit down. I learnt few basics of digital marketing and raised a good amount that helped a lot of children in their wellbeing.

Sample Answer Seven

When I was working as the catering manager for a catering company, I was informed a night before the event about a big change in the appetizers that needed extra ingredients. I made the list of the ingredients and collected them from our regular provider. I gathered my team and started working on the strategy to make it in time. It was due to good coordination and team effort that we were able to make the appetizers ready for delivery on time.

Sample Answer Eight

At my previous work my boss used to handle the client conversations while we all worked on the project. So, it was hard to gain client trust when boss wasn’t around. Once, a client called at the office while boss was not present regarding a problem with recent project we were working on. The client was hesitant to leave the message with me as he talked with my boss. It wouldn’t have been good to keep client waiting for so long as boss wasn’t going to arrive for two days.

I told the client that I was also the part of the team handling his project and assured him that his message would reach my boss if he shared it with me. I handle the client efficiently and got off the call making him satisfied about all the problems.


An employee with good problem-solving ability is an asset for the company. Answering this question is all about highlighting your organizational and analytical skills. This could also be a chance to talk about your team spirit. While answering this question try to follow the Problem-Action-Result method. This helps you elaborate your answer efficiently. Beginning by admitting that feeling helpless is normal is a good strategy. Asking for help is also a sign of humility. So, Try to make your humility more noticable.

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