Tetris Puzzle Pieces

Showcase Your Problem Solving Skills On Your Resume

career start resume guide Jan 31, 2022

It's not unusual for businesses to want someone who can find solutions. In fact, nearly 86% of employers responding to NACE’s, (National Association of Colleges and Employers), Job Outlook 2022 survey will be seeking evidence of problem-solving skills on the resumes of the students they are recruiting.


They all want problem-solvers on their team, regardless of company or industry. The issue is, how can you show your capabilities as a problem-solver to potential employers so that they know you'd be a good fit?


In this article:


What are problem-solving skills?

Why are employers seeking problem-solvers?

What are the steps of problem-solving?

How to showcase your problem-solving skills

How to phrase your problem-solving skills

How to use the STAR Method

What are behavioral interview questions?

STAR interview question examples

The STAR Method

Preparing for the interview


What are problem-solving skills?


Problem-solving abilities and qualities are the talents and characteristics that enable you to see a problem, comprehend the facts surrounding it, and propose a logical solution. The ideal method to convey these abilities is by offering examples of what they involve.


Some common problem-solving skills include:


Critical thinking - This involves analyzing data, comparing and contrasting information, drawing conclusions, solving puzzles or riddles.


Creative thinking - This involves coming up with novel ideas to solve problems in innovative ways.


Decision-making - Making decisions based on the facts surrounding a problem is an important part of problem-solving that helps you get past roadblocks.


Time management - Identifying a problem and finding an immediate solution is not always possible. Sometimes it takes time to resolve issues, which requires you to be able to manage your time effectively to prioritize certain tasks.


Communication - In this example communication involves sharing the facts of a situation with others who might have information that can help solve the problem or identify a new problem that has not been discovered.


Why are employers seeking problem-solvers?


Employers are searching for individuals with these abilities because they want assistance in solving their difficulties and increasing company or organization efficiency, which will ultimately lead to greater profitability.


As a job seeker, you'll profit from the fact that corporations will be looking for applicants with problem-solving ability across a range of jobs, not just engineering or science professions.


What are the steps of problem-solving?


Problem-solving is not a linear process and it often takes more than one step to find a solution.


The steps of problem-solving are:


Step One - Define the problem

This is where you identify what the problem is, what you know about it, and what information you still need to solve it.


Step Two - Gather information and define the problem

This is where you find all the facts surrounding the issue, determine what questions need to be answered, and then go out and get that information.


Step Three - Solve the problem

Using everything you have learned about your situation so far; this is when you create a list of possible solutions. You may also find that during this step you determine there is no solution available.


Step Four - Decide and implement the plan of action

Selecting from your list of possible solutions, it’s time to make a final decision about what will be done to solve the problem. To carry out these steps successfully, good communication skills are extremely important.


Step Five - Evaluate the results

After attempting to address the problem, it's critical to assess how well your solution performed. This stage allows you to learn from your mistakes and enhance your problem-solving abilities for when you face similar difficulties in the future.


How to showcase your problem-solving skills


The greatest way to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities on your resume is by providing genuine examples of times when you have used them. Employers are not only looking for problem solvers. They want to know if you can apply your talents in a variety of situations and under various circumstances, working with people with different backgrounds and utilizing tools they may or may not be familiar with.


As a recent graduate, the easiest method to accomplish this is by drawing instances from your academic and/or professional life. If you led a project team during class, make sure it's mentioned in your resume. Make certain to include it in your resume if you led a project team that overcame difficulties.


Providing real-world examples


There are a few things you should keep in mind when trying to develop your own examples:

Be specific - Don't just describe the problem; give information about how it arose and what was going on before you were able to intervene.


Show creativity - Employers adore individuals who can think outside the box and solve difficulties in creative ways.


Demonstrate teamwork - Working together with others to obtain feedback, develop a solution, and then implement it is a frequent part of problem-solving.


Use real-world examples - Employers want to know that you have worked in a real-world job before, therefore it is ideal to utilize instances from the workplace or at school.


Remember! The ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is used by most Fortune 500 firms to begin screening resumes for keywords. You're more likely to be rejected if your resume lacks the problem-solving keywords the ATS is searching for. To prevent this, use the job ad's resume keywords in your own employment description.


How to phrase your problem-solving skills


Having the ability to address challenges is a common phrase in resumes. It wouldn't tell you how to do it. Instead, use the following phrases.


  • Develops and maintains positive relationships with all levels of staff to obtain information and avoid difficulties
  • Supervised and assisted in the creation of corporate policies and procedures
  • Detail-oriented, capable of identifying and resolving issues


How to use the STAR Method


Most behavioral interviews will cover a variety of work-related challenges that demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving, as well as situations that display leadership abilities, conflict resolution, and performance under pressure. Here's some more information about behavioral questions, as well as some strategies for using the STAR approach when responding to them.


What are behavioral interview questions?


Behavioral interview questions are used to figure out how you've behaved in previous job assignments. Employers are interested in your past behaviors that may be indications of how you'll act when confronted with similar circumstances in the future. These inquiries are more open-ended than a "yes-or-no" question and usually request you to relate anecdotes or instances from your previous projects or jobs.


STAR interview question examples


  • Share an instance when you've failed. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Tell about a challenging problem you've had at work. How did you go about resolving it?
  • Tell me about a mistake you've made. How did you deal with it?
  • Talk about a time when you had to make a tough decision. What did you do?
  • Describe a time when you made a recommendation based on data or logic.
  • Tell me about a time you collaborated with other departments to complete a project.


The STAR Method


After you've demonstrated your excellence in problem-solving on your resume and cover letter, it's time to sell yourself as a problem solver during the job interview.


Fortunately, interview questions that entail problem-solving are somewhat common, and the most can be answered with the STAR method. The Situation, Task, Action, Result pattern is known as the STAR method and it's a wonderful technique to structure your responses to behavioral interview questions.

The STAR method helps you write an easy-to-understand narrative with a well-defined problem and solution.


S: A situation where you found yourself - It's preferable to describe job challenges if you have relevant hands-on experience, but it may also be worth discussing academic projects or volunteer work.


T: How it became a task and what made the difference - Describe your position or part in the problem or situation. In other words, talk about the purpose or task assigned to you.


A: What action did you take? - Explain the steps you took to deal with or overcome the problem in detail. Identify and explain a few of the most important activities you carried out to succeed.


R: The result of your actions - What were the consequences of your actions? Decide which two to three most outstanding results occurred and discuss them.


Preparing for the interview

  1. Review the job description and required skills and take the time to consider what kinds of problems or barriers you may encounter in the role.
  2. Write down the various situations you’ve handled in your educational and work history that would show the strengths you’ll need to succeed in the role and that address behavioral interview type questions. Use the STAR framework.
  3. When practicing for an interview, talk out aloud while answering the questions to ensure that each story is as succinct and coherent as possible. It will also aid in your self-confidence and ease when answering questions during a job interview.


If you're new to the job market and don't have much of a professional track record, consider internships, volunteer work, or school group projects that you've done. In some circumstances, employers may want to see a non-work-related accomplishment; think about challenges or difficulties you've overcome in your personal life as well.



DuszyƄski, Maciej. “Problem Solving Skills: Definition & Examples for a Resume.” Zety, https://www.facebook.com/zety.your.resume.builder/, 16 Feb. 2019, https://zety.com/blog/problem-solving-skills.


“How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique | Indeed.Com.” Indeed Career Guide, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/how-to-use-the-star-interview-response-technique. Accessed 12 Jan. 2022.


“Problem-Solving Skills Top Attributes Employers Seek on Resumes.” NACE, https://www.naceweb.org/talent-acquisition/candidate-selection/problem-solving-skills-top-attributes-employers-seeking-on-resumes/. Accessed 12 Jan. 2022.

“What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Definition, Examples, And How To List On A Resume) – Zippia.” Zippia - Find Jobs, Salaries, Companies, Resume Help, Career Paths and More, https://www.zippia.com/advice/problem-solving-skills/. Accessed 12 Jan. 2022.