What Do You Do If You Can’T Solve A Problem On Your Own?

When you are interviewing an applicant for a job, he may ask a question like, "What do you do if you can't solve a problem on your own" or, "Are workers able to go to supervisors for support"

An applicant may ask this question to get a feel for how the company is structured regarding interoffice relations. He may have experienced a workplace previously that did not have a supportive managerial structure. The applicant is most likely trying to make sure that he would be supported in this job and that the company has a team mentality.

Points to Emphasize

When you answer this question, you'll most likely want to put the applicant at ease regarding problem solving.

  • Stress the company's belief in community and teamwork for solving problems collectively.
  • Mention that the supervisors have an open door policy when it comes to asking questions or expressing concerns.
  • Give reference to any detailed training that takes place before an employee is left to perform his or her duties alone.
  • Let the applicant know that you yourself have a superior whom you go to for answers when needed.

The most important thing you'll want to do is assure the applicant that the company has a supportive network.

Mistakes You Should Avoid

This question isn't very common for an applicant to ask during an interview, so it may catch you by surprise. Follow these guidelines in order to avoid any pitfalls:

    • Don't use this as an opportunity to talk yourself up, as the applicant is using "you" to mean employees in general.
    • Avoid stating that your company does not have a system in place for employees to ask supervisors for advice, unless this intentionally is true.
    • Don't express concern over employees who can't solve all their own problems, as the applicant is most likely referring to sporadic instances.
    • Instead of mentioning a guidebook or other inanimate reference, be sure to stress the availability of person-to-person help.

If you don't answer the question positively, the applicant may have concern about the company's dedication to supporting its staff.

Sample Answer

Below is a great example of a response to a question about problem solving in the workplace:

We don't expect our employees to always have the answers, so we encourage anyone to go to a supervisor when he or she is unsure of how to solve a problem. Those who have been with the company for a number of years were themselves the newcomers at one time, and they are happy to share their wisdom with new hires.

An applicant wants to know that he will be part of a supportive company, and the answer to this question will give him the information he needs.

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LiveCareer Staff Writer

At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common: they are authorities on the job market. From journalists with years of experience covering…

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