Tell Me… What Problems Have You Solved?

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by
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Ask yourself, “Why would a hiring manger ask the question “what problems have you solved?” Simple answer. Almost all hiring managers have a short-term problem. As an interviewing candidate, find out what the problem is, then position yourself as the solution. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who:
• Have solved a similar problem in another organization
• Can successfully help me solve mine
• Are at the right organizational, level, pay rate, and is ready for the job
• Are a good fit in my department and won’t be a problem child
• Can also help with longer term strategic issues we will face in the future
• Can move up the organization

How do you respond so the hiring managers see you as the answer to their prayers? Here are some techniques to give you the advantage:

1. Take the job description for the open position and identify the 5 most needed experiences, which are usually at the top of the job description. Less important items are at the bottom.
2. Tailor your resume to parallel these 5 critical items. Highlight them at the top half of your resume so it’s the first thing the hiring manager sees after your name
3. Whenever possible, use the exact words within those 5 critical items from the job description
4. Insert a measurable result you’ve achieved in solving a similar problem
5. Design your resume to show progressive skill advancements over the past few years
6. Toward the end of your resume, identify activities that show support experiences to the 5 critical items: Computer skills, association membership, awards, and so on
7. Use the same technique during your interview to match your skill sets and experiences with the stated needs of the hiring manager as defined in the position description

Most hiring managers are looking for problem solvers, but their unsaid slogan is: “Trust then verify”. Since they can’t always take the word of a candidate, the hiring manager may or may not ask: “You’ve told me what you’ve accomplished, but now tell me:
• How did you measure your results?
• Who can validate your achievements?
• What role did you play? Were you the leader, a team member or in a support function?
Be prepared to answer in a succinct and straightforward way. Don’t give incoherent answers.

If you’re a problem solver, you’re in a perfect position for an interview, as long as you are credible and can verify your achievements with solid answers. Talk about results, not activities.

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