## These 20 Tough Riddles for Adults Will Have You Scratching Your Head

Put your logic and math skills to the test. No cheating!

## 🤯 You love hard riddles. So do we. Let’s work through the toughies together.

So go grab a pencil and a piece of scratch paper and prepare to rip your hair out (and we really do mean that in the best way possible). When you think you’ve got the right answer, click the link at the bottom of each riddle to find the solution. Got it wrong? No worries, you have 19 other riddles to test out.

## Navigate Through Our Riddles:

The King’s Orders / How Many Eggs? / The Gold Chain / Pickleball / Circuit Breaker / Two Trains, Two Grandmas / Ant Math / Peppermint Patty / Great American Rail Trail / A Cruel SAT Problem / Movie Stars Cross a River / Tribute to a Math Genius / One Belt, One Earth / Elbow Tapping / Whiskey Problem / Doodle Problem / Stumping Scientists / What ’ s On Her Forehead? / Keanu for President / Who Opened the Lockers?

## Riddle #1: The King’s Orders Make for One Hell of a Brain Teaser

Difficulty: easy.

King Nupe of the kingdom Catan dotes on his two daughters so much that he decides the kingdom would be better off with more girls than boys, and he makes the following decree: All child-bearing couples must continue to bear children until they have a daughter!

But to avoid overpopulation, he makes an additional decree: All child-bearing couples will stop having children once they have a daughter! His subjects immediately begin following his orders.

After many years, what’s the expected ratio of girls to boys in Catan?

The likelihood of each baby born being a girl is, of course, 50 percent.

Ready for the solution? Click here to see if you’re right .

## Riddle #2: How Many Eggs Does This Hen Lay?

This problem is in honor of my dad, Harold Feiveson. It’s due to him that I love math puzzles, and this is one of the first problems (of many) that he gave me when I was growing up.

A hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half. How many eggs does one hen lay in one day?

## Riddle #3: The Gold Chain Math Problem Is Deceptively Simple

Difficulty: moderate.

You’re rummaging around your great grandmother’s attic when you find five short chains each made of four gold links. It occurs to you that if you combined them all into one big loop of 20 links, you’d have an incredible necklace. So you bring it into a jeweler, who tells you the cost of making the necklace will be $10 for each gold link that she has to break and then reseal.

How much will it cost?

## Riddle #4: Try to Solve This Pickleball Puzzle

Difficulty: 🚨hard🚨.

Kenny, Abby, and Ned got together for a round-robin pickleball tournament, where, as usual, the winner stays on after each game to play the person who sat out that game. At the end of their pickleball afternoon, Abby is exhausted, having played the last seven straight games. Kenny, who is less winded, tallies up the games played:

Kenny played eight games

Abby played 12 games

Ned played 14 games

Who won the fourth game against whom?

How many total games were played?

## Riddle #5: Our Circuit Breaker Riddle Is Pure Evil. Sorry.

The circuit breaker box in your new house is in an inconvenient corner of your basement. To your chagrin, you discover none of the 100 circuit breakers is labeled, and you face the daunting prospect of matching each circuit breaker to its respective light. (Suppose each circuit breaker maps to only one light.)

To start with, you switch all 100 lights in the house to “on,” and then you head down to your basement to begin the onerous mapping process. On every trip to your basement, you can switch any number of circuit breakers on or off. You can then roam the hallways of your house to discover which lights are on and which are off.

What is the minimum number of trips you need to make to the basement to map every circuit breaker to every light?

The solution does not involve either switching on or off the light switches in your house or feeling how hot the lightbulbs are. You might want to try solving for the case of 10 unlabeled circuit breakers first.

## Riddle #6: Two Trains. Two Grandmas. Can You Solve This Tricky Math Riddle?

Jesse’s two grandmothers want to see him every weekend, but they live on opposite sides of town. As a compromise, he tells them that every Sunday, he’ll head to the subway station nearest to his apartment at a random time of the day and will hop on the next train that arrives.

If it happens to be the train traveling north, he’ll visit his Grandma Erica uptown, and if it happens to be the train traveling south, he’ll visit his Grandma Cara downtown. Both of his grandmothers are okay with this plan, since they know both the northbound and southbound trains run every 20 minutes.

But after a few months of doing this, Grandma Cara complains that she sees him only one out of five Sundays. Jesse promises he’s indeed heading to the station at a random time each day. How can this be?

The trains always arrive at their scheduled times.

## Riddle #7: Here’s a Really F@*#ing Hard Math Problem About Ants

Max and Rose are ant siblings. They love to race each other, but always tie, since they actually crawl at the exact same speed. So they decide to create a race where one of them (hopefully) will win.

For this race, each of them will start at the bottom corner of a cuboid, and then crawl as fast as they can to reach a crumb at the opposite corner. The measurements of their cuboids are as pictured:

If they both take the shortest possible route to reach their crumb, who will reach their crumb first? (Don’t forget they’re ants, so of course they can climb anywhere on the edges or surface of the cuboid.)

Remember: Think outside the box.

## Riddle #8: This Peppermint Patty Riddle Is Practically Impossible

You’re facing your friend, Caryn, in a “candy-off,” which works as follows: There’s a pile of 100 caramels and one peppermint patty. You and Caryn will go back and forth taking at least one and no more than five caramels from the candy pile in each turn. The person who removes the last caramel will also get the peppermint patty. And you love peppermint patties.

Suppose Caryn lets you decide who goes first. Who should you choose in order to make sure you win the peppermint patty?

First, solve for a pile of 10 caramels.

## Riddle #9: Can You Solve the Great American Rail-Trail Riddle?

This problem was suggested by the physicist P. Jeffrey Ungar.

Finally, the Great American Rail-Trail across the whole country is complete! Go ahead, pat yourself on the back—you’ve just installed the longest handrail in the history of the world, with 4,000 miles from beginning to end. But just after the opening ceremony, your assistant reminds you that the metal you used for the handrail expands slightly in summer, so that its length will increase by one inch in total.

“Ha!” you say, “One inch in a 4,000 mile handrail? That’s nothing!” But … are you right?

Let’s suppose when the handrail expands, it buckles upward at its weakest point, which is in the center. How much higher will pedestrians in the middle of the country have to reach in summer to grab the handrail? That is, in the figure below, what is h ? (For the purposes of this question, ignore the curvature of the Earth and assume the trail is a straight line.)

Pythagoras is a fascinating historical figure.

## Riddle #10: This Riddle Is Like an Especially Cruel SAT Problem. Can You Find the Answer?

Amanda lives with her teenage son, Matt, in the countryside—a car ride away from Matt’s school. Every afternoon, Amanda leaves the house at the same time, drives to the school at a constant speed, picks Matt up exactly when his chess club ends at 5 p.m., and then they immediately return home together at the same constant speed. But one day, Matt isn’t feeling well, so he leaves chess practice early and starts to head home on his portable scooter.

After Matt has been scooting for an hour, Amanda comes across him in her car (on her usual route to pick him up), and they return together, arriving home 40 minutes earlier than they usually do. How much chess practice did Matt miss?

Consider the case where Amanda meets Matt exactly as she’s leaving their house.

## Riddle #11: Can You Get These 3 Movie Stars Across the River?

Three movie stars, Chloe, Lexa, and Jon, are filming a movie in the Amazon. They’re very famous and very high-maintenance, so their agents are always with them. One day, after filming a scene deep in the rainforest, the three actors and their agents decide to head back to home base by foot. Suddenly, they come to a large river.

On the riverbank, they find a small rowboat, but it’s only big enough to hold two of them at one time. The catch? None of the agents are comfortable leaving their movie star with any other agents if they’re not there as well. They don’t trust that the other agents won’t try to poach their star.

For example, Chloe’s agent is okay if Chloe and Lexa are alone in the boat or on one of the riverbanks, but definitely not okay if Lexa’s agent is also with them. So how can they all get across the river?

There isn’t just one way to solve this problem.

## Riddle #12: This Ludicrously Hard Riddle Is Our Tribute to a Late Math Genius. Can You Figure It Out?

On April 11, John Horton Conway , a brilliant mathematician who had an intense and playful love of puzzles and games, died of complications from COVID-19. Conway is the inventor of one of my favorite legendary problems (not for the faint of heart) and, famously, the Game of Life . I created this problem in his honor.

Carol was creating a family tree, but had trouble tracking down her mother’s birthdate. The only clue she found was a letter written from her grandfather to her grandmother on the day her mother was born. Unfortunately, some of the characters were smudged out, represented here with a “___” . (The length of the line does not reflect the number of smudged characters.)

“Dear Virginia,

Little did I know when I headed to work this Monday morning, that by evening we would have a beautiful baby girl. And on our wedding anniversary, no less! It makes me think back to that incredible weekend day, J___ 27th, 19___ , when we first shared our vow to create a family together, and, well, here we are! Happy eighth anniversary, my love.

Love, Edwin”

The question: When was Carol’s mother born?

This problem is inspired by Conway’s Doomsday Rule .

## Riddle #13: To Solve This Twisty Math Riddle, You Just Need One Belt and One Earth

Imagine you have a very long belt. Well, extremely long, really … in fact, it’s just long enough that it can wrap snugly around the circumference of our entire planet. (For the sake of simplicity, let’s suppose Earth is perfectly round, with no mountains, oceans, or other barriers in the way of the belt.)

Naturally, you’re very proud of your belt. But then your brother, Peter, shows up—and to your disgruntlement, he produces a belt that’s just a bit longer than yours. He brags his belt is longer by exactly his height: 6 feet.

If Peter were also to wrap his belt around the circumference of Earth, how far above the surface could he suspend the belt if he pulled it tautly and uniformly?

Earth’s circumference is about 25,000 miles, or 130 million feet … but you don’t need to know that to solve this problem.

## Riddle #14: This Elbow Tapping Riddle Is Diabolical. Good Luck Solving It.

In some future time, when the shelter-in-place bans are lifted, a married couple, Florian and Julia, head over to a bar to celebrate their newfound freedom.

They find four other couples there who had the same idea.

Eager for social contact, every person in the five couples enthusiastically taps elbows (the new handshake) with each person they haven’t yet met .

It actually turns out many of the people had known each other prior, so when Julia asks everyone how many elbows they each tapped, she remarkably gets nine different answers!

The question: How many elbows did Florian tap?

What nine answers did Julia hear?

## Riddle #15: You'll Need a Drink After Trying to Solve This Whisky Riddle

Alan and Claire live by the old Scottish saying, “Never have whisky without water, nor water without whisky!” So one day, when Alan has in front of him a glass of whisky, and Claire has in front of her a same-sized glass of water, Alan takes a spoonful of his whisky and puts it in Claire’s water. Claire stirs her whisky-tinted water, and then puts a spoonful of this mixture back into Alan’s whisky to make sure they have exactly the same amount to drink.

So: Is there more water in Alan’s whisky, or more whisky in Claire’s water? And does it matter how well Claire stirred?

The size of the spoon does not matter.

## Riddle #16: The Doodle Problem Is a Lot Harder Than It Looks. Can You Solve It?

This week’s riddle is relatively simple—but sinister all the same.

The question: Can you make 100 by interspersing any number of pluses and minuses within the string of digits 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1? You can’t change the order of the digits! So what’s the least number of pluses and minuses needed to make 100?

For instance, 98 - 7 - 6 + 54 - 32 shows one way of interspersing pluses and minuses, but since it equals 107, it’s not a solution.

I call this a “doodle problem”: one that’s best worked on during meetings where you might be doodling otherwise.

You might want to start looking for solutions that use a total of seven pluses and minuses (although there are ways to use fewer).

Ready for the solution? Click here to see if you’re right.

## Riddle #17: This Math Puzzle Stumped Every Scientist but One. Think You Can Crack It?

Difficulty: hard.

In honor of Freeman Dyson, the renowned physicist who died last month , here’s a legendary tale demonstrating his quick wit and incredible brain power.

One day, in a gathering of top scientists, one of them wondered out loud whether there exists an integer that you could exactly double by moving its last digit to its front. For instance, 265 would satisfy this if 526 were its exact double—which it isn’t.

After apparently just five seconds , Dyson responded, “Of course there is, but the smallest such number has 18 digits.”

This left some of the smartest scientists in the world puzzling over how he could have figured this out so quickly.

So given Dyson’s hint, what is the smallest such number?

My second grader has recently learned how to add a 3-digit number to itself using the classic vertical method:

18-digit numbers, of course, can be added in the same way.

## Riddle #18: Figure Out What’s on Her Forehead

Cecilia loves testing the logic of her very logical friends Jaya, Julian, and Levi, so she announces:

“I’ll write a positive number on each of your foreheads. None of the numbers are the same, and two of the numbers add up to the third.”

She scribbles the numbers on their heads, then turns to Jaya and asks her what her number is. Jaya sees Julian has 20 on his forehead, and Levi has 30 on his. She thinks for a moment and then says, “I don’t know what my number is.” Julian pipes in, “I also don’t know my number,” and then Levi exclaims, “Me neither!” Cecilia gleefully says, “I’ve finally stumped you guys!”

“Not so fast!” Jaya says. “Now I know my number!”

What is Jaya’s number?

Jaya could be one of two numbers, but only one of those numbers would lead to Julian and Levi both not knowing their numbers. Why?

## Riddle #19: Can You Get Keanu Reeves Elected As President?

It’s 2024, and there are five candidates running in the democratic primary: Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Keanu Reeves, and Dwayne Johnson. (Hey, it could happen.) As usual, the first primary is in Iowa.

In an effort to overcome its embarrassment after the 2020 caucus debacle , the Iowa Democratic Party has just announced a new, foolproof way of finding the best candidate: there will be four consecutive elections.

First, candidate 1 will run against candidate 2. Next, the winner of that will run against candidate 3, then that winner will run against candidate 4, and finally the winner of that election will run against the final candidate. By the transitive property, the winner of this last election must be the best candidate ... so says the Iowa Democratic Party.

Candidate Keanu has been feeling pretty low, as he knows he is ranked near the bottom by most voters, and at the top by none. In fact, he knows the Iowa population is divided into five equal groups, and that their preferences are as follows:

Keanu is childhood friends with Bill S. Preston, Esq., the new head of the Iowa Democratic Party. Preston, confident that the order of the candidates doesn’t matter for the outcome, tells Keanu he can choose the voting order of the candidates.

So what order should Keanu choose?

How would Keanu fare in one-to-one races against each candidate?

## Riddle #20: Who Opened All These Damn Lockers?

There are 100 lockers that line the main hallway of Chelm High School. Every night, the school principal makes sure all the lockers are closed so that there will be an orderly start to the next day. One day, 100 mischievous students decide that they will play a prank.

The students all meet before school starts and line up. The first student then walks down the hallway, and opens every locker. The next student follows by closing every other locker (starting at the second locker). Student 3 then goes to every third locker (starting with the third) and opens it if it’s closed, and closes it if it’s open. Student 4 follows by opening every fourth locker if it’s closed and closing it if it’s open. This goes on and on until Student 100 finally goes to the hundredth locker. When the principal arrives later in the morning, which lockers does she find open?

Make sure you pay attention to all of the factors.

Laura Feiveson is an economist for the government, a storyteller, and a lifelong enthusiast of math puzzles. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two daughters.

## .css-8psjmo:before{content:'//';display:inline;padding-right:0.3125rem;} Math .css-v6ym3h:before{content:'//';display:inline;padding-left:0.3125rem;}

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## 5 problem-solving questions to prepare you for your next interview

Understand Yourself Better:

Big 5 Personality Test

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What is problem-solving, and why do hiring managers care so much about it?

## How to answer problem-solving questions

Common problem-solving questions and answers, things to avoid when answering problem-solving questions, how to prepare for problem-solving interview questions, problem solved.

“How would you approach telling a manager that they’ve made a mistake ?”

Hard problem-solving questions like these can catch you off guard in a job interview. They’re hard to prepare for if you don’t know they’re coming, and you might not even see why they’re relevant to the job.

Even the most experienced interviewees might feel like they’re giving a bad interview if they stumble on questions like these.

Preparing and practicing hard questions is one way to ease your fears. Learn to dissect what a hiring manager is really asking and answer problem-solving questions with confidence.

## What is problem-solving, and why do hiring managers care so much about it?

Problem-solving is holistically understanding a problem, determining its cause, and identifying creative solutions . Many, if not most, job descriptions ask for problem-solving skills because regardless of industry, they’re an asset in the workplace.

Startups and tech companies like Google famously pose critical thinking and problem-solving questions in job interviews . But hiring managers from all industries use unique questions like these to understand your problem-solving skills. It’s not about the answer you give, or whether it’s correct, but the way you come to that conclusion.

In job interviews, problem-solving questions pose a potential problem or situation typical to the job you’re interviewing for. Your response shows your ability to respond to common problems, even on the spot. Depending on the question, it can also indicate other skills like:

Critical thinking

Communication

Dependability

Behavioral competency

Soft skills

Decision-making

The average business spends $4,700 hiring one new worker , so it wants to make sure you’re the right fit for the job. Even if you have the right skills and experience on paper, hiring managers need a comprehensive idea of what kind of worker you are to avoid choosing the wrong candidate.

Like standard behavioral interview questions , problem-solving questions offer interviewers a more well-rounded view of how you might perform on the job.

Problem-solving questions encourage you to give answers about your past experiences, decision-making process , and ability to arrive at creative solutions . Learning how to answer questions in an interview means learning how to tell a good story , so your answer should have a clear structure, unique topic, and compelling journey to demonstrate your competencies.

The STAR method is a common technique for answering problem-solving interview questions clearly and thoughtfully. The acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result. It provides a simple structure that gives your response a smooth beginning, middle, and end.

Here’s how to use the STAR method to describe past on-the-job experiences or hypothetical situations:

Situation: Start with a problem statement that clearly defines the situation.

Task: Explain your role in the situation. What is, or would be your responsibility?

Action: Recount the steps or problem-solving strategies you used, or would use, to overcome the problem.

Result: Share what you achieved or would hope to resolve through your problem-solving process.

Every job requires problem-solving on some level, so you can expect at least one job interview question to ask about those skills. Here are a few common problem-solving interview questions to practice:

## 1. Give us an example of when you faced an unexpected challenge at work. What did you do to face it?

What’s a hiring manager really asking? Employers want to know that your problem-solving has a process. They want to hear you break down a problem into a set of steps to solve it.

Sample answer: I was working in sales for a wholesale retailer. A regular client wrongly communicated the pricing of a unit. I realized this immediately, and rather than pointing out the error, I quickly double-checked with my supervisor to see if we could respect the price.

I informed the client of the error and that we were happy to keep the price he was given. It made him feel like he'd gotten a fair deal and trusted my authority as a sales rep even more. The loss wasn't significant, but saving face in front of the client was.

## 2. How would you manage a frustrated client?

What’s a hiring manager really asking? They want to gauge your ability to stay cool and be patient in stressful situations, even when dealing with difficult people . Keep your answer professional, and don't use the opportunity to bad-mouth a past client. Show that you can stay respectful even if someone isn’t respecting you.

Sample answer: I've had plenty of experience dealing with unhappy clients. I've learned two important things: their frustration isn’t a personal attack against me, and we have the same goal to solve the problem. Knowing that helps me stay calm, listen carefully to the client's situation, and do my best to identify where the situation went astray.

Once we identify the problem, if I can handle it myself, I communicate exactly what we’ll do for the client and how. What steps we’ll take depend on the client, but I always start by proposing solutions to show I care about a path forward, and then keep them updated on my progress to implementing that fix.

## 3. Describe a time you made a mistake at work. How did you fix it?

What’s a hiring manager really asking? No one is above making an error. Employers want to know that you own up to and learn from your mistakes instead of getting frustrated and walking away from the problem.

Sample answer: My first managerial position was at a public relations agency. When I was promoted to work on client outreach, I struggled to learn to delegate my old responsibilities, which were writing social media copy. I was afraid to let go of control, and I was micromanaging . One day, I wrote out some copy, sent it out, and quickly realized I was using the wrong style guide in my haste.

The client noticed, and we had to work to regain their trust, which put a strain on the entire team. I took full responsibility and used that moment to understand that I wasn't trusting my team's abilities. I apologized to my team for overstepping boundaries and worked to let go of my old role completely.

## 4. Have you ever had a difficult time working with a team member? How did you deal with the situation?

What’s a hiring manager really asking? Even the most independent job requires some teamwork, whether it’s communicating with clients or other team members. Employers want to know that you can solve interpersonal problems, know when to escalate and help maintain a positive work environment.

Sample answer: At my last job, we were fully remote. I had a coworker that wasn't very communicative about their process, which led to redundancies in our work and miscommunications that set us behind. I asked them to have a one-on-one meeting with me so we could analyze where we were failing to communicate and how to improve.

It wasn't a comfortable process, but we developed a better practice to collaborate and improve our ability to work as a team , including weekly meetings and check-ins.

## 5. Tell me about a time you created an innovative solution with limited information or resources.

What’s a hiring manager really asking? They want to test your resourcefulness, which is a valuable soft skill. Using a “ Tell me about a time” question lets you demonstrate out-of-the-box thinking and shows that you don't quit when things get difficult.

Sample answer: I worked in project management for a software developer. We were frequently going over budget and needed to limit spending. I instituted a new workflow app across departments and made everyone track every step of their process. We ended up finding information silos between design, sales, and product development.

They were all using different platforms to communicate the status of the same project, which meant we were wasting time and money. We centralized communication and improved operational efficiency, solved our budget problems, and increased productivity by 30%.

Problem-solving questions offer deep insights into the kind of worker you are. While your answer is important, so is your delivery. Here are some things to avoid when trying to answer problem-solving questions:

Don’t clam up: It's okay to take your time to reflect, but never abstain from answering. An interviewer will understand if you need to pause and think. If you’re really stumped, you can ask to return to that question later in the interview.

Avoid generic answers: Generic answers show a lack of creativity and innovation . Use the opportunity to explain what makes you and your problem-solving process unique.

Don’t lose confidence: How you answer is as important as what you answer. Do your best to practice confident body language, like eye contact and strong posture. Practicing ahead of time can help alleviate pressure while you’re answering.

Try not to rush: Rushing through an answer could make it unclear or incoherent, which might reflect poorly on your ability to keep a level head. Practice mindful breathing and pace yourself. Answer slowly and deliberately.

Preparing for an interview will make you feel more comfortable and confident during the hiring process. Rather than thinking of answers on the spot, you can pull from different responses you're already familiar with. Here are some tips for practicing and improving your answers:

Create a list of problem-solving examples from throughout your career. Consider varied past experiences that play into important skills, like time management, project management, or teamwork, to show that you're a well-rounded candidate.

Whenever possible, give metrics to show results. For example, if you improved productivity, share percentages. If you upped sales, share numbers.

Carefully study the job description and connect the skills you find with specific ways you’ve used them.

Identify what you’re good at and choose experiences that play to your strengths.

When talking about mistakes or errors, always finish with the lesson you learned and how you plan on avoiding the same mistake.

Provide details that a hiring manager can recognize within the position they’re hiring for.

It’s normal to feel nervous about a job interview, especially if you’re expecting difficult questions. Learning how to overcome that challenge is the perfect way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

Like everything else in your career, practice makes perfect, and learning to answer tough problem-solving questions is no different. Take the time to recall moments in your career when you overcame challenges, and practice telling those stories. Craft an answer that hiring managers will be excited to hear.

## Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

## 9 jobs you can get with an economics degree

The best jobs for introverts and how to find your path, 10 interview skills, techniques and examples to land your dream job, 6 tips on how to answer promotion interview questions, how to tell your boss you’re quitting without burning a bridge, get help from a career advisor to map your professional path, answer “how do you define success” like a pro, breathe in, breathe out: 15 tips to prepare for an interview, worried about your job in a recession how to protect yourself, similar articles, 10 problem-solving strategies to turn challenges on their head, how to ace your second interview questions, 31 examples of problem solving performance review phrases, how to answer “what motivates you” in a job interview, land a promotion: prepare for these internal interview questions, how to prepare for a new job and set yourself up for success, 8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems, 30 star interview method questions to prepare for, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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## 35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

## Design your next session with SessionLab

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All teams and organizations encounter challenges as they grow. There are problems that might occur for teams when it comes to miscommunication or resolving business-critical issues . You may face challenges around growth , design , user engagement, and even team culture and happiness. In short, problem-solving techniques should be part of every team’s skillset.

Problem-solving methods are primarily designed to help a group or team through a process of first identifying problems and challenges , ideating possible solutions , and then evaluating the most suitable .

Finding effective solutions to complex problems isn’t easy, but by using the right process and techniques, you can help your team be more efficient in the process.

So how do you develop strategies that are engaging, and empower your team to solve problems effectively?

In this blog post, we share a series of problem-solving tools you can use in your next workshop or team meeting. You’ll also find some tips for facilitating the process and how to enable others to solve complex problems.

Let’s get started!

## How do you identify problems?

How do you identify the right solution.

- Tips for more effective problem-solving

## Complete problem-solving methods

- Problem-solving techniques to identify and analyze problems
- Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions

## Problem-solving warm-up activities

Closing activities for a problem-solving process.

Before you can move towards finding the right solution for a given problem, you first need to identify and define the problem you wish to solve.

Here, you want to clearly articulate what the problem is and allow your group to do the same. Remember that everyone in a group is likely to have differing perspectives and alignment is necessary in order to help the group move forward.

Identifying a problem accurately also requires that all members of a group are able to contribute their views in an open and safe manner. It can be scary for people to stand up and contribute, especially if the problems or challenges are emotive or personal in nature. Be sure to try and create a psychologically safe space for these kinds of discussions.

Remember that problem analysis and further discussion are also important. Not taking the time to fully analyze and discuss a challenge can result in the development of solutions that are not fit for purpose or do not address the underlying issue.

Successfully identifying and then analyzing a problem means facilitating a group through activities designed to help them clearly and honestly articulate their thoughts and produce usable insight.

With this data, you might then produce a problem statement that clearly describes the problem you wish to be addressed and also state the goal of any process you undertake to tackle this issue.

Finding solutions is the end goal of any process. Complex organizational challenges can only be solved with an appropriate solution but discovering them requires using the right problem-solving tool.

After you’ve explored a problem and discussed ideas, you need to help a team discuss and choose the right solution. Consensus tools and methods such as those below help a group explore possible solutions before then voting for the best. They’re a great way to tap into the collective intelligence of the group for great results!

Remember that the process is often iterative. Great problem solvers often roadtest a viable solution in a measured way to see what works too. While you might not get the right solution on your first try, the methods below help teams land on the most likely to succeed solution while also holding space for improvement.

Every effective problem solving process begins with an agenda . A well-structured workshop is one of the best methods for successfully guiding a group from exploring a problem to implementing a solution.

In SessionLab, it’s easy to go from an idea to a complete agenda . Start by dragging and dropping your core problem solving activities into place . Add timings, breaks and necessary materials before sharing your agenda with your colleagues.

The resulting agenda will be your guide to an effective and productive problem solving session that will also help you stay organized on the day!

## Tips for more effective problem solving

Problem-solving activities are only one part of the puzzle. While a great method can help unlock your team’s ability to solve problems, without a thoughtful approach and strong facilitation the solutions may not be fit for purpose.

Let’s take a look at some problem-solving tips you can apply to any process to help it be a success!

## Clearly define the problem

Jumping straight to solutions can be tempting, though without first clearly articulating a problem, the solution might not be the right one. Many of the problem-solving activities below include sections where the problem is explored and clearly defined before moving on.

This is a vital part of the problem-solving process and taking the time to fully define an issue can save time and effort later. A clear definition helps identify irrelevant information and it also ensures that your team sets off on the right track.

## Don’t jump to conclusions

It’s easy for groups to exhibit cognitive bias or have preconceived ideas about both problems and potential solutions. Be sure to back up any problem statements or potential solutions with facts, research, and adequate forethought.

The best techniques ask participants to be methodical and challenge preconceived notions. Make sure you give the group enough time and space to collect relevant information and consider the problem in a new way. By approaching the process with a clear, rational mindset, you’ll often find that better solutions are more forthcoming.

## Try different approaches

Problems come in all shapes and sizes and so too should the methods you use to solve them. If you find that one approach isn’t yielding results and your team isn’t finding different solutions, try mixing it up. You’ll be surprised at how using a new creative activity can unblock your team and generate great solutions.

## Don’t take it personally

Depending on the nature of your team or organizational problems, it’s easy for conversations to get heated. While it’s good for participants to be engaged in the discussions, ensure that emotions don’t run too high and that blame isn’t thrown around while finding solutions.

You’re all in it together, and even if your team or area is seeing problems, that isn’t necessarily a disparagement of you personally. Using facilitation skills to manage group dynamics is one effective method of helping conversations be more constructive.

## Get the right people in the room

Your problem-solving method is often only as effective as the group using it. Getting the right people on the job and managing the number of people present is important too!

If the group is too small, you may not get enough different perspectives to effectively solve a problem. If the group is too large, you can go round and round during the ideation stages.

Creating the right group makeup is also important in ensuring you have the necessary expertise and skillset to both identify and follow up on potential solutions. Carefully consider who to include at each stage to help ensure your problem-solving method is followed and positioned for success.

## Document everything

The best solutions can take refinement, iteration, and reflection to come out. Get into a habit of documenting your process in order to keep all the learnings from the session and to allow ideas to mature and develop. Many of the methods below involve the creation of documents or shared resources. Be sure to keep and share these so everyone can benefit from the work done!

## Bring a facilitator

Facilitation is all about making group processes easier. With a subject as potentially emotive and important as problem-solving, having an impartial third party in the form of a facilitator can make all the difference in finding great solutions and keeping the process moving. Consider bringing a facilitator to your problem-solving session to get better results and generate meaningful solutions!

## Develop your problem-solving skills

It takes time and practice to be an effective problem solver. While some roles or participants might more naturally gravitate towards problem-solving, it can take development and planning to help everyone create better solutions.

You might develop a training program, run a problem-solving workshop or simply ask your team to practice using the techniques below. Check out our post on problem-solving skills to see how you and your group can develop the right mental process and be more resilient to issues too!

## Design a great agenda

Workshops are a great format for solving problems. With the right approach, you can focus a group and help them find the solutions to their own problems. But designing a process can be time-consuming and finding the right activities can be difficult.

Check out our workshop planning guide to level-up your agenda design and start running more effective workshops. Need inspiration? Check out templates designed by expert facilitators to help you kickstart your process!

In this section, we’ll look at in-depth problem-solving methods that provide a complete end-to-end process for developing effective solutions. These will help guide your team from the discovery and definition of a problem through to delivering the right solution.

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing method or problem-solving model, these processes are a great place to start. They’ll ask your team to challenge preconceived ideas and adopt a mindset for solving problems more effectively.

- Six Thinking Hats
- Lightning Decision Jam
- Problem Definition Process
- Discovery & Action Dialogue

Design Sprint 2.0

- Open Space Technology

## 1. Six Thinking Hats

Individual approaches to solving a problem can be very different based on what team or role an individual holds. It can be easy for existing biases or perspectives to find their way into the mix, or for internal politics to direct a conversation.

Six Thinking Hats is a classic method for identifying the problems that need to be solved and enables your team to consider them from different angles, whether that is by focusing on facts and data, creative solutions, or by considering why a particular solution might not work.

Like all problem-solving frameworks, Six Thinking Hats is effective at helping teams remove roadblocks from a conversation or discussion and come to terms with all the aspects necessary to solve complex problems.

## 2. Lightning Decision Jam

Featured courtesy of Jonathan Courtney of AJ&Smart Berlin, Lightning Decision Jam is one of those strategies that should be in every facilitation toolbox. Exploring problems and finding solutions is often creative in nature, though as with any creative process, there is the potential to lose focus and get lost.

Unstructured discussions might get you there in the end, but it’s much more effective to use a method that creates a clear process and team focus.

In Lightning Decision Jam, participants are invited to begin by writing challenges, concerns, or mistakes on post-its without discussing them before then being invited by the moderator to present them to the group.

From there, the team vote on which problems to solve and are guided through steps that will allow them to reframe those problems, create solutions and then decide what to execute on.

By deciding the problems that need to be solved as a team before moving on, this group process is great for ensuring the whole team is aligned and can take ownership over the next stages.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) #action #decision making #problem solving #issue analysis #innovation #design #remote-friendly The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

## 3. Problem Definition Process

While problems can be complex, the problem-solving methods you use to identify and solve those problems can often be simple in design.

By taking the time to truly identify and define a problem before asking the group to reframe the challenge as an opportunity, this method is a great way to enable change.

Begin by identifying a focus question and exploring the ways in which it manifests before splitting into five teams who will each consider the problem using a different method: escape, reversal, exaggeration, distortion or wishful. Teams develop a problem objective and create ideas in line with their method before then feeding them back to the group.

This method is great for enabling in-depth discussions while also creating space for finding creative solutions too!

Problem Definition #problem solving #idea generation #creativity #online #remote-friendly A problem solving technique to define a problem, challenge or opportunity and to generate ideas.

## 4. The 5 Whys

Sometimes, a group needs to go further with their strategies and analyze the root cause at the heart of organizational issues. An RCA or root cause analysis is the process of identifying what is at the heart of business problems or recurring challenges.

The 5 Whys is a simple and effective method of helping a group go find the root cause of any problem or challenge and conduct analysis that will deliver results.

By beginning with the creation of a problem statement and going through five stages to refine it, The 5 Whys provides everything you need to truly discover the cause of an issue.

The 5 Whys #hyperisland #innovation This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, the group defines a problems, then asks the question “why” five times, often using the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.

## 5. World Cafe

World Cafe is a simple but powerful facilitation technique to help bigger groups to focus their energy and attention on solving complex problems.

World Cafe enables this approach by creating a relaxed atmosphere where participants are able to self-organize and explore topics relevant and important to them which are themed around a central problem-solving purpose. Create the right atmosphere by modeling your space after a cafe and after guiding the group through the method, let them take the lead!

Making problem-solving a part of your organization’s culture in the long term can be a difficult undertaking. More approachable formats like World Cafe can be especially effective in bringing people unfamiliar with workshops into the fold.

World Cafe #hyperisland #innovation #issue analysis World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.

## 6. Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)

One of the best approaches is to create a safe space for a group to share and discover practices and behaviors that can help them find their own solutions.

With DAD, you can help a group choose which problems they wish to solve and which approaches they will take to do so. It’s great at helping remove resistance to change and can help get buy-in at every level too!

This process of enabling frontline ownership is great in ensuring follow-through and is one of the methods you will want in your toolbox as a facilitator.

Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD) #idea generation #liberating structures #action #issue analysis #remote-friendly DADs make it easy for a group or community to discover practices and behaviors that enable some individuals (without access to special resources and facing the same constraints) to find better solutions than their peers to common problems. These are called positive deviant (PD) behaviors and practices. DADs make it possible for people in the group, unit, or community to discover by themselves these PD practices. DADs also create favorable conditions for stimulating participants’ creativity in spaces where they can feel safe to invent new and more effective practices. Resistance to change evaporates as participants are unleashed to choose freely which practices they will adopt or try and which problems they will tackle. DADs make it possible to achieve frontline ownership of solutions.

## 7. Design Sprint 2.0

Want to see how a team can solve big problems and move forward with prototyping and testing solutions in a few days? The Design Sprint 2.0 template from Jake Knapp, author of Sprint, is a complete agenda for a with proven results.

Developing the right agenda can involve difficult but necessary planning. Ensuring all the correct steps are followed can also be stressful or time-consuming depending on your level of experience.

Use this complete 4-day workshop template if you are finding there is no obvious solution to your challenge and want to focus your team around a specific problem that might require a shortcut to launching a minimum viable product or waiting for the organization-wide implementation of a solution.

## 8. Open space technology

Open space technology- developed by Harrison Owen – creates a space where large groups are invited to take ownership of their problem solving and lead individual sessions. Open space technology is a great format when you have a great deal of expertise and insight in the room and want to allow for different takes and approaches on a particular theme or problem you need to be solved.

Start by bringing your participants together to align around a central theme and focus their efforts. Explain the ground rules to help guide the problem-solving process and then invite members to identify any issue connecting to the central theme that they are interested in and are prepared to take responsibility for.

Once participants have decided on their approach to the core theme, they write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group, pick a session time and place, and post the paper on the wall. As the wall fills up with sessions, the group is then invited to join the sessions that interest them the most and which they can contribute to, then you’re ready to begin!

Everyone joins the problem-solving group they’ve signed up to, record the discussion and if appropriate, findings can then be shared with the rest of the group afterward.

Open Space Technology #action plan #idea generation #problem solving #issue analysis #large group #online #remote-friendly Open Space is a methodology for large groups to create their agenda discerning important topics for discussion, suitable for conferences, community gatherings and whole system facilitation

## Techniques to identify and analyze problems

Using a problem-solving method to help a team identify and analyze a problem can be a quick and effective addition to any workshop or meeting.

While further actions are always necessary, you can generate momentum and alignment easily, and these activities are a great place to get started.

We’ve put together this list of techniques to help you and your team with problem identification, analysis, and discussion that sets the foundation for developing effective solutions.

Let’s take a look!

- The Creativity Dice
- Fishbone Analysis
- Problem Tree
- SWOT Analysis
- Agreement-Certainty Matrix
- The Journalistic Six
- LEGO Challenge
- What, So What, Now What?
- Journalists

Individual and group perspectives are incredibly important, but what happens if people are set in their minds and need a change of perspective in order to approach a problem more effectively?

Flip It is a method we love because it is both simple to understand and run, and allows groups to understand how their perspectives and biases are formed.

Participants in Flip It are first invited to consider concerns, issues, or problems from a perspective of fear and write them on a flip chart. Then, the group is asked to consider those same issues from a perspective of hope and flip their understanding.

No problem and solution is free from existing bias and by changing perspectives with Flip It, you can then develop a problem solving model quickly and effectively.

Flip It! #gamestorming #problem solving #action Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives. Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born.

## 10. The Creativity Dice

One of the most useful problem solving skills you can teach your team is of approaching challenges with creativity, flexibility, and openness. Games like The Creativity Dice allow teams to overcome the potential hurdle of too much linear thinking and approach the process with a sense of fun and speed.

In The Creativity Dice, participants are organized around a topic and roll a dice to determine what they will work on for a period of 3 minutes at a time. They might roll a 3 and work on investigating factual information on the chosen topic. They might roll a 1 and work on identifying the specific goals, standards, or criteria for the session.

Encouraging rapid work and iteration while asking participants to be flexible are great skills to cultivate. Having a stage for idea incubation in this game is also important. Moments of pause can help ensure the ideas that are put forward are the most suitable.

The Creativity Dice #creativity #problem solving #thiagi #issue analysis Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

## 11. Fishbone Analysis

Organizational or team challenges are rarely simple, and it’s important to remember that one problem can be an indication of something that goes deeper and may require further consideration to be solved.

Fishbone Analysis helps groups to dig deeper and understand the origins of a problem. It’s a great example of a root cause analysis method that is simple for everyone on a team to get their head around.

Participants in this activity are asked to annotate a diagram of a fish, first adding the problem or issue to be worked on at the head of a fish before then brainstorming the root causes of the problem and adding them as bones on the fish.

Using abstractions such as a diagram of a fish can really help a team break out of their regular thinking and develop a creative approach.

Fishbone Analysis #problem solving ##root cause analysis #decision making #online facilitation A process to help identify and understand the origins of problems, issues or observations.

## 12. Problem Tree

Encouraging visual thinking can be an essential part of many strategies. By simply reframing and clarifying problems, a group can move towards developing a problem solving model that works for them.

In Problem Tree, groups are asked to first brainstorm a list of problems – these can be design problems, team problems or larger business problems – and then organize them into a hierarchy. The hierarchy could be from most important to least important or abstract to practical, though the key thing with problem solving games that involve this aspect is that your group has some way of managing and sorting all the issues that are raised.

Once you have a list of problems that need to be solved and have organized them accordingly, you’re then well-positioned for the next problem solving steps.

Problem tree #define intentions #create #design #issue analysis A problem tree is a tool to clarify the hierarchy of problems addressed by the team within a design project; it represents high level problems or related sublevel problems.

## 13. SWOT Analysis

Chances are you’ve heard of the SWOT Analysis before. This problem-solving method focuses on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a tried and tested method for both individuals and teams.

Start by creating a desired end state or outcome and bare this in mind – any process solving model is made more effective by knowing what you are moving towards. Create a quadrant made up of the four categories of a SWOT analysis and ask participants to generate ideas based on each of those quadrants.

Once you have those ideas assembled in their quadrants, cluster them together based on their affinity with other ideas. These clusters are then used to facilitate group conversations and move things forward.

SWOT analysis #gamestorming #problem solving #action #meeting facilitation The SWOT Analysis is a long-standing technique of looking at what we have, with respect to the desired end state, as well as what we could improve on. It gives us an opportunity to gauge approaching opportunities and dangers, and assess the seriousness of the conditions that affect our future. When we understand those conditions, we can influence what comes next.

## 14. Agreement-Certainty Matrix

Not every problem-solving approach is right for every challenge, and deciding on the right method for the challenge at hand is a key part of being an effective team.

The Agreement Certainty matrix helps teams align on the nature of the challenges facing them. By sorting problems from simple to chaotic, your team can understand what methods are suitable for each problem and what they can do to ensure effective results.

If you are already using Liberating Structures techniques as part of your problem-solving strategy, the Agreement-Certainty Matrix can be an invaluable addition to your process. We’ve found it particularly if you are having issues with recurring problems in your organization and want to go deeper in understanding the root cause.

Agreement-Certainty Matrix #issue analysis #liberating structures #problem solving You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic . A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate. It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably. A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail. Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward. A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Organizing and charting a team’s progress can be important in ensuring its success. SQUID (Sequential Question and Insight Diagram) is a great model that allows a team to effectively switch between giving questions and answers and develop the skills they need to stay on track throughout the process.

Begin with two different colored sticky notes – one for questions and one for answers – and with your central topic (the head of the squid) on the board. Ask the group to first come up with a series of questions connected to their best guess of how to approach the topic. Ask the group to come up with answers to those questions, fix them to the board and connect them with a line. After some discussion, go back to question mode by responding to the generated answers or other points on the board.

It’s rewarding to see a diagram grow throughout the exercise, and a completed SQUID can provide a visual resource for future effort and as an example for other teams.

SQUID #gamestorming #project planning #issue analysis #problem solving When exploring an information space, it’s important for a group to know where they are at any given time. By using SQUID, a group charts out the territory as they go and can navigate accordingly. SQUID stands for Sequential Question and Insight Diagram.

## 16. Speed Boat

To continue with our nautical theme, Speed Boat is a short and sweet activity that can help a team quickly identify what employees, clients or service users might have a problem with and analyze what might be standing in the way of achieving a solution.

Methods that allow for a group to make observations, have insights and obtain those eureka moments quickly are invaluable when trying to solve complex problems.

In Speed Boat, the approach is to first consider what anchors and challenges might be holding an organization (or boat) back. Bonus points if you are able to identify any sharks in the water and develop ideas that can also deal with competitors!

Speed Boat #gamestorming #problem solving #action Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.

## 17. The Journalistic Six

Some of the most effective ways of solving problems is by encouraging teams to be more inclusive and diverse in their thinking.

Based on the six key questions journalism students are taught to answer in articles and news stories, The Journalistic Six helps create teams to see the whole picture. By using who, what, when, where, why, and how to facilitate the conversation and encourage creative thinking, your team can make sure that the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the are covered exhaustively and thoughtfully. Reporter’s notebook and dictaphone optional.

The Journalistic Six – Who What When Where Why How #idea generation #issue analysis #problem solving #online #creative thinking #remote-friendly A questioning method for generating, explaining, investigating ideas.

## 18. LEGO Challenge

Now for an activity that is a little out of the (toy) box. LEGO Serious Play is a facilitation methodology that can be used to improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

The LEGO Challenge includes giving each member of the team an assignment that is hidden from the rest of the group while they create a structure without speaking.

What the LEGO challenge brings to the table is a fun working example of working with stakeholders who might not be on the same page to solve problems. Also, it’s LEGO! Who doesn’t love LEGO!

LEGO Challenge #hyperisland #team A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

## 19. What, So What, Now What?

If not carefully managed, the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the problem-solving process can actually create more problems and misunderstandings.

The What, So What, Now What? problem-solving activity is designed to help collect insights and move forward while also eliminating the possibility of disagreement when it comes to identifying, clarifying, and analyzing organizational or work problems.

Facilitation is all about bringing groups together so that might work on a shared goal and the best problem-solving strategies ensure that teams are aligned in purpose, if not initially in opinion or insight.

Throughout the three steps of this game, you give everyone on a team to reflect on a problem by asking what happened, why it is important, and what actions should then be taken.

This can be a great activity for bringing our individual perceptions about a problem or challenge and contextualizing it in a larger group setting. This is one of the most important problem-solving skills you can bring to your organization.

W³ – What, So What, Now What? #issue analysis #innovation #liberating structures You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict. It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What . The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

## 20. Journalists

Problem analysis can be one of the most important and decisive stages of all problem-solving tools. Sometimes, a team can become bogged down in the details and are unable to move forward.

Journalists is an activity that can avoid a group from getting stuck in the problem identification or problem analysis stages of the process.

In Journalists, the group is invited to draft the front page of a fictional newspaper and figure out what stories deserve to be on the cover and what headlines those stories will have. By reframing how your problems and challenges are approached, you can help a team move productively through the process and be better prepared for the steps to follow.

Journalists #vision #big picture #issue analysis #remote-friendly This is an exercise to use when the group gets stuck in details and struggles to see the big picture. Also good for defining a vision.

## Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions

The success of any problem-solving process can be measured by the solutions it produces. After you’ve defined the issue, explored existing ideas, and ideated, it’s time to narrow down to the correct solution.

Use these problem-solving techniques when you want to help your team find consensus, compare possible solutions, and move towards taking action on a particular problem.

- Improved Solutions
- Four-Step Sketch
- 15% Solutions
- How-Now-Wow matrix
- Impact Effort Matrix

## 21. Mindspin

Brainstorming is part of the bread and butter of the problem-solving process and all problem-solving strategies benefit from getting ideas out and challenging a team to generate solutions quickly.

With Mindspin, participants are encouraged not only to generate ideas but to do so under time constraints and by slamming down cards and passing them on. By doing multiple rounds, your team can begin with a free generation of possible solutions before moving on to developing those solutions and encouraging further ideation.

This is one of our favorite problem-solving activities and can be great for keeping the energy up throughout the workshop. Remember the importance of helping people become engaged in the process – energizing problem-solving techniques like Mindspin can help ensure your team stays engaged and happy, even when the problems they’re coming together to solve are complex.

MindSpin #teampedia #idea generation #problem solving #action A fast and loud method to enhance brainstorming within a team. Since this activity has more than round ideas that are repetitive can be ruled out leaving more creative and innovative answers to the challenge.

## 22. Improved Solutions

After a team has successfully identified a problem and come up with a few solutions, it can be tempting to call the work of the problem-solving process complete. That said, the first solution is not necessarily the best, and by including a further review and reflection activity into your problem-solving model, you can ensure your group reaches the best possible result.

One of a number of problem-solving games from Thiagi Group, Improved Solutions helps you go the extra mile and develop suggested solutions with close consideration and peer review. By supporting the discussion of several problems at once and by shifting team roles throughout, this problem-solving technique is a dynamic way of finding the best solution.

Improved Solutions #creativity #thiagi #problem solving #action #team You can improve any solution by objectively reviewing its strengths and weaknesses and making suitable adjustments. In this creativity framegame, you improve the solutions to several problems. To maintain objective detachment, you deal with a different problem during each of six rounds and assume different roles (problem owner, consultant, basher, booster, enhancer, and evaluator) during each round. At the conclusion of the activity, each player ends up with two solutions to her problem.

## 23. Four Step Sketch

Creative thinking and visual ideation does not need to be confined to the opening stages of your problem-solving strategies. Exercises that include sketching and prototyping on paper can be effective at the solution finding and development stage of the process, and can be great for keeping a team engaged.

By going from simple notes to a crazy 8s round that involves rapidly sketching 8 variations on their ideas before then producing a final solution sketch, the group is able to iterate quickly and visually. Problem-solving techniques like Four-Step Sketch are great if you have a group of different thinkers and want to change things up from a more textual or discussion-based approach.

Four-Step Sketch #design sprint #innovation #idea generation #remote-friendly The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes: Review key information Start design work on paper, Consider multiple variations , Create a detailed solution . This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

## 24. 15% Solutions

Some problems are simpler than others and with the right problem-solving activities, you can empower people to take immediate actions that can help create organizational change.

Part of the liberating structures toolkit, 15% solutions is a problem-solving technique that focuses on finding and implementing solutions quickly. A process of iterating and making small changes quickly can help generate momentum and an appetite for solving complex problems.

Problem-solving strategies can live and die on whether people are onboard. Getting some quick wins is a great way of getting people behind the process.

It can be extremely empowering for a team to realize that problem-solving techniques can be deployed quickly and easily and delineate between things they can positively impact and those things they cannot change.

15% Solutions #action #liberating structures #remote-friendly You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference. 15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change. With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

## 25. How-Now-Wow Matrix

The problem-solving process is often creative, as complex problems usually require a change of thinking and creative response in order to find the best solutions. While it’s common for the first stages to encourage creative thinking, groups can often gravitate to familiar solutions when it comes to the end of the process.

When selecting solutions, you don’t want to lose your creative energy! The How-Now-Wow Matrix from Gamestorming is a great problem-solving activity that enables a group to stay creative and think out of the box when it comes to selecting the right solution for a given problem.

Problem-solving techniques that encourage creative thinking and the ideation and selection of new solutions can be the most effective in organisational change. Give the How-Now-Wow Matrix a go, and not just for how pleasant it is to say out loud.

How-Now-Wow Matrix #gamestorming #idea generation #remote-friendly When people want to develop new ideas, they most often think out of the box in the brainstorming or divergent phase. However, when it comes to convergence, people often end up picking ideas that are most familiar to them. This is called a ‘creative paradox’ or a ‘creadox’. The How-Now-Wow matrix is an idea selection tool that breaks the creadox by forcing people to weigh each idea on 2 parameters.

## 26. Impact and Effort Matrix

All problem-solving techniques hope to not only find solutions to a given problem or challenge but to find the best solution. When it comes to finding a solution, groups are invited to put on their decision-making hats and really think about how a proposed idea would work in practice.

The Impact and Effort Matrix is one of the problem-solving techniques that fall into this camp, empowering participants to first generate ideas and then categorize them into a 2×2 matrix based on impact and effort.

Activities that invite critical thinking while remaining simple are invaluable. Use the Impact and Effort Matrix to move from ideation and towards evaluating potential solutions before then committing to them.

Impact and Effort Matrix #gamestorming #decision making #action #remote-friendly In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

## 27. Dotmocracy

If you’ve followed each of the problem-solving steps with your group successfully, you should move towards the end of your process with heaps of possible solutions developed with a specific problem in mind. But how do you help a group go from ideation to putting a solution into action?

Dotmocracy – or Dot Voting -is a tried and tested method of helping a team in the problem-solving process make decisions and put actions in place with a degree of oversight and consensus.

One of the problem-solving techniques that should be in every facilitator’s toolbox, Dot Voting is fast and effective and can help identify the most popular and best solutions and help bring a group to a decision effectively.

Dotmocracy #action #decision making #group prioritization #hyperisland #remote-friendly Dotmocracy is a simple method for group prioritization or decision-making. It is not an activity on its own, but a method to use in processes where prioritization or decision-making is the aim. The method supports a group to quickly see which options are most popular or relevant. The options or ideas are written on post-its and stuck up on a wall for the whole group to see. Each person votes for the options they think are the strongest, and that information is used to inform a decision.

All facilitators know that warm-ups and icebreakers are useful for any workshop or group process. Problem-solving workshops are no different.

Use these problem-solving techniques to warm up a group and prepare them for the rest of the process. Activating your group by tapping into some of the top problem-solving skills can be one of the best ways to see great outcomes from your session.

- Check-in/Check-out
- Doodling Together
- Show and Tell
- Constellations
- Draw a Tree

## 28. Check-in / Check-out

Solid processes are planned from beginning to end, and the best facilitators know that setting the tone and establishing a safe, open environment can be integral to a successful problem-solving process.

Check-in / Check-out is a great way to begin and/or bookend a problem-solving workshop. Checking in to a session emphasizes that everyone will be seen, heard, and expected to contribute.

If you are running a series of meetings, setting a consistent pattern of checking in and checking out can really help your team get into a groove. We recommend this opening-closing activity for small to medium-sized groups though it can work with large groups if they’re disciplined!

Check-in / Check-out #team #opening #closing #hyperisland #remote-friendly Either checking-in or checking-out is a simple way for a team to open or close a process, symbolically and in a collaborative way. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen and heard, and to express a reflection or a feeling. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and symbolic closure.

## 29. Doodling Together

Thinking creatively and not being afraid to make suggestions are important problem-solving skills for any group or team, and warming up by encouraging these behaviors is a great way to start.

Doodling Together is one of our favorite creative ice breaker games – it’s quick, effective, and fun and can make all following problem-solving steps easier by encouraging a group to collaborate visually. By passing cards and adding additional items as they go, the workshop group gets into a groove of co-creation and idea development that is crucial to finding solutions to problems.

Doodling Together #collaboration #creativity #teamwork #fun #team #visual methods #energiser #icebreaker #remote-friendly Create wild, weird and often funny postcards together & establish a group’s creative confidence.

## 30. Show and Tell

You might remember some version of Show and Tell from being a kid in school and it’s a great problem-solving activity to kick off a session.

Asking participants to prepare a little something before a workshop by bringing an object for show and tell can help them warm up before the session has even begun! Games that include a physical object can also help encourage early engagement before moving onto more big-picture thinking.

By asking your participants to tell stories about why they chose to bring a particular item to the group, you can help teams see things from new perspectives and see both differences and similarities in the way they approach a topic. Great groundwork for approaching a problem-solving process as a team!

Show and Tell #gamestorming #action #opening #meeting facilitation Show and Tell taps into the power of metaphors to reveal players’ underlying assumptions and associations around a topic The aim of the game is to get a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on anything—a new project, an organizational restructuring, a shift in the company’s vision or team dynamic.

## 31. Constellations

Who doesn’t love stars? Constellations is a great warm-up activity for any workshop as it gets people up off their feet, energized, and ready to engage in new ways with established topics. It’s also great for showing existing beliefs, biases, and patterns that can come into play as part of your session.

Using warm-up games that help build trust and connection while also allowing for non-verbal responses can be great for easing people into the problem-solving process and encouraging engagement from everyone in the group. Constellations is great in large spaces that allow for movement and is definitely a practical exercise to allow the group to see patterns that are otherwise invisible.

Constellations #trust #connection #opening #coaching #patterns #system Individuals express their response to a statement or idea by standing closer or further from a central object. Used with teams to reveal system, hidden patterns, perspectives.

## 32. Draw a Tree

Problem-solving games that help raise group awareness through a central, unifying metaphor can be effective ways to warm-up a group in any problem-solving model.

Draw a Tree is a simple warm-up activity you can use in any group and which can provide a quick jolt of energy. Start by asking your participants to draw a tree in just 45 seconds – they can choose whether it will be abstract or realistic.

Once the timer is up, ask the group how many people included the roots of the tree and use this as a means to discuss how we can ignore important parts of any system simply because they are not visible.

All problem-solving strategies are made more effective by thinking of problems critically and by exposing things that may not normally come to light. Warm-up games like Draw a Tree are great in that they quickly demonstrate some key problem-solving skills in an accessible and effective way.

Draw a Tree #thiagi #opening #perspectives #remote-friendly With this game you can raise awarness about being more mindful, and aware of the environment we live in.

Each step of the problem-solving workshop benefits from an intelligent deployment of activities, games, and techniques. Bringing your session to an effective close helps ensure that solutions are followed through on and that you also celebrate what has been achieved.

Here are some problem-solving activities you can use to effectively close a workshop or meeting and ensure the great work you’ve done can continue afterward.

- One Breath Feedback
- Who What When Matrix
- Response Cards

## How do I conclude a problem-solving process?

All good things must come to an end. With the bulk of the work done, it can be tempting to conclude your workshop swiftly and without a moment to debrief and align. This can be problematic in that it doesn’t allow your team to fully process the results or reflect on the process.

At the end of an effective session, your team will have gone through a process that, while productive, can be exhausting. It’s important to give your group a moment to take a breath, ensure that they are clear on future actions, and provide short feedback before leaving the space.

The primary purpose of any problem-solving method is to generate solutions and then implement them. Be sure to take the opportunity to ensure everyone is aligned and ready to effectively implement the solutions you produced in the workshop.

Remember that every process can be improved and by giving a short moment to collect feedback in the session, you can further refine your problem-solving methods and see further success in the future too.

## 33. One Breath Feedback

Maintaining attention and focus during the closing stages of a problem-solving workshop can be tricky and so being concise when giving feedback can be important. It’s easy to incur “death by feedback” should some team members go on for too long sharing their perspectives in a quick feedback round.

One Breath Feedback is a great closing activity for workshops. You give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on what they’ve done but only in the space of a single breath. This keeps feedback short and to the point and means that everyone is encouraged to provide the most important piece of feedback to them.

One breath feedback #closing #feedback #action This is a feedback round in just one breath that excels in maintaining attention: each participants is able to speak during just one breath … for most people that’s around 20 to 25 seconds … unless of course you’ve been a deep sea diver in which case you’ll be able to do it for longer.

## 34. Who What When Matrix

Matrices feature as part of many effective problem-solving strategies and with good reason. They are easily recognizable, simple to use, and generate results.

The Who What When Matrix is a great tool to use when closing your problem-solving session by attributing a who, what and when to the actions and solutions you have decided upon. The resulting matrix is a simple, easy-to-follow way of ensuring your team can move forward.

Great solutions can’t be enacted without action and ownership. Your problem-solving process should include a stage for allocating tasks to individuals or teams and creating a realistic timeframe for those solutions to be implemented or checked out. Use this method to keep the solution implementation process clear and simple for all involved.

Who/What/When Matrix #gamestorming #action #project planning With Who/What/When matrix, you can connect people with clear actions they have defined and have committed to.

## 35. Response cards

Group discussion can comprise the bulk of most problem-solving activities and by the end of the process, you might find that your team is talked out!

Providing a means for your team to give feedback with short written notes can ensure everyone is head and can contribute without the need to stand up and talk. Depending on the needs of the group, giving an alternative can help ensure everyone can contribute to your problem-solving model in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Response Cards is a great way to close a workshop if you are looking for a gentle warm-down and want to get some swift discussion around some of the feedback that is raised.

Response Cards #debriefing #closing #structured sharing #questions and answers #thiagi #action It can be hard to involve everyone during a closing of a session. Some might stay in the background or get unheard because of louder participants. However, with the use of Response Cards, everyone will be involved in providing feedback or clarify questions at the end of a session.

## Save time and effort discovering the right solutions

A structured problem solving process is a surefire way of solving tough problems, discovering creative solutions and driving organizational change. But how can you design for successful outcomes?

With SessionLab, it’s easy to design engaging workshops that deliver results. Drag, drop and reorder blocks to build your agenda. When you make changes or update your agenda, your session timing adjusts automatically , saving you time on manual adjustments.

Collaborating with stakeholders or clients? Share your agenda with a single click and collaborate in real-time. No more sending documents back and forth over email.

Explore how to use SessionLab to design effective problem solving workshops or watch this five minute video to see the planner in action!

## Over to you

The problem-solving process can often be as complicated and multifaceted as the problems they are set-up to solve. With the right problem-solving techniques and a mix of creative exercises designed to guide discussion and generate purposeful ideas, we hope we’ve given you the tools to find the best solutions as simply and easily as possible.

Is there a problem-solving technique that you are missing here? Do you have a favorite activity or method you use when facilitating? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

thank you very much for these excellent techniques

Certainly wonderful article, very detailed. Shared!

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## Problem-Solving Strategies and Obstacles

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology, field research, and data analytics.

JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

- Application
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From deciding what to eat for dinner to considering whether it's the right time to buy a house, problem-solving is a large part of our daily lives. Learn some of the problem-solving strategies that exist and how to use them in real life, along with ways to overcome obstacles that are making it harder to resolve the issues you face.

## What Is Problem-Solving?

In cognitive psychology , the term 'problem-solving' refers to the mental process that people go through to discover, analyze, and solve problems.

A problem exists when there is a goal that we want to achieve but the process by which we will achieve it is not obvious to us. Put another way, there is something that we want to occur in our life, yet we are not immediately certain how to make it happen.

Maybe you want a better relationship with your spouse or another family member but you're not sure how to improve it. Or you want to start a business but are unsure what steps to take. Problem-solving helps you figure out how to achieve these desires.

The problem-solving process involves:

- Discovery of the problem
- Deciding to tackle the issue
- Seeking to understand the problem more fully
- Researching available options or solutions
- Taking action to resolve the issue

Before problem-solving can occur, it is important to first understand the exact nature of the problem itself. If your understanding of the issue is faulty, your attempts to resolve it will also be incorrect or flawed.

## Problem-Solving Mental Processes

Several mental processes are at work during problem-solving. Among them are:

- Perceptually recognizing the problem
- Representing the problem in memory
- Considering relevant information that applies to the problem
- Identifying different aspects of the problem
- Labeling and describing the problem

## Problem-Solving Strategies

There are many ways to go about solving a problem. Some of these strategies might be used on their own, or you may decide to employ multiple approaches when working to figure out and fix a problem.

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure that, by following certain "rules" produces a solution. Algorithms are commonly used in mathematics to solve division or multiplication problems. But they can be used in other fields as well.

In psychology, algorithms can be used to help identify individuals with a greater risk of mental health issues. For instance, research suggests that certain algorithms might help us recognize children with an elevated risk of suicide or self-harm.

One benefit of algorithms is that they guarantee an accurate answer. However, they aren't always the best approach to problem-solving, in part because detecting patterns can be incredibly time-consuming.

There are also concerns when machine learning is involved—also known as artificial intelligence (AI)—such as whether they can accurately predict human behaviors.

Heuristics are shortcut strategies that people can use to solve a problem at hand. These "rule of thumb" approaches allow you to simplify complex problems, reducing the total number of possible solutions to a more manageable set.

If you find yourself sitting in a traffic jam, for example, you may quickly consider other routes, taking one to get moving once again. When shopping for a new car, you might think back to a prior experience when negotiating got you a lower price, then employ the same tactics.

While heuristics may be helpful when facing smaller issues, major decisions shouldn't necessarily be made using a shortcut approach. Heuristics also don't guarantee an effective solution, such as when trying to drive around a traffic jam only to find yourself on an equally crowded route.

## Trial and Error

A trial-and-error approach to problem-solving involves trying a number of potential solutions to a particular issue, then ruling out those that do not work. If you're not sure whether to buy a shirt in blue or green, for instance, you may try on each before deciding which one to purchase.

This can be a good strategy to use if you have a limited number of solutions available. But if there are many different choices available, narrowing down the possible options using another problem-solving technique can be helpful before attempting trial and error.

In some cases, the solution to a problem can appear as a sudden insight. You are facing an issue in a relationship or your career when, out of nowhere, the solution appears in your mind and you know exactly what to do.

Insight can occur when the problem in front of you is similar to an issue that you've dealt with in the past. Although, you may not recognize what is occurring since the underlying mental processes that lead to insight often happen outside of conscious awareness .

Research indicates that insight is most likely to occur during times when you are alone—such as when going on a walk by yourself, when you're in the shower, or when lying in bed after waking up.

## How to Apply Problem-Solving Strategies in Real Life

If you're facing a problem, you can implement one or more of these strategies to find a potential solution. Here's how to use them in real life:

- Create a flow chart . If you have time, you can take advantage of the algorithm approach to problem-solving by sitting down and making a flow chart of each potential solution, its consequences, and what happens next.
- Recall your past experiences . When a problem needs to be solved fairly quickly, heuristics may be a better approach. Think back to when you faced a similar issue, then use your knowledge and experience to choose the best option possible.
- Start trying potential solutions . If your options are limited, start trying them one by one to see which solution is best for achieving your desired goal. If a particular solution doesn't work, move on to the next.
- Take some time alone . Since insight is often achieved when you're alone, carve out time to be by yourself for a while. The answer to your problem may come to you, seemingly out of the blue, if you spend some time away from others.

## Obstacles to Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is not a flawless process as there are a number of obstacles that can interfere with our ability to solve a problem quickly and efficiently. These obstacles include:

- Assumptions: When dealing with a problem, people can make assumptions about the constraints and obstacles that prevent certain solutions. Thus, they may not even try some potential options.
- Functional fixedness : This term refers to the tendency to view problems only in their customary manner. Functional fixedness prevents people from fully seeing all of the different options that might be available to find a solution.
- Irrelevant or misleading information: When trying to solve a problem, it's important to distinguish between information that is relevant to the issue and irrelevant data that can lead to faulty solutions. The more complex the problem, the easier it is to focus on misleading or irrelevant information.
- Mental set: A mental set is a tendency to only use solutions that have worked in the past rather than looking for alternative ideas. A mental set can work as a heuristic, making it a useful problem-solving tool. However, mental sets can also lead to inflexibility, making it more difficult to find effective solutions.

## How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

In the end, if your goal is to become a better problem-solver, it's helpful to remember that this is a process. Thus, if you want to improve your problem-solving skills, following these steps can help lead you to your solution:

- Recognize that a problem exists . If you are facing a problem, there are generally signs. For instance, if you have a mental illness , you may experience excessive fear or sadness, mood changes, and changes in sleeping or eating habits. Recognizing these signs can help you realize that an issue exists.
- Decide to solve the problem . Make a conscious decision to solve the issue at hand. Commit to yourself that you will go through the steps necessary to find a solution.
- Seek to fully understand the issue . Analyze the problem you face, looking at it from all sides. If your problem is relationship-related, for instance, ask yourself how the other person may be interpreting the issue. You might also consider how your actions might be contributing to the situation.
- Research potential options . Using the problem-solving strategies mentioned, research potential solutions. Make a list of options, then consider each one individually. What are some pros and cons of taking the available routes? What would you need to do to make them happen?
- Take action . Select the best solution possible and take action. Action is one of the steps required for change . So, go through the motions needed to resolve the issue.
- Try another option, if needed . If the solution you chose didn't work, don't give up. Either go through the problem-solving process again or simply try another option.

You can find a way to solve your problems as long as you keep working toward this goal—even if the best solution is simply to let go because no other good solution exists.

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving . Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

Dunbar K. Problem solving . A Companion to Cognitive Science . 2017. doi:10.1002/9781405164535.ch20

Stewart SL, Celebre A, Hirdes JP, Poss JW. Risk of suicide and self-harm in kids: The development of an algorithm to identify high-risk individuals within the children's mental health system . Child Psychiat Human Develop . 2020;51:913-924. doi:10.1007/s10578-020-00968-9

Rosenbusch H, Soldner F, Evans AM, Zeelenberg M. Supervised machine learning methods in psychology: A practical introduction with annotated R code . Soc Personal Psychol Compass . 2021;15(2):e12579. doi:10.1111/spc3.12579

Mishra S. Decision-making under risk: Integrating perspectives from biology, economics, and psychology . Personal Soc Psychol Rev . 2014;18(3):280-307. doi:10.1177/1088868314530517

Csikszentmihalyi M, Sawyer K. Creative insight: The social dimension of a solitary moment . In: The Systems Model of Creativity . 2015:73-98. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9085-7_7

Chrysikou EG, Motyka K, Nigro C, Yang SI, Thompson-Schill SL. Functional fixedness in creative thinking tasks depends on stimulus modality . Psychol Aesthet Creat Arts . 2016;10(4):425‐435. doi:10.1037/aca0000050

Huang F, Tang S, Hu Z. Unconditional perseveration of the short-term mental set in chunk decomposition . Front Psychol . 2018;9:2568. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02568

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By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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## 15 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions

In an interview for a big tech company, I was asked if I’d ever resolved a fight — and the exact way I went about handling it. I felt blindsided, and I stammered my way through an excuse of an answer.

It’s a familiar scenario to fellow technical job seekers — and one that risks leaving a sour taste in our mouths. As candidate experience becomes an increasingly critical component of the hiring process, recruiters need to ensure the problem-solving interview questions they prepare don’t dissuade talent in the first place.

Interview questions designed to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving skills are more often than not challenging and vague. Assessing a multifaceted skill like problem solving is tricky — a good problem solver owns the full solution and result, researches well, solves creatively and takes action proactively.

It’s hard to establish an effective way to measure such a skill. But it’s not impossible.

We recommend taking an informed and prepared approach to testing candidates’ problem-solving skills . With that in mind, here’s a list of a few common problem-solving interview questions, the science behind them — and how you can go about administering your own problem-solving questions with the unique challenges of your organization in mind.

## Key Takeaways for Effective Problem-Solving Interview Questions

- Problem solving lies at the heart of programming.
- Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE. Problem-solving interview questions should test both technical skills and soft skills.
- STAR, SOAR and PREP are methods a candidate can use to answer some non-technical problem-solving interview questions.
- Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s fit. But you can go one step further by customizing them according to your company’s service, product, vision, and culture.

## Technical Problem-Solving Interview Question Examples

Evaluating a candidates’ problem-solving skills while using coding challenges might seem intimidating. The secret is that coding challenges test many things at the same time — like the candidate’s knowledge of data structures and algorithms, clean code practices, and proficiency in specific programming languages, to name a few examples.

Problem solving itself might at first seem like it’s taking a back seat. But technical problem solving lies at the heart of programming, and most coding questions are designed to test a candidate’s problem-solving abilities.

Here are a few examples of technical problem-solving questions:

## 1. Mini-Max Sum

This well-known challenge, which asks the interviewee to find the maximum and minimum sum among an array of given numbers, is based on a basic but important programming concept called sorting, as well as integer overflow. It tests the candidate’s observational skills, and the answer should elicit a logical, ad-hoc solution.

## 2. Organizing Containers of Balls

This problem tests the candidate’s knowledge of a variety of programming concepts, like 2D arrays, sorting and iteration. Organizing colored balls in containers based on various conditions is a common question asked in competitive examinations and job interviews, because it’s an effective way to test multiple facets of a candidate’s problem-solving skills.

## 3. Build a Palindrome

This is a tough problem to crack, and the candidate’s knowledge of concepts like strings and dynamic programming plays a significant role in solving this challenge. This problem-solving example tests the candidate’s ability to think on their feet as well as their ability to write clean, optimized code.

## 4. Subarray Division

Based on a technique used for searching pairs in a sorted array ( called the “two pointers” technique ), this problem can be solved in just a few lines and judges the candidate’s ability to optimize (as well as basic mathematical skills).

## 5. The Grid Search

This is a problem of moderate difficulty and tests the candidate’s knowledge of strings and searching algorithms, the latter of which is regularly tested in developer interviews across all levels.

## Common Non-Technical Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE . Everyday situations can help illustrate competency, so here are a few questions that focus on past experiences and hypothetical situations to help interviewers gauge problem-solving skills.

## 1. Given the problem of selecting a new tool to invest in, where and how would you begin this task?

Key Insight : This question offers insight into the candidate’s research skills. Ideally, they would begin by identifying the problem, interviewing stakeholders, gathering insights from the team, and researching what tools exist to best solve for the team’s challenges and goals.

## 2. Have you ever recognized a potential problem and addressed it before it occurred?

Key Insight: Prevention is often better than cure. The ability to recognize a problem before it occurs takes intuition and an understanding of business needs.

## 3. A teammate on a time-sensitive project confesses that he’s made a mistake, and it’s putting your team at risk of missing key deadlines. How would you respond?

Key Insight: Sometimes, all the preparation in the world still won’t stop a mishap. Thinking on your feet and managing stress are skills that this question attempts to unearth. Like any other skill, they can be cultivated through practice.

## 4. Tell me about a time you used a unique problem-solving approach.

Key Insight: Creativity can manifest in many ways, including original or novel ways to tackle a problem. Methods like the 10X approach and reverse brainstorming are a couple of unique approaches to problem solving.

## 5. Have you ever broken rules for the “greater good?” If yes, can you walk me through the situation?

Key Insight: “Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.” It’s unconventional, but in some situations, it may be the mindset needed to drive a solution to a problem.

## 6. Tell me about a weakness you overcame at work, and the approach you took.

Key Insight: According to Compass Partnership , “self-awareness allows us to understand how and why we respond in certain situations, giving us the opportunity to take charge of these responses.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with a problem. Candidates showing high levels of self-awareness are positioned to handle it well.

## 7. Have you ever owned up to a mistake at work? Can you tell me about it?

Key Insight: Everybody makes mistakes. But owning up to them can be tough, especially at a workplace. Not only does it take courage, but it also requires honesty and a willingness to improve, all signs of 1) a reliable employee and 2) an effective problem solver.

## 8. How would you approach working with an upset customer?

Key Insight: With the rise of empathy-driven development and more companies choosing to bridge the gap between users and engineers, today’s tech teams speak directly with customers more frequently than ever before. This question brings to light the candidate’s interpersonal skills in a client-facing environment.

## 9. Have you ever had to solve a problem on your own, but needed to ask for additional help? How did you go about it?

Key Insight: Knowing when you need assistance to complete a task or address a situation is an important quality to have while problem solving. This questions helps the interviewer get a sense of the candidate’s ability to navigate those waters.

## 10. Let’s say you disagree with your colleague on how to move forward with a project. How would you go about resolving the disagreement?

Key Insight: Conflict resolution is an extremely handy skill for any employee to have; an ideal answer to this question might contain a brief explanation of the conflict or situation, the role played by the candidate and the steps taken by them to arrive at a positive resolution or outcome.

## Strategies for Answering Problem-Solving Questions

If you’re a job seeker, chances are you’ll encounter this style of question in your various interview experiences. While problem-solving interview questions may appear simple, they can be easy to fumble — leaving the interviewer without a clear solution or outcome.

It’s important to approach such questions in a structured manner. Here are a few tried-and-true methods to employ in your next problem-solving interview.

## 1. Shine in Interviews With the STAR Method

S ituation, T ask, A ction, and R esult is a great method that can be employed to answer a problem-solving or behavioral interview question. Here’s a breakdown of these steps:

- Situation : A good way to address almost any interview question is to lay out and define the situation and circumstances.
- Task : Define the problem or goal that needs to be addressed. Coding questions are often multifaceted, so this step is particularly important when answering technical problem-solving questions.
- Action : How did you go about solving the problem? Try to be as specific as possible, and state your plan in steps if you can.
- Result : Wrap it up by stating the outcome achieved.

## 2. Rise above difficult questions using the SOAR method

A very similar approach to the STAR method, SOAR stands for S ituation, O bstacle, A ction, and R esults .

- Situation: Explain the state of affairs. It’s important to steer clear of stating any personal opinions in this step; focus on the facts.
- Obstacle: State the challenge or problem you faced.
- Action: Detail carefully how you went about overcoming this obstacle.
- Result: What was the end result? Apart from overcoming the obstacle, did you achieve anything else? What did you learn in the process?

## 3. Do It the PREP Way

Traditionally used as a method to make effective presentations, the P oint, R eason, E xample, P oint method can also be used to answer problem-solving interview questions.

- Point : State the solution in plain terms.
- Reasons: Follow up the solution by detailing your case — and include any data or insights that support your solution.
- Example: In addition to objective data and insights, drive your answer home by contextualizing the solution in a real-world example.
- Point : Reiterate the solution to make it come full circle.

## How to Customize Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s skill level, but recruiters can go one step further by customizing these problem-solving questions according to their company’s service, product, vision, or culture.

Here are some tips to do so:

- Break down the job’s responsibilities into smaller tasks. Job descriptions may contain ambiguous responsibilities like “manage team projects effectively.” To formulate an effective problem-solving question, envision what this task might look like in a real-world context and develop a question around it.
- Tailor questions to the role at hand. Apart from making for an effective problem-solving question, it gives the candidate the impression you’re an informed technical recruiter. For example, an engineer will likely have attended many scrums. So, a good question to ask is: “Suppose you notice your scrums are turning unproductive. How would you go about addressing this?”
- Consider the tools and technologies the candidate will use on the job. For example, if Jira is the primary project management tool, a good problem-solving interview question might be: “Can you tell me about a time you simplified a complex workflow — and the tools you used to do so?”
- If you don’t know where to start, your company’s core values can often provide direction. If one of the core values is “ownership,” for example, consider asking a question like: “Can you walk us through a project you owned from start to finish?”
- Sometimes, developing custom content can be difficult even with all these tips considered. Our platform has a vast selection of problem-solving examples that are designed to help recruiters ask the right questions to help nail their next technical interview.

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## How to Solve Problems

- Laura Amico

To bring the best ideas forward, teams must build psychological safety.

Teams today aren’t just asked to execute tasks: They’re called upon to solve problems. You’d think that many brains working together would mean better solutions, but the reality is that too often problem-solving teams fall victim to inefficiency, conflict, and cautious conclusions. The two charts below will help your team think about how to collaborate better and come up with the best solutions for the thorniest challenges.

- Laura Amico is a former senior editor at Harvard Business Review.

## Partner Center

## Top 20 Problem Solving Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

Mike Simpson 0 Comments

## By Mike Simpson

When candidates prepare for interviews, they usually focus on highlighting their leadership, communication, teamwork, and similar crucial soft skills . However, not everyone gets ready for problem-solving interview questions. And that can be a big mistake.

Problem-solving is relevant to nearly any job on the planet. Yes, it’s more prevalent in certain industries, but it’s helpful almost everywhere.

Regardless of the role you want to land, you may be asked to provide problem-solving examples or describe how you would deal with specific situations. That’s why being ready to showcase your problem-solving skills is so vital.

If you aren’t sure who to tackle problem-solving questions, don’t worry, we have your back. Come with us as we explore this exciting part of the interview process, as well as some problem-solving interview questions and example answers.

## What Is Problem-Solving?

When you’re trying to land a position, there’s a good chance you’ll face some problem-solving interview questions. But what exactly is problem-solving? And why is it so important to hiring managers?

Well, the good folks at Merriam-Webster define problem-solving as “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” While that may seem like common sense, there’s a critical part to that definition that should catch your eye.

What part is that? The word “process.”

In the end, problem-solving is an activity. It’s your ability to take appropriate steps to find answers, determine how to proceed, or otherwise overcome the challenge.

Being great at it usually means having a range of helpful problem-solving skills and traits. Research, diligence, patience, attention-to-detail , collaboration… they can all play a role. So can analytical thinking , creativity, and open-mindedness.

But why do hiring managers worry about your problem-solving skills? Well, mainly, because every job comes with its fair share of problems.

While problem-solving is relevant to scientific, technical, legal, medical, and a whole slew of other careers. It helps you overcome challenges and deal with the unexpected. It plays a role in troubleshooting and innovation. That’s why it matters to hiring managers.

## How to Answer Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Okay, before we get to our examples, let’s take a quick second to talk about strategy. Knowing how to answer problem-solving interview questions is crucial. Why? Because the hiring manager might ask you something that you don’t anticipate.

Problem-solving interview questions are all about seeing how you think. As a result, they can be a bit… unconventional.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill job interview questions . Instead, they are tricky behavioral interview questions . After all, the goal is to find out how you approach problem-solving, so most are going to feature scenarios, brainteasers, or something similar.

So, having a great strategy means knowing how to deal with behavioral questions. Luckily, there are a couple of tools that can help.

First, when it comes to the classic approach to behavioral interview questions, look no further than the STAR Method . With the STAR method, you learn how to turn your answers into captivating stories. This makes your responses tons more engaging, ensuring you keep the hiring manager’s attention from beginning to end.

Now, should you stop with the STAR Method? Of course not. If you want to take your answers to the next level, spend some time with the Tailoring Method , too.

With the Tailoring Method, it’s all about relevance. So, if you get a chance to choose an example that demonstrates your problem-solving skills, this is really the way to go.

We also wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!

Click below to get your free PDF now:

## Get Our Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet!

FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you " word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview .

CLICK HERE TO GET THE JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS CHEAT SHEET

## Top 3 Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

Alright, here is what you’ve been waiting for: the problem-solving questions and sample answers.

While many questions in this category are job-specific, these tend to apply to nearly any job. That means there’s a good chance you’ll come across them at some point in your career, making them a great starting point when you’re practicing for an interview.

So, let’s dive in, shall we? Here’s a look at the top three problem-solving interview questions and example responses.

## 1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a challenging problem?

In the land of problem-solving questions, this one might be your best-case scenario. It lets you choose your own problem-solving examples to highlight, putting you in complete control.

When you choose an example, go with one that is relevant to what you’ll face in the role. The closer the match, the better the answer is in the eyes of the hiring manager.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“While working as a mobile telecom support specialist for a large organization, we had to transition our MDM service from one vendor to another within 45 days. This personally physically handling 500 devices within the agency. Devices had to be gathered from the headquarters and satellite offices, which were located all across the state, something that was challenging even without the tight deadline. I approached the situation by identifying the location assignment of all personnel within the organization, enabling me to estimate transit times for receiving the devices. Next, I timed out how many devices I could personally update in a day. Together, this allowed me to create a general timeline. After that, I coordinated with each location, both expressing the urgency of adhering to deadlines and scheduling bulk shipping options. While there were occasional bouts of resistance, I worked with location leaders to calm concerns and facilitate action. While performing all of the updates was daunting, my approach to organizing the event made it a success. Ultimately, the entire transition was finished five days before the deadline, exceeding the expectations of many.”

## 2. Describe a time where you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?

While this might not look like it’s based on problem-solving on the surface, it actually is. When you make a mistake, it creates a challenge, one you have to work your way through. At a minimum, it’s an opportunity to highlight problem-solving skills, even if you don’t address the topic directly.

When you choose an example, you want to go with a situation where the end was positive. However, the issue still has to be significant, causing something negative to happen in the moment that you, ideally, overcame.

“When I first began in a supervisory role, I had trouble setting down my individual contributor hat. I tried to keep up with my past duties while also taking on the responsibilities of my new role. As a result, I began rushing and introduced an error into the code of the software my team was updating. The error led to a memory leak. We became aware of the issue when the performance was hindered, though we didn’t immediately know the cause. I dove back into the code, reviewing recent changes, and, ultimately, determined the issue was a mistake on my end. When I made that discovery, I took several steps. First, I let my team know that the error was mine and let them know its nature. Second, I worked with my team to correct the issue, resolving the memory leak. Finally, I took this as a lesson about delegation. I began assigning work to my team more effectively, a move that allowed me to excel as a manager and help them thrive as contributors. It was a crucial learning moment, one that I have valued every day since.”

## 3. If you identify a potential risk in a project, what steps do you take to prevent it?

Yes, this is also a problem-solving question. The difference is, with this one, it’s not about fixing an issue; it’s about stopping it from happening. Still, you use problem-solving skills along the way, so it falls in this question category.

If you can, use an example of a moment when you mitigated risk in the past. If you haven’t had that opportunity, approach it theoretically, discussing the steps you would take to prevent an issue from developing.

“If I identify a potential risk in a project, my first step is to assess the various factors that could lead to a poor outcome. Prevention requires analysis. Ensuring I fully understand what can trigger the undesired event creates the right foundation, allowing me to figure out how to reduce the likelihood of those events occurring. Once I have the right level of understanding, I come up with a mitigation plan. Exactly what this includes varies depending on the nature of the issue, though it usually involves various steps and checks designed to monitor the project as it progresses to spot paths that may make the problem more likely to happen. I find this approach effective as it combines knowledge and ongoing vigilance. That way, if the project begins to head into risky territory, I can correct its trajectory.”

## 17 More Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions

In the world of problem-solving questions, some apply to a wide range of jobs, while others are more niche. For example, customer service reps and IT helpdesk professionals both encounter challenges, but not usually the same kind.

As a result, some of the questions in this list may be more relevant to certain careers than others. However, they all give you insights into what this kind of question looks like, making them worth reviewing.

Here are 17 more problem-solving interview questions you might face off against during your job search:

- How would you describe your problem-solving skills?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to use creativity to deal with an obstacle?
- Describe a time when you discovered an unmet customer need while assisting a customer and found a way to meet it.
- If you were faced with an upset customer, how would you diffuse the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a complex issue.
- Imagine you were overseeing a project and needed a particular item. You have two choices of vendors: one that can deliver on time but would be over budget, and one that’s under budget but would deliver one week later than you need it. How do you figure out which approach to use?
- Your manager wants to upgrade a tool you regularly use for your job and wants your recommendation. How do you formulate one?
- A supplier has said that an item you need for a project isn’t going to be delivered as scheduled, something that would cause your project to fall behind schedule. What do you do to try and keep the timeline on target?
- Can you share an example of a moment where you encountered a unique problem you and your colleagues had never seen before? How did you figure out what to do?
- Imagine you were scheduled to give a presentation with a colleague, and your colleague called in sick right before it was set to begin. What would you do?
- If you are given two urgent tasks from different members of the leadership team, both with the same tight deadline, how do you choose which to tackle first?
- Tell me about a time you and a colleague didn’t see eye-to-eye. How did you decide what to do?
- Describe your troubleshooting process.
- Tell me about a time where there was a problem that you weren’t able to solve. What happened?
- In your opening, what skills or traits make a person an exceptional problem-solver?
- When you face a problem that requires action, do you usually jump in or take a moment to carefully assess the situation?
- When you encounter a new problem you’ve never seen before, what is the first step that you take?

## Putting It All Together

At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to approach problem-solving interview questions. Use the tips above to your advantage. That way, you can thrive during your next interview.

## FREE : Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet!

Download our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:

- What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
- What Is Your Greatest Strength?
- Tell Me About Yourself
- Why Should We Hire You?

## Click Here To Get The Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

## About The Author

Mike simpson.

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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## 75 Of The Hardest Questions To Answer

When was the last time someone’s question left you speechless or fumbling for words?

Difficult questions have a way of throwing you off balance.

The best way to prepare for them is to consider some of the hardest questions and answer them for yourself.

To that end, welcome to our collection of 75 hard questions to answer.

Start with one you’ve had trouble answering in the past.

The next time you hear it, you’ll have an answer ready.

## What Is The Hardest Question Ever?

Maybe that question itself is the hardest because there are so many difficult questions to answer.

Many people think the question, “What is truth?” is the hardest because the truth is often difficult to quantify. Science claims that truth is based on facts and reality, but many philosophers disagree and think the truth is subjective.

We think one of the toughest is, “Why do I exist?” You may have your own ideas or reasons, but finding a universal answer to this question is daunting.

## What’s The Hardest Question to Ask?

The most challenging question to ask is the one that may cause you or another person pain, disappointment, fear, or some other unpleasant emotion.

Think about these questions:

- Is this disease going to kill me?
- Is there really a Santa Claus?
- Do you love me?
- Where were you last night?

The truth may set you free, but it can be pretty painful when you first hear it.

## 65 of the Hardest Questions to Answer

To make the best use of these tough questions to answer, choose one each week (or each day, if you’re ambitious), and make it your goal to answer it thoughtfully and completely.

1. How do you define success, at least for yourself? Have you reached it?

2. Is there anything you know you should let go of, but you haven’t yet? Why?

3. If you knew this was your last day, would you do the same things you’re doing?

4. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? What steps have you taken to create it?

5. If the person who’s hurt you the most showed up at your door, what would you say to them?

6. If you don’t have what you want, what do you have to lose by going after it?

7. What does it mean to be good with money? Are you ?

8. Is there anything your job gives you besides money? Is there anything missing?

10. What responsibilities are you avoiding right now or which are you most tempted to avoid?

11. When it comes to your closest relationships , what do you struggle with the most?

12. What mistake do you keep making, and why do you keep making it? What has it cost you?

13. Name something you consider worse than dying. What makes it worse?

14. What’s something you wouldn’t want to die without doing? Why?

15. How would you define the word “American”? How do you define “unAmerican?”

16. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for, and why?

17. What fears are connected to your pursuit of success? How have you faced them?

19. How have your goals or priorities changed over the last decade?

20. What are your biggest regrets when you think over the past five years?

21. What realization has changed your life or your perspective over the past five years?

22. What is the biggest cause of stress for you right now? What worries you most?

23. Are you too hard on yourself or not hard enough?

24. What do you look forward to the most right now? Why?

25. What do you want to be remembered for when you die ?

26. What dream (or dreams) have you given up on? Why?

27. What dream (or dreams) have you held onto the longest?

28. Is there anyone you’re jealous of? If so, why?

29. How are you contributing to the world? Or how do you want to contribute?

30. What is your default behavior when someone turns on you? What has it cost you?

32. What about yourself do you still need to work on every day? How do you work on it?

33. What have you learned that you might not have learned if you hadn’t suffered?

34. What five words would you use to describe yourself ?

More Related Articles:

145 Mind-Blowing Questions To Bend Your Brain

105 About Me Questions For An About Me Tag Game

77 Of The Best Existential Questions To Blow Your Mind

99 Of The Best Hypothetical Questions Ever

35. What would you do if fear wasn’t an issue and you couldn’t fail?

36. What would you give to not feel the way you feel right now?

37. If you could go back and delete an email before sending it, would you?

38. If you could change one thing about your government, what would it be?

39. Have you ever regretted publishing something? If so, why?

40. Do you put political stickers on your car? Why or why not?

41. When was the last time you did something outside your comfort zone?

42. What are you risking right now by not stepping outside your comfort zone?

43. Are there any relationships you’d like to improve or repair? Are any beyond help?

44. Have you alienated people only to regret having done so?

45. Do you forgive easily when someone apologizes for hurting or offending you?

47. Has someone in your life died before you could reconcile with them (or they with you)?

48. Have you felt the need to pretend you don’t need help? If so, why?

49. When have you felt as though you could finally let someone take care of you?

50. Why do you think so many people grow up feeling the need to be “low maintenance”?

51. Have you felt this way yourself? And when have you gotten a break from it?

52. What are the most amazing things you’ve achieved this past three years?

53. What goal continues to elude you? What action are you taking to reach it?

54. What characteristics have you struggled to develop in yourself? (confidence? tenacity? straightforwardness? courage? generosity?)

55. In what areas of your life and work do you feel most vulnerable? Why?

56. Do you make a point of expressing your gratitude and appreciation for others?

58. Would it serve you well to trust people more than you do, or to be more careful of whom you trust?

59. Do you think people ask too much of you — or too little? Why do you think they do?

60. When was the last time you had a good laugh? What was it about?

61. What do you most often choose to ignore? Why do you ignore it?

62. If someone were to follow you around for a week, would your values and priorities be obvious to them? Would they match the ones you identify for yourself?

63. Have you ever abandoned a social media channel, not because of opposition to your views but because that opposition came from family?

64. Have you ever experienced the same unkind treatment you dished out to someone else in the past?

65. What is karma to you? Is it simply about justice, or do you see it as a deeply personal force that teaches us what we need to learn?

## 10 of the Hardest Questions About Life

Have you ever been asked a question that made you stop and think? Questions that make you ponder about your life, relationships, and values?

Here are ten questions that will make you reflect and re-evaluate your life choices.

66. What would you do if you only had one week or one month to live?

Knowing your time is limited can be a frightening thought, but it can also be a powerful motivator to make the most of each day. This question encourages you to reflect on what matters to you in life and how you want to spend your time before it runs out.

67. How can you make a lasting difference in the world?

Everyone wants to make a difference, but it can be hard to know how. Thinking about what matters most to you and how you can impact society, those around you, and even the world at large can help you identify ways to make a lasting difference.

68. How far are you willing to go to achieve your goals?

Have you ever considered what sacrifices you may have to make to achieve your goals? Answering this question will help you contemplate the price of success and reflect on what you’re willing (and not willing) to do to reach your dreams.

69. What has been the biggest lesson that life has taught you so far? And how have you applied it in your situation?

Life is full of lessons, from recognizing the power of love and friendship to appreciating the small moments. Learning how to apply these lessons to our own lives can help us become better individuals.

70. How will you know when it’s time to let go of something that isn’t working for you?

Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or a friendship, it can be hard to know when it’s time to cut the cord. Learning to recognize the signs of a situation that has become unhealthy or unproductive is key to knowing when it’s time to move on and make a change.

71. What is your biggest fear regarding your loved ones?

This question can help you identify and acknowledge your fears for the people dear to you so that you can better be prepared to face those fears in times of crisis.

Whether it’s fear of death, illness, or even the loss of a relationship, it’s essential to acknowledge and accept those fears so that you can be in a better place emotionally.

72. How would you handle conflict between two opposing views?

Conflict is inevitable, and arguments are a part of life. However, how we navigate them can make all the difference. Being able to come to a compromise that suits both parties and respects different points of view is an invaluable skill we should all have.

73. Are there any problems too big for you to tackle? If so, which problems are these, and why do you think they are too big for you?

No problem is too big to tackle, but some may require more resources than we have. Acknowledging our own limitations and enlisting help is often the best way to approach a difficult challenge.

74. What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?

We all have financial constraints, but what if money wasn’t an issue? This question can help you think more broadly and explore possibilities that would otherwise be unreachable.

It encourages you to dream bigger and consider different ways to achieve fulfillment.

75. What do you struggle with the most when seeking happiness?

Finding true and lasting happiness can be challenging, especially when our lives are filled with stress, sudden unwanted changes, and uncertainty.

Understanding what blocks us from being truly happy can help us develop strategies to better manage our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

## How to Use These Difficult Questions to Answer

While it’s essential to take the time to think through these difficult questions, it’s also important to know how and when to use them. Below are two tips to help you get the most out of your answers.

- Use them as a life guide: While being honest with yourself in answering these difficult questions is important, don’t forget to use them as a guide for making decisions and setting goals. Consider how the answers might help inform important choices or the plans you make throughout your life in the future.
- Use them as a conversation starting point: These questions can be great conversation starters for those close to you. Ask your friends, family, or partner the same questions and compare notes on the answers. It’s often enlightening to discuss complex topics with others and gain a different perspective that we may not have considered on our own.
- Use them as journaling prompts : If writing helps you better process your thoughts, use these questions as journal prompts. Choose questions that relate to a challenge or goal in your life, or follow the questions sequentially and answer one a day.

## How will you use these difficult questions?

Now that you’ve looked through 75 of the hardest questions to answer, which one have you chosen for today?

Maybe you already have an idea of your answer, but take a few minutes (at least) to write down whatever comes to mind.

Don’t critique your answer before you’ve fully expressed it.

None of us has it all figured out. Asking these hard questions and being honest with your answers takes courage and a determination to grow.

Good thing you have both.

## Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions and Answers

By Status.net Editorial Team on November 22, 2023 — 9 minutes to read

As you walk into a problem-solving interview, it’s normal to feel nervous about what to expect. These interviews are aimed at assessing how well you can analyze a problem, develop an approach, and arrive at a solution. Employers want to see how you think, break down complex situations into manageable parts, and use creativity to find answers. To help you navigate these interviews, let’s go over some common types of problem-solving questions and answers.

## “Can you describe a difficult problem you faced at work and how you solved it?”

When answering this question, choose a specific problem that you faced at work. Make sure to provide a clear description of the issue, the steps you took to address it, and the outcome. Demonstrating that you’re capable of breaking down problems and taking a logical, methodical approach to finding a solution is key.

Example: “At my previous job, our team was struggling with meeting sales targets. I conducted a thorough analysis of our sales data and identified trends in customer behavior. Based on the findings, I recommended a new marketing strategy, which led to a significant increase in sales.”

## “Share a time when you had to think creatively to overcome a challenge.”

This question is all about highlighting your ability to think outside the box. Choose an instance where you had to develop a creative solution to solve a problem and demonstrate how your innovative thinking helped achieve a positive outcome.

Example: “When I was working as a project manager, our team was facing budget constraints that threatened the project’s timeline. I came up with an idea to streamline processes and reduce expenses by utilizing free online collaboration tools, which ultimately saved resources and allowed the project to stay on track.”

## “How do you approach handling tight deadlines and multiple tasks?”

Employers want to know that you can handle pressure and prioritize your workload effectively. To answer this question, describe specific strategies you’ve used to juggle multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines, such as setting daily goals, using time management tools, or delegating tasks when appropriate.

Example: “When facing multiple tasks and tight deadlines, I start by making a detailed to-do list and assigning each task a priority level. I then tackle the most time-sensitive and essential tasks first and work my way down the list. If necessary, I’ll reach out to my colleagues for assistance or delegate some tasks to ensure everything gets completed on time.”

## “Tell me about a time when your team faced a conflict, and how did you help resolve it?”

This question is aimed at understanding your conflict resolution skills and ability to work well in a team. Describe a specific instance where your team faced a conflict and explain the steps you took to address the issue, making sure to highlight your communication and collaboration skills.

Example: “When I was leading a team project, two team members had a disagreement regarding the project’s direction. I organized a meeting where everyone could express their opinions and concerns. Together, we were able to come to a consensus and adjust the project plan accordingly, leading to a successful outcome.”

## “What steps do you take to identify and prioritize issues when problems arise?”

Showcase your problem-solving process by providing a clear description of the steps you take to identify and prioritize issues. Emphasize your ability to analyze situations, stay organized, and make well-informed decisions.

Example: “When problems arise, I first gather information to get a clear understanding of the situation. Next, I assess the severity and urgency of each issue and prioritize them based on their impact on the project or business objective. Once the priorities are established, I create an action plan to address the most pressing issues first and continue working down the list.”

## “Describe an instance where you used your analytical skills to find a solution.”

Employers value analytical thinking as it helps assess complex situations and make sound decisions. Choose a specific example where your analytical skills were put to the test and explain how your analysis led to a successful outcome.

Example: “While working as a financial analyst, I spotted discrepancies in a client’s financial reports. By conducting a thorough examination of the data and identifying irregularities in their expenses, I helped the client uncover a case of fraudulent activity. This led to the implementation of stricter internal controls, preventing future fraud occurrences.”

Related: How to Answer 9 Common Situational Interview Questions

How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions

## Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions

Fact-finding questions.

These questions focus on your ability to collect and analyze information, as well as make deductions based on your findings. Employers want to see that you can dig deep and uncover relevant points before arriving at a conclusion. A couple examples of fact-finding questions include:

- How would you investigate an issue with falling sales numbers?
- Can you walk me through how you would analyze the performance of a new product?

To answer fact-finding questions, pay attention to details, use concrete examples, and demonstrate a structured approach to the problem at hand.

## Logic and Reasoning Questions

Logic and reasoning questions assess your ability to think critically and objectively to identify the underlying cause of a problem. Employers want to see if you can apply logic to make informed decisions based on sound reasoning. Some examples of logic and reasoning questions include:

- If you were given a problem with two seemingly correct solutions, how would you determine the best course of action?
- How do you decide on the correct priority when faced with various tasks or issues?

When answering logic and reasoning questions, think out loud and reveal your thought process. Incorporate critical thinking techniques and showcase your ability to weigh the pros and cons of different solutions.

## Creative Thinking Questions

Creative thinking questions evaluate your ability to come up with original ideas or unconventional approaches to solving problems. Your potential employer wants to see if you can think outside the box and innovate when faced with new situations. Some examples of creative thinking questions may be:

- Describe a situation where you had to solve a problem using an unexpected approach. How did you develop this solution?
- Can you provide an example of when you collaborated on a project that required unique ideas to meet a deadline?

To answer creative thinking questions, highlight your ability to brainstorm and be resourceful. Show that you can adapt and find new solutions to unexpected challenges.

## Issue Resolution Questions

Issue resolution questions focus on your ability to resolve conflicts and reach a compromise while working with others. Employers want to ensure that you can effectively communicate, negotiate, and work with people in difficult situations. A few examples of issue resolution questions are:

- Describe a conflict that occurred within a team, and explain how you helped resolve it.
- How do you handle circumstances when two team members have differing opinions on a project?

In responding to issue resolution questions, emphasize your active listening skills, diplomacy, and ability to empathize with others’ perspectives. Show that you can find a resolution that benefits all parties involved, while maintaining a positive and productive working environment.

## Crafting Effective Responses

Understanding the problem.

To craft an effective response to a problem-solving interview question, first, make sure you understand the problem. Listen carefully and take notes if necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or additional information to ensure you have a complete understanding of the problem. This will show the interviewer that you are thorough and detail-oriented.

## Creating a Plan

Next, break down the problem into smaller, manageable steps. This will help you structure your response and demonstrate your ability to think logically. Outline the steps you would take to solve the problem and prioritize them according to importance or urgency.

For example:

- Identify the root cause : Determine the primary issue that needs to be addressed.
- Gather necessary information : Collect data and consult with relevant parties to get a complete understanding of the situation.
- Develop possible solutions : Brainstorm different approaches to tackle the problem and list the pros and cons of each solution.

## Implementing Solutions

Once you have a plan in place, be prepared to discuss how you would implement your chosen solution. This may include elements such as identifying resources and stakeholders, setting a timeline for completion, and assigning tasks to relevant team members. Use specific examples to illustrate your points, and be prepared to explain your rationale for each decision.

For instance, you might say, “I would first gather a team of experts in the field to analyze the data and come up with recommendations. We would create and assign tasks to the team members with deadlines to ensure timely progress. Regular check-ins and progress updates would be scheduled to keep everyone on track and address any issues that arise.”

## Reviewing Outcomes

After discussing how you would implement your solution, describe how you would evaluate its effectiveness. This might involve tracking and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), gathering feedback from stakeholders, or conducting post-implementation reviews to identify lessons learned.

Make your evaluation process concrete by providing examples like these:

- Measuring KPIs : “We would track metrics such as customer satisfaction and retention rates to determine the effectiveness of our solution.”
- Stakeholder feedback : “We would collect feedback from team members and stakeholders to better understand the impact of our solution on the larger organization.”
- Post-implementation reviews : “We would conduct periodic reviews to identify areas where we can improve and optimize our solution.”

## Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Too much detail.

Sometimes, you might go into too much detail when answering problem-solving interview questions. It’s important to strike a balance between being thorough and being concise. To avoid this mistake, practice summarizing your experience and the steps you took in solving problems. Use bullet points to help you stay organized and focused on the key points.

- Identify the key elements of the problem
- Outline your thought process and steps briefly
- Don’t get lost in unrelated details

## Not Enough Detail

On the other hand, not providing enough detail in your answers can leave the interviewer with a lack of understanding about your problem-solving skills. To avoid this, make sure you’re clear about the problem, the steps you took to address it, and the outcomes you achieved. Back up your answers with examples from your past experiences.

- Explain the problem and why it was significant
- Share specific steps you took to solve the problem
- Discuss the outcomes and any lessons learned

## Failing to Relate to Job Role

Another common mistake is failing to connect your answers to the job role you’re interviewing for. Always keep the job requirements and responsibilities in mind when talking about your problem-solving skills. Show how your experiences and approach to problem-solving will directly benefit their organization in the position you’re interviewing for.

- Understand the job requirements and responsibilities
- Relate your answers to the specific context of the job
- Explain how your problem-solving skills will directly benefit the organization

## Misunderstanding the Question

It can be easy to miss the point of a question or not understand what the interviewer is asking. Misunderstanding the question can lead to an irrelevant answer. To prevent this, take a moment to process the question and, if necessary, ask the interviewer to clarify. This shows that you’re attentive and genuinely interested in giving a thoughtful answer.

- Listen carefully to the question and take a moment to process it
- If needed, ask the interviewer for clarification
- Respond with a focused and relevant answer
- How to Answer 9 Common Situational Interview Questions
- Common Second Interview Questions: Example Answers
- Teaching Assistant Interview Questions (Smart Answers)
- Common Receptionist Interview Questions (and Answers)
- Management Styles Interview Questions [Example Answers]
- 26 Common Exit Interview Questions (with Answers)

## Interview Questions

Comprehensive Interview Guide: 60+ Professions Explored in Detail

## 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)

By Biron Clark

Published: November 15, 2023

Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.

But how do they measure this?

They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.

Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”

## Problem-Solving Defined

It is the ability to identify the problem, prioritize based on gravity and urgency, analyze the root cause, gather relevant information, develop and evaluate viable solutions, decide on the most effective and logical solution, and plan and execute implementation.

Problem-solving also involves critical thinking, communication , listening, creativity, research, data gathering, risk assessment, continuous learning, decision-making, and other soft and technical skills.

Solving problems not only prevent losses or damages but also boosts self-confidence and reputation when you successfully execute it. The spotlight shines on you when people see you handle issues with ease and savvy despite the challenges. Your ability and potential to be a future leader that can take on more significant roles and tackle bigger setbacks shine through. Problem-solving is a skill you can master by learning from others and acquiring wisdom from their and your own experiences.

It takes a village to come up with solutions, but a good problem solver can steer the team towards the best choice and implement it to achieve the desired result.

## Watch: 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving

Examples of problem solving scenarios in the workplace.

- Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
- Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
- Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
- Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
- Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
- Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
- Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
- Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
- Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
- Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
- Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
- Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
- Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
- Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
- Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
- Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
- Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
- Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area

## Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers

- Coordinating work between team members in a class project
- Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
- Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
- Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
- Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
- Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
- Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
- Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first

You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.

## Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”

Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.

## Example Answer 1:

At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.

## Example Answer 2:

In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.

## Example Answer 3:

In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.

## Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method

When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.

STAR stands for:

It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.

Finally, describe a positive result you got.

Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.

Example answer:

Situation : We had an irate client who was a social media influencer and had impossible delivery time demands we could not meet. She spoke negatively about us in her vlog and asked her followers to boycott our products. (Task : To develop an official statement to explain our company’s side, clarify the issue, and prevent it from getting out of hand). Action : I drafted a statement that balanced empathy, understanding, and utmost customer service with facts, logic, and fairness. It was direct, simple, succinct, and phrased to highlight our brand values while addressing the issue in a logical yet sensitive way. We also tapped our influencer partners to subtly and indirectly share their positive experiences with our brand so we could counter the negative content being shared online. Result : We got the results we worked for through proper communication and a positive and strategic campaign. The irate client agreed to have a dialogue with us. She apologized to us, and we reaffirmed our commitment to delivering quality service to all. We assured her that she can reach out to us anytime regarding her purchases and that we’d gladly accommodate her requests whenever possible. She also retracted her negative statements in her vlog and urged her followers to keep supporting our brand.

## What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?

Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.

Below are good outcomes of problem solving:

- Saving the company time or money
- Making the company money
- Pleasing/keeping a customer
- Obtaining new customers
- Solving a safety issue
- Solving a staffing/scheduling issue
- Solving a logistical issue
- Solving a company hiring issue
- Solving a technical/software issue
- Making a process more efficient and faster for the company
- Creating a new business process to make the company more profitable
- Improving the company’s brand/image/reputation
- Getting the company positive reviews from customers/clients

Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.

## Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills

Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems.

Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc.

Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.

You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.

If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.

Related interview questions & answers:

- How do you handle stress?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Tell me about a time when you failed

About the Author

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## 25 Fun Math Problems For Elementary And Middle School (From Easy To Very Hard!)

Fun math problems and brainteasers are loved by mathematicians; they provide an opportunity to apply mathematical knowledge, logic, and problem-solving skills all at once.

In this article, we’ve compiled 25 fun math problems and brainteasers covering various topics and question types. They’re aimed at students in upper elementary (3rd-5th grade) and middle school (6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade). We’ve categorized them as:

## Math word problems

Math puzzles, fraction problems, multiplication and division problems, geometry problems, problem-solving questions, math puzzles are everywhere, how should teachers use these math problems.

Teachers could make use of these math problem solving questions in a number of ways. They can:

- incorporate the questions into a relevant math lesson.
- set tasks at the beginning of lessons.
- break up or extend a math worksheet.
- keep students thinking mathematically after the main lesson has finished.

Some are based on real life or historical math problems, and some include ‘bonus’ math questions to help extend the problem-solving fun! As you read through these problems, think about how you could adjust them to be relevant to your students and their grade level or to practice different math skills.

These math problems can also be used as introductory puzzles for math games such as those introduced at the following links:

- Math games for grade 4
- Middle school math games

## 1. Home on time – easy

Type: elapsed time, number, addition.

A movie theater screening starts at 2:35 pm. The movie lasts for 2 hours, 32 minutes after 23 minutes of previews. It took 20 minutes to get to the movie theater. What time should you tell your family that you’ll be home?

Answer: 5:50 pm

## 2. A nugget of truth – mixed

Type: Multiplication Facts, Multiplication, Multiples, Factors, Problem-Solving

Chicken nuggets come in boxes of 6, 9 or 20, so you can’t order 7 chicken nuggets. How many other impossible quantities can you find (not including fractions or decimals)?

Answer: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, or 43

There is actually a theorem which can be used to prove that every integer quantity greater than 43 can be ordered.

## 3. A pet problem – mixed

Type: Number, Problem Solving, Forming and Solving Equations, Simultaneous Equations, Algebra

Eight of my pets aren’t dogs, five aren’t rabbits, and seven aren’t cats. How many pets do I have?

Answer: 10 pets (5 rabbits, 3 cats, 2 dogs)

## Looking for more word problems, solutions and explanations? Read our article on word problems for elementary school.

4. the price of things – mixed.

Type: lateral thinking problem

A mouse costs $10, a bee costs $15, and a spider costs $20. Based on this, how much does a duck cost? Answer: $5 ($2.50 per leg)

## 5. A dicey math challenge – easy

Type: Place value, number, addition, problem-solving

Roll three dice to generate three place value digits. What’s the biggest number you can make out of these digits? What’s the smallest number you can make?

Add these two numbers together. What do you get?

Answer: In most cases, 1,089.

Bonus: Who got a different result? Why?

## 6. PIN problem solving – mixed

Type: Logic, problem solving, reasoning

I’ve forgotten my PIN. Six incorrect attempts locks my account: I’ve used five! Two digits are displayed after each unsuccessful attempt: “2, 0” means 2 digits from that guess are in the PIN, but 0 are in the right place.

What should my sixth attempt be?

Answer: 6347

## 7. So many birds – mixed

Type: Triangular Numbers, Sequences, Number, Problem Solving

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave me one gift. On the second day they gave me another pair of gifts plus a copy of what they gave me on day one. On day 3, they gave me three new gifts, plus another copy of everything they’d already given me. If they keep this up, how many gifts will I have after twelve days?

Answer: 364

Bonus: This could be calculated as 1 + (1 + 2) + (1 + 2 + 3) + … but is there an easier way? What percentage of my gifts do I receive on each day?

## 8. I 8 sum math questions – mixed

Type: Number, Place Value, Addition, Problem Solving, Reasoning

Using only addition and the digit 8, can you make 1,000? You can put 8s together to make 88, for example.

Answer: 888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 1,000 Bonus: Which other digits allow you to get 1,000 in this way?

4 friends entered a math quiz. One answered \frac {1}{5} of the math questions, one answered \frac {1}{10} , one answered \frac{1}{4} , and the other answered \frac{4}{25} . What percentage of the questions did they answer altogether?

Answer: 71%

## 10. Ancient problem solving – easy

Type: Fractions, Reasoning, Problem Solving

Ancient Egyptians only used unit fractions (like \frac {1}{2} , \frac{1}{3} or \frac{1}{4} . For \frac {2}{3} they’d write \frac{1}{3} + \frac{1}{3} . How might they write \frac{5}{8} ?

Answer:

\frac {1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{8} is correct. So is \frac {1}{2} + \frac{1}{8} (They are both still unit fractions even though they have different denominators.)

Bonus: Which solution is better? Why? Can you find any more? What if subtractions are allowed?

## Learn more about unit fractions here .

11. everybody wants a pizza the action – hard.

An infinite number of mathematicians buy pizza. The first wants \frac{1}{2} . The second wants \frac{1}{4} pizza. The third & fourth want \frac{1}{8} and \frac{1}{16} each, and so on. How many pizzas should they order?

Answer: 1 Each successive mathematician wants a slice that is exactly half of what is left:

## 12. Shade it black – hard

Type: Fractions, Reasoning, Problem Solving What fraction of this image is shaded black?

Answer:

Look at the L-shaped part made up of two white and one black squares:

\frac{1}{3} of this part is shaded. Zoom in on the top-right quarter of the image, which looks exactly the same as the whole image, and use the same reasoning to find what fraction of its L-shaped portion is shaded. Imagine zooming in to do the same thing again and again…

## 13. Giving is receiving – easy

Type: Number, Reasoning, Problem Solving

5 people give each other a present. How many presents are given altogether?

## 14. Sharing is caring – mixed

I have 20 candies. If I share them equally with my friends, there are 2 left over. If one more person joins us, there are 6 candies left. How many friends am I with?

Answer: 6 people altogether (so 5 friends!)

## 15. Multiplication facts secrets – mixed

Type: Area, 2D Shape, Rectangles

Here are 77 letters:

BYHRCGNGNEOEAAHGHGCURPUTSTSASHHSBOBOREOPEEMEMEELATPEPEFADPHLTLTUT IEEOHOHLENRYTITIIAGBMTNTNFCGEIIGIG

How many different rectangular grids could you arrange all 77 letters into?

Answer: Four: 1 × 77, 77 × 1, 11 × 7 and 7 × 11. If the letters are arranged into one of these, a message appears, reading down each column starting from the top left.

Bonus: Can you find any more integers with the same number of factors as 77? What do you notice about these factors (think about prime numbers)? Can you use this system to hide your own messages?

## 16. Laugh it up – hard

Type: Multiples, Least Common Multiple, Multiplication Facts, Division, Time

One friend jumps every \frac{1}{3} of a minute. Another jumps every 31 seconds. When will they jump together? Answer: After 620 seconds

## 17. Pictures of matchstick triangles – easy

Type: 2D Shapes, Equilateral Triangles, Problem Solving, Reasoning

Look at the matchsticks arranged below. How many equilateral triangles are there?

Answer: 13 (9 small, 3 medium, 1 large)

Bonus: What if the biggest triangle only had two matchsticks on each side? What if it had four?

## 18. Dissecting squares – mixed

Type: Reasoning, Problem Solving

What’s the smallest number of straight lines you could draw on this grid such that each square has a line going through it?

## 19. Make it right – mixed

Type: Pythagorean theorem

This triangle does not agree with Pythagorean theorem.

Adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing each of the side lengths by the same whole number can fix it. What is the number?

Answer: 3

The new side lengths are 3, 4 and 5 and 32 + 42 = 52.

## 20. A most regular math question – hard

Type: Polygons, 2D Shapes, tessellation, reasoning, problem-solving, patterns

What is the regular polygon with the largest number of sides that will self-tessellate?

Answer: Hexagon.

Regular polygons tessellate if one interior angle is a factor of 360 ° . The interior angle of a hexagon is 120°. This is the largest factor less than 180°.

## 21. Pleased to meet you – easy

Type: Number Problem, Reasoning, Problem Solving

5 people meet; each shakes everyone else’s hand once. How many handshakes take place?

Person A shakes 4 people’s hands. Person B has already shaken Person A’s hand, so only needs to shake 3 more, and so on.

Bonus: How many handshakes would there be if you did this with your class?

## 22. All relative – easy

Type: Number, Reasoning, Problem-Solving

When I was twelve my brother was half my age. I’m 40 now, so how old is he?

## 23. It’s about time – mixed

Type: Time, Reasoning, Problem-Solving

When is “8 + 10 = 6” true?

Answer: When you’re telling the time (8am + 10 hours = 6pm)

## 24. More than a match – mixed

Type: Reasoning, Problem-Solving, Roman Numerals, Numerical Notation

Here are three matches:

How can you add two more matches, but get eight? Answer: Put the extra two matches in a V shape to make 8 in Roman Numerals:

## 25. Leonhard’s graph – hard

Type: Reasoning, Problem-Solving, Logic

Leonhard’s town has seven bridges as shown below. Can you find a route around the town that crosses every bridge exactly once?

Answer: No!

This is a classic real life historical math problem solved by mathematician Leonhard Euler (rhymes with “boiler”). The city was Konigsberg in Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Not being able to find a solution is different from proving that there aren’t any! Euler managed to do this in 1736, practically inventing graph theory in the process.

Many of these 25 math problems are rooted in real life, from everyday occurrences to historical events. Others are just questions that might arise if you say “what if…?”. The point is that although there are many lists of such problem-solving math questions that you can make use of, with a little bit of experience and inspiration you could create your own on almost any topic – and so could your students.

For a kick-starter on creating your own math problems, read our article on middle school math problem solving .

Do you have students who need extra support in math? Give your students more opportunities to consolidate learning and practice skills through personalized math tutoring with their own dedicated online math tutor. Each student receives differentiated instruction designed to close their individual learning gaps, and scaffolded learning ensures every student learns at the right pace. Lessons are aligned with your state’s standards and assessments, plus you’ll receive regular reports every step of the way. Personalized one-on-one math tutoring programs are available for: – 2nd grade – 3rd grade – 4th grade – 5th grade – 6th grade Why not learn more about how it works ?

The content in this article was originally written by primary school teacher Tom Briggs and has since been revised and adapted for US schools by math curriculum specialist and former elementary math teacher Katie Keeton.

## [FREE] 12 Math Club Games and Activities

A collection of games and activities to make math enjoyable for every elementary school math club.

Includes activities on multiplication skills, reasoning, organization & more, and requires minimal resources!

## Privacy Overview

Table of Contents

## Introduction

Mathematics can be fun if you treat it the right way. Maths is nothing less than a game, a game that polishes your intelligence and boosts your concentration. Compared to older times, people have a better and friendly approach to mathematics which makes it more appealing. The golden rule is to know that maths is a mindful activity rather than a task.

There is nothing like hard math problems or tricky maths questions, it’s just that you haven’t explored mathematics well enough to comprehend its easiness and relatability. Maths tricky questions and answers can be transformed into fun math problems if you look at it as if it is a brainstorming session. With the right attitude and friends and teachers, doing math can be most entertaining and delightful.

Math is interesting because a few equations and diagrams can communicate volumes of information. Treat math as a language, while moving to rigorous proof and using logical reason for performing a particular step in a proof or derivation.

Treating maths as a language totally eradicates the concept of hard math problems or tricky maths questions from your mind. Introducing children to fun maths questions can create a strong love and appreciation for maths at an early age. This way you are setting up the child’s successful future. Fun math problems will urge your child to choose to solve it over playing bingo or baking.

Apparently, there are innumerable methods to make easy maths tricky questions and answers. This includes the inception of the ideology that maths is simpler than their fear. This can be done by connecting maths with everyday life. Practising maths with the aid of dice, cards, puzzles and tables reassures that your child effectively approaches Maths.

If you wish to add some fun and excitement into educational activities, also check out

- Check out some mind-blowing Math Magic Tricks!
- Mental Maths: How to Improve it?

Cuemath is one of the world's leading math learning platforms that offers LIVE 1-to-1 online math classes for grades K-12 . Our mission is to transform the way children learn math, to help them excel in school and competitive exams. Our expert tutors conduct 2 or more live classes per week, at a pace that matches the child's learning needs.

## Fun Maths Questions with answers - PDF

Here is the Downloadable PDF that consists of Fun Math questions. Click the Download button to view them.

Here are some fun, tricky and hard to solve maths problems that will challenge your thinking ability.

Answer: is 3, because ‘six’ has three letters

What is the number of parking space covered by the car?

This tricky math problem went viral a few years back after it appeared on an entrance exam in Hong Kong… for six-year-olds. Supposedly the students had just 20 seconds to solve the problem!

Believe it or not, this “math” question actually requires no math whatsoever. If you flip the image upside down, you’ll see that what you’re dealing with is a simple number sequence.

Replace the question mark in the above problem with the appropriate number.

Which number is equivalent to 3^(4)÷3^(2)

This problem comes straight from a standardized test given in New York in 2014.

There are 49 dogs signed up for a dog show. There are 36 more small dogs than large dogs. How many small dogs have signed up to compete?

This question comes directly from a second grader's math homework.

To figure out how many small dogs are competing, you have to subtract 36 from 49 and then divide that answer, 13 by 2, to get 6.5 dogs, or the number of big dogs competing. But you’re not done yet! You then have to add 6.5 to 36 to get the number of small dogs competing, which is 42.5. Of course, it’s not actually possible for half a dog to compete in a dog show, but for the sake of this math problem let’s assume that it is.

Add 8.563 and 4.8292.

Adding two decimals together is easier than it looks. Don’t let the fact that 8.563 has fewer numbers than 4.8292 trip you up. All you have to do is add a 0 to the end of 8.563 and then add like you normally would.

I am an odd number. Take away one letter and I become even. What number am I?

Answer: Seven (take away the ‘s’ and it becomes ‘even’).

Using only an addition, how do you add eight 8’s and get the number 1000?

Answer:

888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 1000

Sally is 54 years old and her mother is 80, how many years ago was Sally’s mother times her age?

41 years ago, when Sally was 13 and her mother was 39.

Which 3 numbers have the same answer whether they’re added or multiplied together?

There is a basket containing 5 apples, how do you divide the apples among 5 children so that each child has 1 apple while 1 apple remains in the basket?

4 children get 1 apple each while the fifth child gets the basket with the remaining apple still in it.

There is a three-digit number. The second digit is four times as big as the third digit, while the first digit is three less than the second digit. What is the number?

Fill in the question mark

Two girls were born to the same mother, at the same time, on the same day, in the same month and the same year and yet somehow they’re not twins. Why not?

Because there was a third girl, which makes them triplets!

A ship anchored in a port has a ladder which hangs over the side. The length of the ladder is 200cm, the distance between each rung in 20cm and the bottom rung touches the water. The tide rises at a rate of 10cm an hour. When will the water reach the fifth rung?

The tide raises both the water and the boat so the water will never reach the fifth rung.

The day before yesterday I was 25. The next year I will be 28. This is true only one day in a year. What day is my Birthday?

You have a 3-litre bottle and a 5-litre bottle. How can you measure 4 litres of water by using 3L and 5L bottles?

Solution 1 :

First, fill 3Lt bottle and pour 3 litres into 5Lt bottle.

Again fill the 3Lt bottle. Now pour 2 litres into the 5Lt bottle until it becomes full.

Now empty 5Lt bottle.

Pour remaining 1 litre in 3Lt bottle into 5Lt bottle.

Now again fill 3Lt bottle and pour 3 litres into 5Lt bottle.

Now you have 4 litres in the 5Lt bottle. That’s it.

Solution 2 :

First, fill the 5Lt bottle and pour 3 litres into 3Lt bottle.

Empty 3Lt bottle.

Pour remaining 2 litres in 5Lt bottle into 3Lt bottle.

Again fill the 5Lt bottle and pour 1 litre into 3 Lt bottle until it becomes full.

3 Friends went to a shop and purchased 3 toys. Each person paid Rs.10 which is the cost of one toy. So, they paid Rs.30 i.e. total amount. The shop owner gave a discount of Rs.5 on the total purchase of 3 toys for Rs.30. Then, among Rs.5, Each person has taken Rs.1 and remaining Rs.2 given to the beggar beside the shop. Now, the effective amount paid by each person is Rs.9 and the amount given to the beggar is Rs.2. So, the total effective amount paid is 9*3 = 27 and the amount given to beggar is Rs.2, thus the total is Rs.29. Where has the other Rs.1 gone from the original Rs.30?

The logic is payments should be equal to receipts. We cannot add the amount paid by persons and the amount given to the beggar and compare it to Rs.30.The total amount paid is ₹27. So, from ₹27, the shop owner received 25 rupees and beggar received ₹ 2. Thus, payments are equal to receipts.

How to get a number 100 by using four sevens (7’s) and a one (1)?

Answer 1: 177 – 77 = 100 ;

Answer 2: (7+7) * (7 + (1/7)) = 100

Move any four matches to get 3 equilateral triangles only (don’t remove matches)

Find the area of the red triangle.

To solve this fun maths question, you need to understand how the area of a parallelogram works. If you already know how the area of a parallelogram and the area of a triangle are related, then adding 79 and 10 and subsequently subtracting 72 and 8 to get 9 should make sense.

How many feet are in a mile?

Solve - 15+ (-5x) =0

What is 1.92÷3

A man is climbing up a mountain which is inclined. He has to travel 100 km to reach the top of the mountain. Every day He climbs up 2 km forward in the day time. Exhausted, he then takes rest there at night time. At night, while he is asleep, he slips down 1 km backwards because the mountain is inclined. Then how many days does it take him to reach the mountain top?

If 72 x 96 = 6927, 58 x 87 = 7885, then 79 x 86 = ?

Answer:

Look at this series: 36, 34, 30, 28, 24, … What number should come next?

Look at this series: 22, 21, 23, 22, 24, 23, … What number should come next?

If 13 x 12 = 651 & 41 x 23 = 448, then, 24 x 22 =?

Look at this series: 53, 53, 40, 40, 27, 27, … What number should come next?

The ultimate goals of mathematics instruction are students understanding the material presented, applying the skills, and recalling the concepts in the future. There's little benefit in students recalling a formula or procedure to prepare for an assessment tomorrow only to forget the core concept by next week.

Teachers must focus on making sure that the students understand the material and not just memorize the procedures. After you learn the answers to a fun maths question, you begin to ask yourself how you could have missed something so easy. The truth is, most trick questions are designed to trick your mind, which is why the answers to fun maths questions are logical and easy.

## About Cuemath

Cuemath, a student-friendly mathematics and coding platform, conducts regular Online Classes for academics and skill-development, and their Mental Math App, on both iOS and Android , is a one-stop solution for kids to develop multiple skills. Understand the Cuemath Fee structure and sign up for a free trial.

## IMAGES

## VIDEO

## COMMENTS

1. Logic Puzzle: There are two ducks in front of a duck, two ducks behind a duck and a duck in the middle. How many ducks are there? Answer: Three. Two ducks are in front of the last duck; the...

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What are some difficult logical puzzles that will sharpen your mind? So, without further ado, here are some examples of difficult puzzles that will certainly hone your mental acuity. Trust us...

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To put these skills to the test, recruiters use "problem-solving" job interview questions, also known as analytical questions. Here are some common ones: Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

Common problem-solving questions and answers. Every job requires problem-solving on some level, so you can expect at least one job interview question to ask about those skills. Here are a few common problem-solving interview questions to practice: 1. Give us an example of when you faced an unexpected challenge at work.

6. Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD) One of the best approaches is to create a safe space for a group to share and discover practices and behaviors that can help them find their own solutions. With DAD, you can help a group choose which problems they wish to solve and which approaches they will take to do so.

Several mental processes are at work during problem-solving. Among them are: Perceptually recognizing the problem. Representing the problem in memory. Considering relevant information that applies to the problem. Identifying different aspects of the problem. Labeling and describing the problem.

Here are a few examples of technical problem-solving questions: 1. Mini-Max Sum This well-known challenge, which asks the interviewee to find the maximum and minimum sum among an array of given numbers, is based on a basic but important programming concept called sorting, as well as integer overflow.

October 29, 2021 HBR Staff/EschCollection/Getty Images Teams today aren't just asked to execute tasks: They're called upon to solve problems. You'd think that many brains working together would...

The word "process." In the end, problem-solving is an activity. It's your ability to take appropriate steps to find answers, determine how to proceed, or otherwise overcome the challenge. Being great at it usually means having a range of helpful problem-solving skills and traits.

1. When you are faced with a problem, what do you do? Tip: Employers typically ask this question to understand what your problem-solving process looks like. They are looking for you to describe a logical problem-solving process that includes gathering information, analyzing the information and making decisions based on what you've found.

Difficult questions have a way of throwing you off balance. The best way to prepare for them is to consider some of the hardest questions and answer them for yourself. To that end, ... No problem is too big to tackle, but some may require more resources than we have. Acknowledging our own limitations and enlisting help is often the best way to ...

How to Answer 11 Common Behavioral Interview Questions. Types of Problem-Solving Interview Questions Fact-Finding Questions. These questions focus on your ability to collect and analyze information, as well as make deductions based on your findings. Employers want to see that you can dig deep and uncover relevant points before arriving at a ...

1. Question: What is the number of the parking space covered by the car? This tricky math problem went viral a few years back after it appeared on an entrance exam in Hong Kong… for six-year-olds. Supposedly the students had just 20 seconds to solve the problem! Answer: 87.

Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues

Test your understanding of Problem solving concepts with Study.com's quick multiple choice quizzes. Missed a question here and there? All quizzes are paired with a solid lesson that can show you ...

Khan Academy's 100,000+ free practice questions give instant feedback, don't need to be graded, and don't require a printer. Math Worksheets. Khan Academy. Math worksheets take forever to hunt down across the internet. Khan Academy is your one-stop-shop for practice from arithmetic to calculus. Math worksheets can vary in quality from ...

Boost your coding interview skills and confidence by practicing real interview questions with LeetCode. Our platform offers a range of essential problems for practice, as well as the latest questions being asked by top-tier companies.

20. A most regular math question - hard. Type: Polygons, 2D Shapes, tessellation, reasoning, problem-solving, patterns. ... The point is that although there are many lists of such problem-solving math questions that you can make use of, with a little bit of experience and inspiration you could create your own on almost any topic - and so ...

📥 Fun Math Questions Download Here are some fun, tricky and hard to solve maths problems that will challenge your thinking ability.