Assessing Problem-Solving Skills in IT Interviews: Real-World Scenarios and Solutions

Problem-solving skills are critical to any position across a number of industries. But some jobs may experience more problems than others. That includes the IT industry. To maintain company software, secure data, or troubleshoot employee technical difficulties, IT professionals require an expertise level of problem-solving skills.

You can assess problem-solving skills in IT through the interview process by asking questions that allow candidates to express how they would handle specific scenarios. While they have an opportunity to showcase their knowledge, you can pick out good problem solvers for your team.

Keep reading to learn more about assessing problem-solving skills in IT interviews.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills can mean different things, from an employee’s ability to manage unexpected challenges in the workplace to strategizing how to improve errors within operation processes. Companies rely on individuals who can assess problems and develop strategies to resolve them.

Fortunately, problem-solving skills are developed through diverse experiences and don’t necessarily require formal education. But what are the different types of problem-solving skills?

How do you know what type of developer you need? Download Insight Global's Software Developer Hiring Guide

Types of Problem-Solving Skills

Before assessing problem-solving skills within prospective candidates, you must determine which kinds are of the highest priority. Here are some examples of problem-solving skills to consider within candidates.

1. Analysis

Before anyone can orchestrate a strategy to solve a problem, they must identify it. Doing so requires analytical skills. Candidates must be able to analyze a situation, understand the issues, and prioritize areas of improvement. Determining business problems is possible through data, cause-and-effect analysis, or sometimes, by peers or colleagues.

2. Research

Once aware of a problem, candidates must be able to research it. Depending on the issue, research may include pulling data reports, gathering information about products or services, evaluating competitors, analyzing performance, or staying updated on industry trends. Collecting more information helps individuals brainstorm the best way to solve the problem.

3. Creativity and Critical Thinking

Devising potential strategies for problem-solving is next. That requires both creativity and critical thinking. Within the IT industry, problems should be resolved from an analytical, creative, and practical perspective. Though this can be a team effort, candidates should also be comfortable formulating potential plans alone.

4. Decision-Making

Once a candidate has a few plans drawn up, they must have the decision-making skills necessary for choosing the best possible strategy. Employees often present plans to someone in a managerial position. But, you must be confident in a candidate’s ability to make the tough calls and drive decisions with minimal supervision, depending on the role.

5. Communication

The last problem-solving skill to look for in candidates is communication. Can they communicate the problem to clients or stakeholders? Are they effectively communicating the best possible ways to improve those problems? Communication is essential to problem-solving in any industry.

Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Necessary?

Problem-solving skills are necessary for many reasons. For one, they determine the appropriate course of action, prioritize work tasks, and initiate process improvement. But they’re also required day-to-day.

For example, IT professionals are typically responsible for troubleshooting software errors or fixing employee computer issues. It’s challenging to troubleshoot technological problems and system errors while managing other daily tasks. The more advanced a candidate’s problem-solving skills are, the more effectively they can handle any situations that may arise.

But how can you assess the efficiency of your candidate’s IT problem-solving skills? Well, there’s no better time to evaluate than during an interview.

IT Interview Questions to Help You Assess Problem-Solving Skills

Interviews help evaluate soft skills or perform technical skills assessments. But they also help determine problem-solving skills.

During the interview, you can ask IT candidates questions and pose real-world problems to successfully assess their solutions. Here are ten questions to ask your IT candidates to better assess their problem-solving skills:

  • Describe a situation where you had to troubleshoot a software error without supervision and walk us through your troubleshooting process.
  • What is your approach to solving problems, and what steps do you take to decide on the best solution?
  • How do you communicate problems with managers, clients, or stakeholders and prevent them from escalating?
  • What analysis tools have you used to identify problems within your company’s servers, software, or infrastructure?
  • What solution would you propose if a company experienced a data or security breach?
  • How do you utilize previous experiences to anticipate or resolve technological problems?
  • An employee’s computer crashes unexpectedly. What steps would you take to fix the computer and retrieve potentially lost data?
  • Your manager comes in with a data report showing that software glitches disrupt productivity. How would you address this problem?
  • How would you upgrade your company’s storage structure to manage more data securely and efficiently?
  • How do you manage disagreements when working with peers to solve an IT problem?

RELATED: 6 Trends in IT Hiring for 2024

Tips for Assessing Problem-Solving Skills

Asking questions like these can help you evaluate the problem-solving skills of a prospective candidate. But there are additional things to look out for or ways to improve your assessment during the interview process, such as:

  • Paying close attention to how a candidate approaches a problem from beginning to end
  • Considering which candidates offer the most unique and innovative solutions to hypothetical scenarios
  • Evaluating their ability to work well independently and with a team
  • Observing how they communicate their answers, as this may provide insight into how they communicate with clients or stakeholders
  • Bringing a candidate in for a trial run to observe how they tackle problems in person

Consider using these questions and tips when assessing the problem-solving skills of your next IT candidate. For help finding those candidates, consider working with our IT staffing experts at Insight Global today!

Need to Hire IT Professionals?

We've been in the staffing industry for more 20 years—filling more than 50,000 positions last year alone. Let us know your hiring needs below. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853