A Time When You Used Logic To Solve A Problem (Examples)
Sharing a time when you used logic and good judgment to solve a problem seems easy, but many job-seekers get stumped when asked this during an interview.
This helpful guide covers why interviewers love asking this question, and how you can answer it effectively.
Why Interviewers Want to Hear an Example of Solving a Problem with Logic
It doesn’t matter whether you work in finance or are applying to become a top-level marketing executive. You’ll face numerous challenges that don’t have an easy fix. Some obstacles you’ll encounter require creative thinking and an out-of-the-box approach to resolve.
Interviewers want to know that you’re up for the challenge and capable of using your critical-thinking skills to tackle anything the position might throw at you. This question gives interviewers more insight into how you think and what approaches you use to solve problems. Providing a compelling answer will show hiring managers how you will perform in this role and what you have to bring to the company.
This question might seem overly generic or irrelevant, but it provides a deep look into how you work and what you do to overcome unanticipated challenges. No job is smooth sailing, and you often don’t know what problems will occur until you face them. How you respond and what you do to move forward makes a huge difference.
Companies want people who can analyze a situation and apply solid logic to every unexpected issue. They want to hire individuals who approach those moments logically and clearly, making your response more important than you might think.
How to Give a Good Example
Your goal when answering this question should be to highlight your critical-thinking skills while reassuring hiring managers that you have what it takes to confront any problem that comes your way as you work. Bland answers that you make up on the spot won’t cut it. A good response takes careful thought and plenty of preparation.
Here are some tips to help you develop a knock-out answer that leaves a positive impression on interviewers and hiring managers alike.
1. Keep the Situation Work Related
You want to keep your response work-related when sharing examples of using logic and good judgment to solve a problem. It’s pretty easy to find problems you solved in your personal life, but none of that is relevant to the job you’re trying to get. Interviewers don’t want to hear about how you used logic to fix a leaking faucet or resolve a conflict with your kids.
Keep your response within the scope of your career. Think back about your previous positions and the challenges you faced during your tenure at old companies. You’re bound to remember many problems you’d be proud to share.
One of the best approaches is to start by thinking back to your biggest wins. An example of this would be resolving a production problem that was costing your company money. Whatever it might be, the things you’re proud of at work likely required a fair amount of logic and good judgment to make happen.
Those are the moments interviewers want to hear about the most. If you don’t have an extensive professional track-record yet, experiences from your academic life can apply.
You want to paint a picture of how you would apply your critical-thinking skills and logical approach to this new position. The best way to do that is to talk about occasions that happened in a work setting.
2. Find a Connection to the Position You’re Applying for
Another thing you can do to make your logical skills known is to connect your answer to the job you want. This can seem a little tricky at first, but it’s doable with a little bit of brainstorming.
Take a look at the job description to fully understand the type of work you’ll do and the expectations of the hiring manager. With that information in mind, you can better explain your previous experiences and make them fit into this new role.
Consider how similar problems might occur at this company. You can also find ways to describe how the logic you used when solving old problems will help you in the future.
For example, if you overcame production issues to improve productivity at your old company, the skills you utilized to make that happen can apply elsewhere. You likely had to scrutinize existing processes and identify bottlenecks that caused delays. Those are universal skills you can take anywhere.
Even if you have no say in production at the new company, your attention to detail and ability to spot potential problems in workflows will come in handy. Figure out how your past experiences will help you in the new job, and always bring your response back to the new position.
3. Keep It Concise
This question has the potential of being quite detailed, but you must avoid rambling on and providing more details than you need. Interviewers are busy, and they don’t have time to listen to you tell a long-winded story.
Lengthier answers can be problematic for a few reasons, but the biggest is that they often come off as incoherent. You should be able to provide your response quickly and concisely. It shows that you’re well-prepared, can think on your feet, and know how to communicate well.
In many cases, longer responses get a little fluffy. They’re usually full of too much detail that giveoverwhelm the interviewer and take away from evaluating your capabilities.
Keep things short and get straight to the point.
Consider using the STAR method. With the STAR method, you provide context to let interviewers in on the situation, explain the task you had to do, describe the action you took, and detail the positive result that came after.
Last but not least, practice!
This is not a question that you should figure out on the fly. Creating an answer on the spot leads to long, incoherent answers. Effective preparation is how you keep things concise when giving examples of how you used logic to solve a problem.
Think long and hard about the experience you want to talk about before your interview. Develop your response on paper and detail the points you want to hit. Then, practice reciting it a few different ways.
Avoid having a written response that you can recite word for word. Those responses seem forced, inauthentic, and over-rehearsed. Instead, know what you want to say and take time to refine your answer.
Practice it with several people, and you can get comfortable and confidently provide your response. Even recording yourself on video allows you to evaluate your answer.
Mistakes to Avoid with Your Answer
Now that you know how to respond, let’s discuss some common mistakes. Like any other interview question, the way you answer can make or break your chances of moving further in the hiring process.
When giving examples of times when you used logic to solve a problem, avoid making these mistakes if you want to stay in the running!
Don’t Talk About Personal Matters
Like we briefly mentioned earlier, you want to keep the experiences you talk about work-related.
Personal triumphs don’t provide much information for interviewers to understand your work processes. While there might be plenty of moments in your personal life when you used good judgment, focus on the ones that occurred at work.
Don’t Bad-Mouth Your Old Employer or Colleagues
Never resort to speaking ill of your former workplace. It can be tempting, especially when you’re talking about overcoming challenges. However, be careful of how you word things.
Word travels fast, and you don’t want to burn any bridges. Talking bad about your old boss will only harm your chances. Those words can get back to your former employer, ruining the good rapport you left with.
Plus, bad-mouthing can be problematic for hiring managers. Who’s to say that you won’t turn around and do the same thing to this company if you leave for another job in the future? Keep negativity out of your answer to avoid causing drama.
Don’t Enter the Interview Unprepared
One of the worst things you can do when asked this question is shrug your shoulders and say, “I can’t think of anything right now.” Where do you go from there? That’s an embarrassing mistake that can potentially ruin your chances of getting a job offer.
Prepare your response early and know what you plan to say. Practice it frequently and speak confidently.
Don’t Get Too Pompous
Finally, try not to brag too much.
It’s fine to be proud of your work, and you may have some awe-inspiring stories of the times you used logic to solve a problem. You can show your pride and recognize that you made a difference, but it’s wise to tiptoe that line and stay on the side of humility. You can do this by simply stating what the situation was and the steps you took to resolve the situation.
No one wants to work with someone who thinks they can do no wrong. Boastful behavior will only show that you’re not a good fit for the work environment. Stay humble and focus on the facts.
Your response to this question will depend entirely on your workplace experiences, and everyone will have something unique to say. However, you can use these examples as a guide for developing your response.
In our first example, the interviewer is applying for an executive position that requires regular good judgment and decision-making. To display their attention to detail and critical-thinking skills, their response revolves around an experience that required them to go against the grain.
“In my last position, I was responsible for choosing a new manufacturer for one of our products. The company was looking for ways to reduce costs in the supply chain, and it was my job to find a more cost-effective manufacturer without lowering quality.
To better understand our needs, I analyzed our current processes, did market research, and performed an in-depth quantitative analysis. During my findings, I noticed that switching manufacturers at that time would actually cost our business more in the long run.
I took the initiative to work with our existing manufacturer to renegotiate our terms. After presenting my findings, we implemented my recommended changes and experienced a 20 percent decrease in manufacturing expenses.”
The next example we have focuses on common retail problems. The candidate had an experience that involved customer complaints and non-functioning promo codes. They detail how they determined what was causing issues and how it led to improvements moving forward.
“A few years ago, I was a manager at a popular retail store that frequently sent promotional codes to customers on their mobile devices. The shoppers can then use those codes to get discounts on in-store purchases.
During one of our promotional periods, we encountered an issue with codes that didn’t work. Despite having legitimate emails from the company, none of the customer codes worked.
After many attempts, I decided to manually input the codes, paying close attention to spelling and capitalization. I discovered that the system was only recognizing codes if every letter was capitalized. After successfully getting the system to identify three different codes, I validated this was the problem.
I contacted IT to inform them of the issue, and they quickly resolved the problem. The team used my findings to correct the error, allowing codes to go through smoothly. I found out later that multiple stores were receiving complaints, and my solution helped them fix the problem.”
In this example, the job-seeker works in healthcare. By using logic and good judgment they were able to correctly diagnose a patient that was misdiagnosed multiple times.
“In healthcare, I use logic frequently. One notable experience that comes to mind is when I treated a patient who initially came in with a stomach virus. They had seen previous healthcare providers and received medications. However, the condition wasn’t getting better.
After speaking with the patient about the problem, I discovered that they had eaten at a local restaurant multiple times the previous week. I asked the patient to tell me what they had eaten and to get a copy of their menu. After reading the fine print, I realized that many dishes contained walnuts.
After some additional testing, we realized that the patient wasn’t suffering from a stomach virus. Instead, they had a mild walnut allergy that caused the symptoms. We were able to provide better treatment and help the patient avoid similar reactions in the future.”
Giving an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem isn’t tricky. All it takes is an understanding of the intention behind the question, and a little bit of practice.
Take some time to find an example that works, practice a bit, and you’ll be ready to share it during the interview!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.