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

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:

Puzzmo / 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 No. 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.

## Riddle No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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).

## Riddle No. 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 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.

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Test your logical thinking and problem-solving skills with these fun brain teasers and puzzles. These riddles for adults start on a light note with a dirty joke or fun riddle, and then gradually dives into the trickier puzzles. Towards the end, you’ll find the harder riddles, the ones that are more complicated and more difficult to solve…

## Funny Riddles

Here are some easy riddles , ones that are funny and that you most likely have heard before. Keep in mind that there will be some dirty riddles in here that might not be appropriate for a kid. But if you’re an adult–enjoy!

I am a rock group with four members. All dead, one was assassinated. What am I?

Mt. Rushmore.

What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?

It’s time to fix the fence.

What’s messy and can be really annoying and/or tricky to clean up after sex?

I saw a boat full of people, yet there wasn’t a single person on the boat. How is that possible?

They were all married.

Why is Europe like a frying pan?

Because it has Greece at the bottom.

I go in hard, come out soft, and you love to blow me. What am I?

Chewing gum.

What has ten letters and starts with gas?

Automobile.

I start with a “p” and ends with “o-r-n,” and I’m a major player in the film industry. What am I?

What goes up but never comes down?

A king, a queen, and two twins all lay in a large room. How are there no adults in the room?

They’re all beds!

Some people prefer being on top, others prefer being on the bottom, and it always involves a bed. What am I?

A bunk bed.

Why can’t we take a picture of a man with a wooden leg ?

The wooden leg is not a camera.

I assist with erections. Sometimes, giant balls hang from me. I’m known as a big swinger. What am I?

Samuel was out for a walk when it started to rain. He did not have an umbrella and he wasn’t wearing a hat. His clothes were soaked, yet not a single hair on his head got wet. How could this happen?

Because Samuel is bald!

All-day long it’s in and out. I discharge loads from my shaft. Both men and women go down on me. What am I?

An elevator.

What has four legs like a dog, two eyes like a dog, looks just like a dog but is not a dog?

A picture of a dog!

What tastes better than it smells?

What is as light as a feather, but even the strongest man in the world can’t hold it in for long?

His breath.

What does a teddy bear do when it rains?

It gets wet!

What’s long and hard and has cum in it?

A cucumber.

## Challenging Riddles

Here are some brain teasers that might require some problem-solving skills and logical thinking . They’re tricky, but not impossible to answer . It’s just some good riddles that will get you to really use your brain .

You walk into a room that contains a match, a kerosene lamp, a candle, and a fireplace. What would you light first?

The match.

How many letters are in the alphabet?

There are 11 letters in “the alphabet”.

A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms: the first is full of raging fires; the second, assassins with loaded guns, and the third, with lions who haven’t eaten in years. Which room is the safest?

What five- letter word stays the same when you take away the first, third, and last letter ?

All 5 sisters are busy. Ann is reading a book, Rose is cooking, Katy is playing chess, and Mary is doing the laundry. What is the 5th sister doing?

She’s playing chess, of course!

A man is asked what his daughters look like. He answers, “they are all blondes, but two, all brunettes, but two, and all redheads, but two.” How many daughters does he have?

Three. One is blonde, one is brunette, and one is a redhead.

David’s father has three sons: Snap, Crackle and…?

You always find me in the past, I can be created in the present, but the future can never taint me. What am I?

A man is found hanging dead from the ceiling of a room. The room’s dimensions are 15 x 15 x 15. The man is only 6ft tall and the rope was only 2ft long. There are no windows and only one door into the room. The door is bolted shut from the inside and there is a puddle of water under the man . How did he kill himself?

The man stood on a block of ice.

How can you drop a raw egg on the concrete floor without cracking it?

The egg won’t crack the concrete floor!

What has thirteen hearts but no other organs?

A deck of cards.

In a bus, there is a 26-year-old pregnant lady, a 30-year-old policeman, a 52-year-old random woman, and the driver who is 65 years old. Who is the youngest?

The baby of the pregnant lady.

Two in a corner, 1 in a room, 0 in a house, but 1 in a shelter. What am I?

The letter “R”

What English word does the following: the first two letters signify a male, the first three letters signify a female, the first four letters signify a great person , while the entire word signifies a great woman. What is the word ?

A boy and an engineer were fishing. The boy is the son of the engineer but the engineer is the father of the boy. Then who is the engineer?

The engineer is the boy’s mother.

In a one-story pink house, there was a pink person , a pink cat, a pink fish, a pink computer, a pink chair, a pink table, a pink telephone, a pink shower– everything was pink! What color were the stairs?

There weren’t any stairs, it was a one-story house!

A plane crashed between the border of Canada and America. Where do you bury the survivors?

They are survivors, you don’t bury them.

A woman is sitting in her hotel room when there is a knock at the door. She opened the door to see a man whom she had never seen before. He said, “Oh I’m sorry. I have made a mistake. I thought this was my room.” He then went down the corridor and in the elevator. The woman went back into her room and phoned security. What made the woman so suspicious of this man?

You don’t knock on your own hotel room door!

What is special about the number 854,917,632?

It’s the numbers from 1-9 in alphabetical order.

What word in the English language has three consecutive double letters ?

Bookkeeper.

My first is in chocolate but not in ham, my second’s in cake and also in jam, my third at tea-time is easily found, my whole is a friend who’s often around. What am I?

Two fathers and two sons are in a car, yet there are only three people in the car. How?

They are a grandfather, father, and son.

A woman shoots her husband, then holds him underwater for five minutes. Next, she hangs him. Right after, they enjoy a lovely dinner. Explain.

She took a picture of him and developed it in her darkroom.

A man is trapped in a room. The room has only two possible exits: two doors. Through the first door, there is a room constructed from magnifying glasses. The blazing hot sun instantly fries anything or anyone that enters. Through the second door, there is a fire-breathing dragon. How does the man escape?

He waits until night time and then goes through the first door.

Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?

A is the brother of B. B is the brother of C. C is the father of D. So how is D related to A?

A is D’s aunt.

A man was found murdered on Sunday morning. His wife immediately called the police. The police went to the crime scene and question the wife and staff and got these alibis: The wife said she was sleeping, the cook was eating breakfast, the gardener was picking vegetables, the maid was getting the mail, the butler was cleaning the closet. The police instantly arrested the murderer. Who did it and how did they know?

It was the Maid. She said she was getting the mail but there’s no mail on Sundays.

## Difficult Riddles

All of the puzzles below are considered to be logic riddles , ones that you’ll really need to think about to get the answer .

Tim and Mel are long-distance lovers. Tim has just purchased an engagement ring for Mel and wants to mail it to her. Unfortunately, the only way to ensure the ring will be received is to place a lock on the package. Tim has locks and Mel has locks but neither have keys for each others’ locks. How can they ensure the ring isn’t stolen?

Tim places a lock on the package and sends it to Mel. Mel places one of her locks on the package and sends it back to Tim. Tim removes his lock and sends the package back to Mel.

I am a word of 5 letters and people eat me. If you remove the first letter, I become a form of energy. Remove the first two and I’m needed to live. Scramble the last 3 and you can drink me. What am I?

Wheat, heat, eat, tea

Which English word is the odd one out – Stun, Ton, Evil, Letter , Mood, Bad, Snap, Straw?

The person who makes it has no need of it; the person who buys it has no use for it. The person who uses it can neither see nor feel it. What is it?

The answer I give is yes, but what I mean is no. What was the question?

“Do you mind ?”

My buddies and I were inseparable mates Til one by one were we split My teacher, she gave me a smack on the pate And off in the corner I sit. Admittedly still I’m not hitting the books Though now I’m hugging a tree I guess in the end it’s not bad as it looks I went from a C to a B…

(Clue: it’s an object)

What can go up a chimney down, but can’t go down a chimney up?

An umbrella.

What can you hold in your right hand, but never in your left hand?

A man is found murdered in his office. The suspects are Peter, Julie, Jason, Molly, and Brian. In the office is a calendar with the numbers 6,4,9,10,11 written in blood. Who is the killer?

Jason is the killer. The numbers indicate months and the first letter of each month spells the name of the murderer, e.g. the 6th month is June and the first letter of June is J, the 4th month is April and the first letter of April is a, and so on.

There are 3 switches outside of a room, all in the ‘off’ setting. One of them controls a lightbulb inside the room, the other two do nothing. You cannot see into the room, and once you open the door to the room, you cannot flip any of the switches anymore. Before going into the room, how would you flip the switches in order to be able to tell which switch controls the light bulb?

Flip the first switch and keep it flipped for five minutes. Then unflip it, and flip the second switch. Go into the room. If the lightbulb is off but warm, the first switch controls it. If the light is on, the second switch controls it. If the light is off and cool, the third switch controls it.

You walk into a creepy house by yourself. There is no electricity, plumbing or ventilation. Inside you notice 3 doors with numbers on them. Once you open the doors you will die a particular way. Door #1 You’ll be eaten by a lion who is hungry. Door #2 You’ll be stabbed to death. Door #3 There is an electric chair waiting for you. Which door do you pick?

Door #3, Since There Is No Electricity To Harm You.

With pointed fangs I sit and wait, with piercing force I serve out fate. Grabbing bloodless victims, proclaiming my might; physically joining with a single bite. What am I?

## Short Riddles: Math Edition

Everyone loves a good ol math riddle!   Math riddles are a great way to test your smarts and make sure that you actually did learn something in school:

I have two coins equaling fifteen cents. One of them is not a nickel. What are the two coins?

A dime and a nickel. One of the coins is not a nickel, but the other one is.

Mom and dad have four daughters, and each daughter has one brother . How many people are in the family?

If 9999=4, 8888=8, 1816=6, 1212=0, then 1919=? (Clue: Closed areas.)

2. 9999 has 4 closed areas (the top of the ‘9’).8888 has 8 closed areas (the top and bottom parts of 8 and there are no other digits). 1816 has 3 closed areas (top and bottom of 8 and bottom of 6, and it has 2 other digits (3 * 2 = 6)). 1212 has 0 closed areas, (0 * 4 = 0).

If you multiply me by any other number, the answer will always remain the same. What number am I?

Which is correct: 18 plus 19 is 36. Or 18 plus 19 are 36?

Actually, both are incorrect – 18 plus 19 is 37!

When does 11+3=2?

On a clock.

There was a large truck that needed to cross a 20-mile long bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge could only hold the weight of 12000 lbs. Even a single pound extra, the bridge would collapse. However, the weight of the truck is exactly 12000 lbs. The driver carefully drove and crossed almost 85% distance of the bridge. He stopped to get a small break. Suddenly, a bird landed on the truck. Did the bridge collapse?

No, the bridge doesn’t collapse. The truck almost crossed 85% of total distance. Equivalent diesel would have been lost. So the extra weight of the bridge doesn’t add any extra load to the bridge.

3 hens lay 3 eggs in 3 days. How many eggs do 12 hens give in 12 days?

48 eggs. One hen lays 1 egg in 3 days or 4 eggs in 12 days. 12 hens give 48 eggs in 12 days.

Here are some fun yet complicated riddles for adults wanting to challenge themselves and really use the depths of their brains to figure out the answer (s).

## Hard Mythology Riddle

There is a mythological story of a Sphinx, a monster with the body of a lion and the head of a woman. Apparently, the Sphinx sat on top of a rock along the road to the city of Thebes, stopping travelers and proposing to them a riddle . The Sphinx claimed that whoever failed the riddle would be killed, and evidently, not pass through to the city. This is the riddle :

What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two legs during the day, and three legs in the evening?

Oedipus, the king of Thebes, figured out the answer to this logic puzzle :

Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age with the aid of a staff. (Morning, day, and night are representative of the stages of life.)

## Buried Treasure Riddle

The best way to find the right answer to this brainteaser is through logic and deductive reasoning.

After a storm tears through the Hex Archipelago, you find five grizzled survivors in the water. Shivering their timbers, they explain that they’re the former crew of the great pirate Greenbeard, who marooned them after they tried to mutiny. Each was bound up in a different spot on a small island, until the storm washed them out to sea. In gratitude for saving them, they reveal a secret: the island they were on is also where Greenbeard has buried his treasure hoard. But when the sailors try to describe the island, something seems off. All agree it was flat and barren with no prominent features except for some trees. Yet each pirate claims they saw a different number of trees, ranging from two to six. The pirate who saw two trees says the treasure was buried right at his feet. When you fly your hot air balloon over the area to investigate, you see hundreds of small islands, each with exactly six trees. The next storm will be here soon, so you’ll have to hurry and narrow your search. What does the island with Greenbeard’s treasure look like from the sky? And where will the treasure be on that island?

• All islands have exactly 6 trees of equal height.
• The islands are all flat, have no obstructions other than trees and their precise shapes aren’t important.
• Each pirate was confined in a specific spot and saw a different number of trees, ranging from 2 to 6. They could look all around but not move.
• The treasure was buried at the feet of the pirate who saw 2 trees.

No, the pirates aren’t delirious from dehydration. Remember, each was confined to a separate point on the island, and no two of them could see the same number of trees. That means that for all but one pirate, something was blocking their view. And since there are no other features on the island, that something could only have been other trees.

A pirate would see fewer trees when two or more fell along a straight line from their vantage point. So we need to find the island where five different pirates standing in different spots would each see a different number of trees. Virtually every island has a position from which you can see six trees. And on most islands there’s a position where 5 trees can be seen by standing in line with two of them. It turns out that the hardest locations to find are those with fewer visible trees precisely because they require more trees to line up with the viewer’s position. So how can we see just two trees. One way would be if all the trees were lined up in single file, such as on this island. Then, you could stand at the end of the line and see one, stand in the middle and see two, or stand anywhere else and see all six. But there’s no place from which you can see only three, four, or five, so one straight line of trees is out. So what about two lines of trees? So long as the lines aren’t parallel and they intersect over land, there’ll always be a position where the two lines converge from which you could see exactly two trees. And if they’re grouped two and four, or three and three, there are many arrangements in which you could also see three, four, five, and six trees.

Fortunately for us, there’s only one island in the archipelago with two non-parallel lines of trees, and it’ll be buried at the intersection of the two lines. (X marks the spot!) You land on this island and dig up a chest containing a massive pile of tree seeds.

## Prisoner Hat Riddle

Here’s a great mind -boggling riddle :

100 prisoners are lined up single file. A blue or red hat is placed on each of their heads randomly. The prisoners cannot see the color of the hat on their own head, but they can see the colors of all the hats in front of them. The prisoner in the back can clearly see all 99 hats in front of him. The 50th prisoner in line can see the 49 hats in front of him, and the prisoner in the front of the line cannot see anything but the forest before him. Also, the prisoners don’t know the proportion of red hats to blue hats in advance—it could be 50/50, but it could also be any combination that adds to 100.

A guard is going to walk down the line, starting in the back, and ask each prisoner what color hat they have on. They can only answer “blue” or “red.” If they answer incorrectly or say anything else, they will be shot dead on the spot. If they answer correctly, they will be set free. Each prisoner can hear all of the other prisoners’ responses, as well as any gunshots that indicate an incorrect response. They can remember all of this information.

Before the executions begin, the prisoners get to huddle up and make a plan. How can the prisoners ensure that most people possible survive?

The prisoners come up with the following plan:

If the first prisoner to speak—the one in the back of the line—sees an even number of blue hats, he will yell out “blue.” If he sees an odd number of blue hats, he will yell out “red.”

Let’s assume the first prisoner to speak yells out “blue,” indicating that he sees an even number of blue hats. Then the next prisoner to speak can look at the line in front of him, and if he sees an odd number of blue hats, he knows his hat must be blue to make the number even. Similarly, if he sees an even number of blue hats, he knows his hat must be red to keep it that way. The same logic works if the first prisoner yells out “red,” indicating that there are an odd number of blue hats.

The next prisoner in line listens to the prisoner behind him and takes that information into consideration. If he sees an even number of blue hats and the prisoner behind him yells “blue,” making the total number of blue hats odd, then he knows his hat must be blue to make the total number even again (of the 99 seen by the first prisoner). In the same situation, if his hat were red, the total number of blue hats would be odd (of the 99 seen by the first prisoner).

As you go down the line, each prisoner must count how many blue hats are behind them. Then he must consider the blue hats in front of him. If the number of blue hats behind a prisoner plus the blue hats he can see in front of him equals an odd number, then he knows his hat must be blue to make the total number even, or red to make the total number odd (not counting the very first prisoner).

The very first prisoner is the maybe-martyr of the group. He is imparting information to the rest of the group that has nothing to do with the hat on his own head, which he cannot know, and so his chances of living are only 50%.

## More Riddles

• Short Riddles
• Riddles for Teens
• Riddles for Kids
• Funny Riddles
• Tricky Riddles
• Hard Riddles
• Easy Riddles
• Math Riddles

## January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.

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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.

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!

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!

Your list of techniques for problem solving can be helpfully extended by adding TRIZ to the list of techniques. TRIZ has 40 problem solving techniques derived from methods inventros and patent holders used to get new patents. About 10-12 are general approaches. many organization sponsor classes in TRIZ that are used to solve business problems or general organiztational problems. You can take a look at TRIZ and dwonload a free internet booklet to see if you feel it shound be included per your selection process.

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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
• Improvement

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

National Alliance on Mental Illness. Warning signs and symptoms .

Mayer RE. Thinking, problem solving, cognition, 2nd ed .

Schooler JW, Ohlsson S, Brooks K. Thoughts beyond words: When language overshadows insight. J Experiment Psychol: General . 1993;122:166-183. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.2.166

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

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:

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.

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## 9 tricky logic puzzles to test your problem solving skills

Make your brain earn its keep with these hard puzzles..

1 ,  2

Would you like to exercise your brain today? Then, here are 9 tricky puzzles to give your grey-matter a good workout .

We have provided the solutions as links at the end of each puzzle below, in case you want to have a go before checking your answers. Enjoy, and good luck!

## 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 when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

## 1. The riddle of the farmer

IntangibleArts/Flickr

This first puzzle is a bit of a classic. Just suppose you had a farmer who needs to transport a fox, a chicken, and some corn across a river.

He only has a small boat that can only carry him and one of them with him per crossing. The farmer needs to get all three items across the river in one piece.

But there is a problem. He can’t leave the fox and chicken alone as the fox will eat the chicken. Likewise, he can’t leave the chicken with the corn as the chicken will munch down on the corn.

So, can you figure out how the farmer could solve this problem?

Here is the solution if you want to test your workings.

## 2. The rope bridge at night problem

Frerk Meyer/Flickr

This next puzzle is another head-scratcher. Suppose there are four people trying to cross a rather dodgy rope bridge in the middle of the night.

Only two of them can cross it at a time and they only have a single flashlight between them. For this reason, one person of each pair must return to help the others get across.

But time is limited; they are being chased and need to get across within 17 minutes total. Sounds simple enough, except each person can only cross the bridge at a certain rate.

One person takes 1 minute to cross the bridge. The second takes 2 minutes , the third 5 , and the last person 10 minutes .

Each pair can only cross as fast as the slowest member of the pair. How can they all cross the bridge in time?

Here is the solution if you want to see if you were right.

## 3. The burning rope timer problem

WildInWoods/Flickr

Let’s suppose you needed to measure a time of exactly 45 minutes but only had a couple of old ropes coated in oil and a lighter. You know that each rope takes exactly 1 hour to burn all the way through.

But the ropes do not burn at a uniform rate with spots that will burn a little faster than others. Whatever the case, and location of these slow and fast burn spots, the entire rope still burns up in exactly an hour.

You can burn the ropes at either end or at multiple points at the same time. How would you measure exactly three-quarters of an hour?

Here is the solution .

## 4. The heads or tails coin problem

William Warby/Flickr

Just suppose you are sitting at a table strewn with hundreds or thousands of coins . You are blindfolded, so you cannot see the coins, and you don’t know how many there are.

You are told that 20 of the coins are tails-side up while the rest are heads up. You can move the coins and flip them over as much as you want but you will never be able to see what you doing.

While you can feel the coins, you are unable to determine which side is which.

How then, would you separate the coins into two piles that have the same number of tails-side-up coins? Remember the number of coins per pile does not need to be the same.

Here is the solution , if you are curious.

## 5. The classic water jug problem

Dwight Sipler/Flickr

Here is another classic puzzle that will sharpen your mind. Let’s suppose you need to measure out exactly 4 liters of water.

But, of course, you have a problem. You have two containers each 3 and 5 liters in volume respectively.

Each container has no other marking except for the fact that it only provides its known volume. Using a running tap to fill them how would you measure out exactly 4 liters ?

Here is the solution , if you want to check your answer.

## 6. The riddle of the Gods

Touted as one of the hardest puzzles to solve ever , this one is certainly a fun challenge. Let’s suppose we have three gods called, in no particular order, “True”, “False” and “Random”.

We don’t know which is which, so, for now, we will label them A, B, and C respectively.

“True” always tells the truth. “False” always lies, and “Random” lies or tells the truth at random.

You are tasked with identifying which one is which by asking three yes-no questions. Also, you can only ask one god one question at any one time.

But it’s a little more complex than that. Each god understands English but will only answer in their own language as “da” or “ja” — but you can’t understand if the answers are in the affirmative or not.

How would you solve this? Here is the solution .

## 7. Escape from the field

halfshutter/Flickr

Let’s suppose you have been placed in a circular field of unknown radius R. The field has a low fence around it.

Attached to the wire fence is a large, angry, sharp-fanged and hungry dog who loves nothing more than eating human flesh. You can run at a speed v, while the dog can run exactly 4-times as fast as you.

The dog, as it is attached to the fence can only travel around the perimeter. How would you escape from the field in one piece?

## 8. The apples and oranges puzzle

WriterGal39/Flickr

Here is another annoying problem that needs solving . Let’s suppose you work in a fruit factory that boxes apples and oranges.

One day, the labeling machine goes haywire and incorrectly labels the crates of fruit. Your coworker decides to have a bit of fun and pulls out three crates of fruit and tells you that one has just oranges in it, the second just apples, and the third a mixture of the two.

One of the crates is labeled “O” for oranges, another “A” for apples, and the third “A+O” for apples and oranges. But the labels lie.

You can pick one crate and your coworker will pull a single fruit from it to show you. You are only able to do this once.

How can you figure out which crate actually has only oranges, only apples, and a mixture of the two? Here is the solution .

## RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

9. the mystery hat puzzle.

Neil Moralee/Flickr

And finally, let’s suppose you have a dark closet with five hats in it. There are three blue, and two red ones.

Three men go into the closet and each selects a hat at random in the dark and places it on their head. Once outside the closet, each man is unable to tell what color their own hat is.

The first man looks at the others and says “I cannot tell what color my hat is!”. The second hears this, looks at the other two, and declares “I cannot tell what color my hat is either!”.

The third man, who is blind, confidently declares “I know exactly what color mine is!”.

What color is his hat? Here is the solution .

## The Blueprint Daily

Stay up-to-date on engineering, tech, space, and science news with The Blueprint.

Christopher McFadden Christopher graduated from Cardiff University in 2004 with a Masters Degree in Geology. Since then, he has worked exclusively within the Built Environment, Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Consultancy industries. He is a qualified and accredited Energy Consultant, Green Deal Assessor and Practitioner member of IEMA. Chris&rsquo;s main interests range from Science and Engineering, Military and Ancient History to Politics and Philosophy.

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## 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 .

## 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.

“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?
• 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?
• Why Should We Hire You?

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.

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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Based on the Normal model N(100, 16) describing IQ scores, what percent of peoples

The probability density function of the net weight in pounds of a packaged chemical herbicide...

Let X represent the difference between the number of heads and the number of tails...

An urn contains 3 red and 7 black balls. Players A and B withdraw balls...

80% A poll is given, showing are in favor of a new building project. 8...

The probability that the San Jose Sharks will win any given game is 0.3694 based...

Find the value of P(X=7) if X is a binomial random variable with n=8 and...

Find the value of P(X=8) if X is a binomial random variable with n=12 and...

On a 8 question multiple-choice test, where each question has 2 answers, what would be...

If you toss a fair coin 11 times, what is the probability of getting all...

A coffee connoisseur claims that he can distinguish between a cup of instant coffee and...

Two firms V and W consider bidding on a road-building job, which may or may...

Two cards are drawn without replacement from an ordinary deck, find the probability that the...

In August 2012, tropical storm Isaac formed in the Caribbean and was headed for the...

A local bank reviewed its credit card policy with the intention of recalling some of...

The accompanying table gives information on the type of coffee selected by someone purchasing a...

A batch of 500 containers for frozen orange juice contains 5 that are defective. Two...

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A card is drawn randomly from a standard 52-card deck. Find the probability of the...

The next number in the series 38, 36, 30, 28, 22 is ?

What is the coefficient of x8y9 in the expansion of (3x+2y)17?

A boat on the ocean is 4 mi from the nearest point on a straight...

How many different ways can you make change for a quarter? (Different arrangements of the...

Seven balls are randomly withdrawn from an urn that contains 12 red, 16 blue, and...

Approximately 80,000 marriages took place in the state of New York last year. Estimate the...

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It is conjectured that an impurity exists in 30% of all drinking wells in a...

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According to a renowned expert, heavy smokers make up 70% of lung cancer patients. If...

Two cards are drawn successively and without replacement from an ordinary deck of playing cards...

Suppose that vehicles taking a particular freeway exit can turn right (R), turn left (L),...

A bag contains 6 red, 4 blue and 8 green marbles. How many marbles of...

A normal distribution has a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 4. Please...

Seven women and nine men are on the faculty in the mathematics department at a...

An automatic machine in a manufacturing process is operating properly if the lengths of an...

Three cards are drawn without replacement from the 12 face cards (jacks, queens, and kings)...

Among 157 African-American men, the mean systolic blood pressure was 146 mm Hg with a...

A TIRE MANUFACTURER WANTS TO DETERMINE THE INNER DIAMETER OF A CERTAIN GRADE OF TIRE....

Differentiate the three measures of central tendency: ungrouped data.

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A wallet containing four P100 bills, two P200 bills, three P500 bills, and one P1,000...

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Sixty-five randomly selected car salespersons were asked the number of cars they generally sell in...

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Annual sales, in millions of dollars, for 21 pharmaceutical companies follow. 8408 1374 1872 8879...

The velocity function (in meters per second) is given for a particle moving along a...

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What is the area of the parallelogram with vertices A(-3, 0), B(-1, 5), C(7, 4),...

The integral represents the volume of a solid. Describe the solid. π∫01(y4−y8)dy a) The integral...

Two components of a minicomputer have the following joint pdf for their useful lifetimes X...

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Calculate net price factor and net price. Dollars list price −435.20\$ Trade discount rate −26%,15%,5%.

Represent the line segment from P to Q by a vector-valued function and by a...

(x2+2xy−4y2)dx−(x2−8xy−4y2)dy=0

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Integration of (y⋅tan⁡xy)

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What is the area of the parallelogram whose vertices are listed? (0,0), (5,2), (6,4), (11,6)

Using T defined by T(x)=Ax, find a vector x whose image under T is b,...

Use the definition of Ax to write the matrix equation as a vector equation, or...

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List five vectors in Span {v1,v2}. For each vector, show the weights on v1 and...

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(a) find the transition matrix from B toB′,(b) find the transition matrix fromB′to B,(c) verify...

A box contains 5 red and 5 blue marbles. Two marbles are withdrawn randomly. If...

Given the following vector X, find anon zero square marix A such that AX=0; You...

Construct a matrix whose column space contains (1, 1, 5) and (0, 3.1) and whose...

At what point on the paraboloid y=x2+z2 is the tangent plane parallel to the plane...

Label the following statements as being true or false. (a) If V is a vector...

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Write an equation of the line that passes through (3, 1) and (0, 10)

There are 100 two-bedroom apartments in the apartment building Lynbrook West.. The montly profit (in...

State and prove the linearity property of the Laplace transform by using the definition of...

The analysis of shafts for a compressor is summarized by conformance to specifications. Suppose that...

The Munchies Cereal Company combines a number of components to create a cereal. Oats and...

Movement of a Pendulum A pendulum swings through an angle of 20∘ each second. If...

If sin⁡x+sin⁡y=aandcos⁡x+cos⁡y=b then find tan⁡(x−y2)

Find the values of x such that the angle between the vectors (2, 1, -1),...

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Suppose that you are headed toward a plateau 50 meters high. If the angle of...

Airline passengers arrive randomly and independently at the passenger-screening facility at a major international airport....

Find an equation of the plane. The plane through the points (2, 1, 2), (3,...

Match each of the trigonometric expressions below with the equivalent non-trigonometric function from the following...

two small spheres spaced 20.0cm apart have equal charges. How many extra electrons must be...

The base of a pyramid covers an area of 13.0 acres (1 acre =43,560 ft2)...

Find out these functions' domain and range. To find the domain in each scenario, identify...

Your bank account pays an interest rate of 8 percent. You are considering buying a...

Whether f is a function from Z to R ifa)f(n)=±n.b)f(n)=n2+1.c)f(n)=1n2−4.

The probability density function of X, the lifetime of a certain type of electronic device...

A sandbag is released by a balloon that is rising vertically at a speed of...

A proton is located in a uniform electric field of2.75×103NCFind:a) the magnitude of the electric...

A rectangular plot of farmland are finite on one facet by a watercourse and on...

A solenoid is designed to produce a magnetic field of 0.0270 T at its center....

I want to find the volume of the solid enclosed by the paraboloidz=2+x2+(y−2)2and the planesz=1,x=−1y=0,andy=4

Let W be the subspace spanned by the u’s, and write y as the sum...

Can u find the point on the planex+2y+3z=13that is closest to the point (1,1,1). You...

A spring of negligible mass stretches 3.00 cm from its relaxed length when a force...

A force of 250 Newtons is applied to a hydraulic jack piston that is 0.01...

Three identical blocks connected by ideal strings are being pulled along a horizontal frictionless surface...

A credit card contains 16 digits between 0 and 9. However, only 100 million numbers...

Every real number is also a complex number? True of false?

Let F be a fixed 3x2 matrix, and let H be the set of all...

Find a vector a with representation given by the directed line segment AB. Draw AB...

Find A such that the given set is Col A. {[2s+3tr+s−2t4r+s3r−s−t]:r,s,t real}

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For the matrices (a) find k such that Nul A is a subspace of Rk,...

How many subsets with an odd number of elements does a set with 10 elements...

In how many ways can a set of five letters be selected from the English...

Suppose that f(x) = x/8 for 3 &lt; x &lt; 5. Determine the following probabilities:...

Describe all solutions of Ax=0 in parametric vector form, where A is row equivalent to...

Find two vectors parallel to v of the given length. v=PQ→ with P(1,7,1) and Q(0,2,5);...

A dog in an open field runs 12.0 m east and then 28.0 m in...

Can two events with nonzero probabilities be both independent and mutually exclusive? Explain your reasoning.

Use the Intermediate Value Theorem to show that there is a root of the given...

In a fuel economy study, each of 3 race cars is tested using 5 different...

A company has 34 salespeople. A board member at the company asks for a list...

A dresser drawer contains one pair of socks with each of the following colors: blue,...

A restaurant offers a \$12 dinner special with seven appetizer options, 12 choices for an...

A professor writes 40 discrete mathematics true/false questions. Of the statements in these questions, 17...

Suppose E(X)=5 and E[X(X–1)]=27.5, find ∈(x2) and the variance.

A Major League baseball diamond has four bases forming a square whose sides measure 90...

Express f(x)=4x3+6x2+7x+2 in term of Legendre Polynomials.

Find a basis for the space of 2×2 diagonal matrices. Basis ={[],[]}

Which of the following expressions are meaningful? Which are meaningless? Explain. a) (a⋅b)⋅c (a⋅b)⋅c has...

Vectors V1 and V2 are different vectors with lengths V1 and V2 respectively. Find the...

Find an equation for the plane containing the two (parallel) lines v1=(0,1,−2)+t(2,3,−1) and v2=(2,−1,0)+t(2,3,−1).

Find, correct to the nearest degree, the three angles of the triangle with the given...

Find the vector, not with determinants, but by using properties of cross products. (i+j)×(i−j)

Find the curve’s unit tangent vector. Also, find the length of the indicated portion of...

Construct a 4×3 matrix with rank 1

Find x such that the matrix is equal to its inverse.A=[7x−8−7]

Find a polynomial with integer coefficients that satisfies the given conditions. Q has degree 3...

Write in words how to read each of the following out loud.a.{x∈R′∣0&lt;x&lt;1}b.{x∈R∣x≤0orx⇒1}c.{n∈Z∣nisafactorof6}d.{n∈Z⋅∣nisafactorof6}

Pets Plus and Pet Planet are having a sale on the same aquarium. At Pets...

Find the average value of F(x, y, z) over the given region. F(x,y,z)=x2+9 over the...

Find the trace of the plane in the given coordinate plane. 3x−9y+4z=5,yz

Determine the level of measurement of the variable. Favorite color Choose the correct level of...

How wide is the chasm between what men and women earn in the workplace? According...

Write an algebraic expression for: 6 more than a number c.

Please, can u convert 3.16 (6 repeating) to a fraction.

Evaluate the expression. P(8, 3)

In a poker hand consisting of 5 cards, find the probability of holding 3 aces.

Give an expression that generates all angles coterminal with each angle. Let n represent any...

An ideal Otto cycle has a compression ratio of 10.5, takes in air at 90...

A piece of wire 10 m long is cut into two pieces. One piece is...

Put the following equation of a line into slope intercept form, simplifying all fractions 3x+3y=24

Find the point on the hyperbola xy = 8 that is closest to the point...

Water is pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir by a pump that...

A piston–cylinder device initially contains 0.07m3 of nitrogen gas at 130 kPa and 180∘. The...

Write an algebraic expression for each word phrase. 4 more than p

A club has 25 members. a) How many ways are there to choose four members...

For each of the sets below, determine whether {2} is an element of that set....

Which expression has both 8 and n as factors?

If repetitions are not permitted (a) how many 3 digit number can be formed from...

To determine the sum of all multiples of 3 between 1 and 1000

On average, there are 3 accidents per month at one intersection. We need to find...

One number is 2 more than 3 times another. Their sum is 22. Find the...

The PMF for a flash drive with X (GB) of memory that was purchased is...

An airplane needs to reach a velocity of 203.0 km/h to takeoff. On a 2000...

A racquetball strikes a wall with a speed of 30 m/s and rebounds with a...

Assuming that the random variable x has a cumulative distribution function,F(x)={0,x&lt;00.25x,0≤x&lt;51,5≤xDetermine the following:a)p(x&lt;2.8)b)p(x&gt;1.5)c)p(x&lt;−z)d)p(x&gt;b)

At t = 0 a grinding wheel has an angular velocity of 24.0 rad/s. It...

How many 3/4's are in 1?

You’re driving down the highway late one night at 20 m/s when a deer steps...

Table salt contains 39.33 g of sodium per 100 g of salt. The U.S. Food...

The constant-pressure heat capacity of a sample of a perfect gas was found to vary...

Coffee is draining from a conical filter into a cylindrical coffepot at the rate of...

Cart is driven by a large propeller or fan, which can accelerate or decelerate the...

A vending machine dispenses coffee into an eight-ounce cup. The amounts of coffee dispensed into...

On an essentially frictionless, horizontal ice rink, a skater moving at 3.0 m/s encounters a...

The gage pressure in a liquid at a depth of 3 m is read to...

Consider a cylindrical specimen of a steel alloy 8.5 mm (0.33 in.) in diameter and...

Calculate the total kinetic energy, in Btu, of an object with a mass of 10...

A 0.500-kg mass on a spring has velocity as a function of time given by...

An Australian emu is running due north in a straight line at a speed of...

Another pitfall cited is expecting to improve the overall performance of a computer by improving...

You throw a glob of putty straight up toward the ceiling, which is 3.60 m...

A 0.150-kg frame, when suspended from a coil spring, stretches the spring 0.070 m. A...

A batch of 140 semiconductor chips is inspected by choosing a sample of 5 chips....

A rock climber stands on top of a 50-m-high cliff overhanging a pool of water....

A tank whose bottom is a mirror is filled with water to a depth of...

Two sites are being considered for wind power generation. In the first site, the wind...

0.250 kilogram of water at75.0∘Care contained in a tiny, inert beaker. How much ice, at...

Two boats start together and race across a 60-km-wide lake and back. Boat A goes...

A roller coaster moves 200 ft horizontally and the rises 135 ft at an angle...

A tow truck drags a stalled car along a road. The chain makes an angle...

Consider the curve created by2x2+3y2–4xy=36(a) Show thatdydx=2y−2x3y−2x(b) Calculate the slope of the line perpendicular to...

The current entering the positive terminal of a device is i(t)=6e−2t mA and the voltage...

The fastest measured pitched baseball left the pitcher’s hand at a speed of 45.0 m/s....

Calculate the total potential energy, in Btu, of an object that is 20 ft below...

A chemist in an imaginary universe, where electrons have a different charge than they do...

When jumping, a flea reaches a takeoff speed of 1.0 m/s over a distance of...

Determine the energy required to accelerate a 1300-kg car from 10 to 60 km/h on...

The deepest point in the ocean is 11 km below sea level, deeper than MT....

A golfer imparts a speed of 30.3 m/s to a ball, and it travels the...

Calculate the frequency of each of the following wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. A) 632.8 nm...

Prove that there is a positive integer that equals the sum of the positive integers...

A hurricane wind blows across a 6.00 m×15.0 m flat roof at a speed of...

If an electron and a proton are expelled at the same time,2.0×10−10mapart (a typical atomic...

The speed of sound in air at 20 C is 344 m/s. (a) What is...

Which of the following functions f has a removable discontinuity at a? If the discontinuity...

A uniform steel bar swings from a pivot at one end with a period of...

A wind farm generator uses a two-bladed propellermounted on a pylon at a height of...

A copper calorimeter can with mass 0.100 kg contains 0.160 kgof water and 0.018 kg...

Jones figures that the total number of thousands of miles that a used auto can...

Assign a binary code in some orderly manner to the 52 playingcards. Use the minimum...

A copper pot with mass 0.500 kg contains 0.170 kg of water ata temperature of...

Ea for a certain biological reaction is 50 kJ/mol, by what factor ( how many...

When a person stands on tiptoe (a strenuous position), the position of the foot is...

A solution was prepared by dissolving 1210 mg of K3Fe(CN)6 (329.2 g/mol) in sufficient waterto...

A 58-kg skier is going down a slope oriented 35 degree abovethe horizontal. The area...

The mechanics at lincoln automotive are reboring a 6-in deepcylinder to fit a new piston....

A 0.48 kg piece of wood floats in water but is found to sinkin alcohol...

A 50-g ice cube at 0oC is heated until 45-g hasbecome water at 100oC and...

A solution containing 6.23 ppm of KMnO4 had a transmittance of 0.195 in a 1.00-cm...

A black body at 7500K consists of an opening of diameter 0.0500mm, looking into an...

A new absolute temperature scale is proposed. On thisscale the ice point of water is...

A 65.0 mm focal length converging lens is 78.0 mm away from a sharp image....

A crate of fruit with mass 35.0 kg and specific heat capacity 3650 J/Kg ....

A freezer has a thermal efficiency of 2.40. Thefreezer is to convert 1.80 kg of...

A horizontal force of 210N is exerted on a 2.0 kg discus as it rotates...

Lead has a specific heat of 0.030 cal/gC. In an insulated container, 300 grams of...

A parachutist relies on air resistance mainly on her parachute to decrease her downward velocity....

The distance between a carbon atom (m=12 u) and an oxygen atom (m + 16...

A car heading north collides at an intersection with a truckheading east. If they lock...

Water stands at a depth H in a large, open tank whose sidewalls are vertical....

The heaviest invertebrate is the giant squid, which is estimated to have a weight of...

Which of the following is a correct comment? */ Comments */ ** Comment ** /*...

The concentrated sulfuric acid we use in the laboratory is 98% H2SO4 by mass. Calculate...

Consider the reaction N2(g)+3H2(g)→2NH3(g) suppose that a particular moment during the reaction molecular hydrogen on...

use Green’s Theorem to find the counterclockwise circulation and outward flux for the field F...

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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.

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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## 10 Problem-Solving Scenarios for High School Students

It is certainly common to come across difficult situations including forgetting an assignment at home or overusing your phone only to miss an important project deadline. We are always surrounded by little difficulties that might become bigger problems if not addressed appropriately.

Whether it is saving your friend from the addiction to social media platforms or communicating your personal boundaries to relatives, problem-solving skills are one of the important skills you need to acquire throughout the journey of life.

Do you think these skills are in-built with other high school students? Certainly not.

It takes innovative learning methodologies just like problem-solving scenarios that help you immerse in the subject matter with precision. With problem-solving scenarios, you come across a range of problems that help you build critical thinking skills, logical reasoning, and analytical techniques.

The article will take you through scenarios that are a combination of various problems that need to be addressed strategically and carefully. As you read ahead, make sure to brainstorm solutions and choose the best one that fits the scenario.

## Helpful scenarios to build a problem-solving attitude in high schoolers

Learning through scenarios helps students look at situations from a completely analytical perspective. Problem-solving scenarios offer a combination of various situations that test the thinking skills and growth mindset of high school students. The below-mentioned scenarios are perfect for implementing problem-solving skills simply by allowing open discussions and contributions by students.

## 1. Uninvited Guests

You have arranged a party at your home after successfully winning the competition at the Science Fair. You invite everyone involved in the project however, one of your friends brings his cousin’s brother along. However, you have limited soft drink cans considering the number of invited people. How would you manage this situation without making anyone feel left out?

## 2. Communication Issues

A new teacher has joined the high school to teach about environmental conservation. She often involves students in different agriculture activities and workshops. However, one of your friends, John, is not able to understand the subject matter. He is unable to communicate his doubts to the teachers. How would you motivate him to talk to the teacher without the fear of judgment?

## 3. Friendship or Personal Choice?

The history teacher announced an exciting assignment opportunity that helps you explore ancient civilizations. You and your friend are pretty interested in doing the project as a team. One of your other friends, Jason, wants to join the team with limited knowledge and interest in the topic. Would you respect the friendship or deny him so you can score better on the assignment?

## 4. Peer Pressure

It is common for high schoolers to follow what their friends do. However, lately, your friends have discovered different ways of showing off their skills. While they do all the fun things, there are certain activities you are not interested in doing. It often puts you in trouble whether to go with friends or take a stand for what is right. Would you take the help of peer mentoring activities in school or try to initiate a direct conversation with them?

## 5. Team Building

Mr. Jason, the science teacher, assigns different projects and forms teams with random classmates. There are 7 people in each team who need to work towards project completion. As the group starts working, you notice that some members do not contribute at all. How will you ensure that everyone participates and coordinates with the team members?

## 6. Conflict Resolution

The drama club and the English club are famous clubs in the school. Both clubs organize various events for the students. This time, both clubs have a tiff because of the event venue. Both clubs need the same auditorium for the venue on the same date. How would you mediate to solve the issue and even make sure that club members are on good terms with each other?

## 7. Stress Management

Your school often conducts different activities or asks students stress survey questions to ensure their happiness and well-being. However, one of your friends always misses them. He gets frustrated and seems stressed throughout the day. What would you do to ensure that your friend gets his issue acknowledged by teachers?

## 8. Time Management

Your friend is always enthusiastic about new competitions in high school. He is running here and there to enroll and get certificates. In this case, he often misses important lectures and activities in class. Moreover, his parents complain that he misses swimming class too. How would you explain to him the importance of prioritizing and setting goals to solve this issue?

## 9. Educational Resources

You and your friends are avid readers and often take advice from books. While most must-read books for bibliophiles are read by you, it is important to now look for other books. However, you witness that the school library lacks other important books on philosophy and the non-fiction category. How would you escalate this issue to the higher authorities by addressing the needs of students?

## 10. Financial Planning

Finance is an important factor and that is why your parents help you plan your pocket money and budgeting. Off lately, they have stopped doing so considering that you can manage on your own. However, after a few months, you have started spending more on games and high-end school supplies. You realize that your spending habits are leading to loss of money and reduced savings. How shall you overcome this situation?

## Wrapping Up

Involving students in different learning practices and innovative ways inspires them to think out of the box and make use of imagination skills. With the usage of different problem-solving scenarios, high school students get an opportunity to delve into realistic examples and consequences of different incidents.

Such scenarios offer an excellent way to promote understanding, critical thinking skills and enhance creativity. Ensure to use different activities and games for creating a comprehensive learning environment.

Sananda Bhattacharya, Chief Editor of TheHighSchooler, is dedicated to enhancing operations and growth. With degrees in Literature and Asian Studies from Presidency University, Kolkata, she leverages her educational and innovative background to shape TheHighSchooler into a pivotal resource hub. Providing valuable insights, practical activities, and guidance on school life, graduation, scholarships, and more, Sananda’s leadership enriches the journey of high school students.

Explore a plethora of invaluable resources and insights tailored for high schoolers at TheHighSchooler, under the guidance of Sananda Bhattacharya’s expertise. You can follow her on Linkedin

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## Self-Esteem

It’s ok you can’t solve every problem, trying to “fix" everything can leave you feeling like a failure..

Updated May 10, 2024 | Reviewed by Ray Parker

• What Is Self-Esteem?
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• Your intrinsic value is more than what you can do for other people.

You are still worthwhile and can be successful, even if you don’t have all the solutions.

• Consider which decision will make you feel you’ve stayed true to your values.

In coaching others, I often discuss problem-solving strategies to help individuals think creatively and consider many options when they are faced with challenging situations.

Problem solving 1-2 includes the following:

• Define the problem, identify obstacles, and set realistic goals .
• Generate a variety of alternative solutions to overcome obstacles identified.
• Choose which idea has the highest likelihood to achieve the goal.
• Try out the solution in real-life and see if it worked or not.

Problem-solving strategies can be helpful in many situations. Thinking creatively and testing out different potential solutions can help you come up with alternative ways of solving your problems.

While many problems can be solved, there are also situations in which there is no “perfect” solution or in which what seems to be the best solution still leaves you feeling unsatisfied or like you’re not doing enough.

I encourage you to increase your comfort around the following three truths:

1. You can’t always solve everyone else’s problems.

2. You can’t always solve all of your own problems.

3. You are not a failure if you can’t solve every problem.

You can’t always solve everyone else’s problems.

When someone around you needs help, do you feel compelled to find solutions to their problem?

Are you seen as the problem solver at your job or in your close relationships?

Does it feel uncomfortable for you to listen to someone tell you about a problem and not offer solutions?

There are times when others come to you because they know you can help them solve a problem. There are also times when the other person is coming to you not for a solution to their problem, but for support, empathy, and a listening ear.

Your relationships may be negatively impacted if others feel that you don’t fully listen and only try to “fix” everything for them. While this may feel like a noble act, it may lead the other person to feel like they have failed or that you think they are unable to solve their own problems.

Consider approaching such situations with curiosity by saying to the other person:

• As you share this information with me, tell me how I can best support you.
• What would be most helpful right now? Are you looking for an empathetic ear or want to brainstorm potential next steps?
• I want to be sure I am as helpful as I can be right now; what are you hoping to get out of our conversation?

You can’t always solve all of your own problems.

We are taught from a young age that problems have a solution. For example, while solving word problems in math class may not have been your favorite thing to do, you knew there was ultimately a “right” answer. Many times, the real world is much more complex, and many of the problems that you face do not have clear or “right” answers.

You may often be faced with finding solutions that do the most good for the most amount of people, but you know that others may still be left out or feel unsatisfied with the result.

Your beliefs about yourself, other people, and the world can sometimes help you make decisions in such circumstances. You may ask for help from others. Some may consider their faith or spirituality for guidance. While others may consider philosophical theories.

Knowing that there often isn’t a “perfect” solution, you may consider asking yourself some of the following questions:

• What’s the healthiest decision I can make? The healthiest decision for yourself and for those who will be impacted.
• Imagine yourself 10 years in the future, looking back on the situation: What do you think the future-you would encourage you to do?
• What would a wise person do?
• What decision will allow you to feel like you’ve stayed true to your values?

You are not a failure if you can’t solve all of the problems.

If you have internalized feeling like you need to be able to solve every problem that comes across your path, you may feel like a failure each time you don’t.

It’s impossible to solve every problem.

Your intrinsic value is more than what you can do for other people. You have value because you are you.

Consider creating more realistic and adaptive thoughts around your ability to help others and solve problems.

Some examples include:

• I am capable, even without solving all of the problems.
• I am worthwhile, even if I’m not perfect.
• What I do for others does not define my worth.
• In living my values, I know I’ve done my best.

I hope you utilize the information above to consider how you can coach yourself the next time you:

• Start to solve someone else’s problem without being asked.
• Feel stuck in deciding the best next steps.
• Judge yourself negatively.

1. D'zurilla, T. J., & Goldfried, M. R. (1971). Problem solving and behavior modification. Journal of abnormal psychology, 78(1), 107.

2. D’Zurilla, T. J., & Nezu, A. M. (2010). Problem-solving therapy. Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies, 3(1), 197-225.

Julie Radico, Psy.D. ABPP, is a board-certified clinical psychologist and coauthor of You Will Get Through This: A Mental Health First-Aid Kit.

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## 10 Best Math AI Solvers to Solve Math Problems Online

Tackling challenging math problems can be a time-consuming endeavor. Math AI solvers make learning math simple. These AI-powered tools use machine learning and advanced algorithms to rapidly analyze math problems at all grade levels. Whether you’re a high school student or at the college level, an AI math problem solver can help save you time, ensure accuracy, and boost your school success.

With 24/7 convenience, they can be used anytime to get instant help with confusing math problems. When curating our list of top 10 best math AI solvers, we looked at several important factors, such as pricing, features, strengths, and weaknesses. Let’s explore these tools and learn in which areas they excel:

## Mathful – Best Overall Math AI Solver to Solve Math Problems

Mathful is a valuable AI math solver often used by students to get help with complicated math problems. It delivers step-by-step guidance that breaks down the problem to make it easier to digest. The tool also provides the final answer to allow students to verify their solutions and gain confidence in their math skills.

Mathful is available 24/7, making it a convenient tool for students to get instant help with their math homework. Mathful acts as the ultimate solution for boosting academic success at all math levels.

• Helps students gain a deeper understanding of math concepts with step-by-step guidance.
• Serves as a verification tool where students can check their work without costing a dime.
• Enables students to complete their math homework with just one click.
• Cannot be used to supplement a real classroom education.

Solve Math Problems Instantly with Mathful’s AI Math Solver >>>

## AI Math – Best AI Math Solver for All Grade Levels

AI Math is an innovative math AI solver designed to solve a wide range of mathematical problems, ranging from basic math concepts to more challenging equations.

The way this unique tool works is by analyzing the math problem, finding potential solutions, validating those solutions, and returning the best possible results for the given problem.

While some math AI tools are only capable of solving basic math problems, AI Math is more diverse. Use it to solve math problems at all grade levels, from elementary to university and beyond. AI Math is trained on an extensive database of mathematical information and can guarantee 98% accuracy.

• Generates solutions to math problems with a high rate of accuracy.
• Designed to provide almost instant results for efficiency.
• Covers all types of math and homework at all grade levels.
• Requires a subscription after the initial trial period.

## HIX Tutor – Best AI Math Solver for High Accuracy

HIX Tutor provides students with the solutions they need to understand and solve their math problems.

With this powerful math solver AI tool, users can type in a math question or upload a document or image of the question. Using this input, Math AI Solver uses machine learning technology to perform dynamic calculations and give users the correct answer.

HIX Tutor can provide solutions for math homework problems at all levels with a 98% accuracy rate. However, the tool goes beyond mere problem-solving by offering comprehensive calculations on how to solve the problem from start to finish.

• Provides step-by-step solutions to math problems.
• Is less expensive than hiring a math tutor.
• Can type in math questions or upload documents or images of the problem.
• May have difficulty recognizing documents with messy handwriting.

## HomeworkAI – Best All-in-One Solution for Homework Help

HomeworkAI is the ultimate homework assistant that can be used to get answers to any homework question, from math and science to history and geography. Its math AI solver acts as your personal AI tutor by providing comprehensive solutions to math problems that help students better understand the material.

This unique AI tool is available 24/7, making it a convenient and accessible resource for students who need immediate help with their homework. As the tool is free to try, students can get started right away by asking a math question that they’re struggling with. HomeworkAI can also help students prepare for important tests or exams by providing step-by-step instructions on how to work through certain math questions.

• Covers all school subjects, including math.
• Provides step-by-step explanations for each math problem.
• Supports multiple math problem input methods.
• Some math solutions may be difficult to understand.

## Question AI – Best Homework AI Tool for Greater Academic Success

Question AI is a leading homework helper that uses powerful AI technology to instantly help with any school subject. Question AI is often used for any math problems, covering algebra, geometry, calculus, arithmetic, and trigonometry. Students often waste hours struggling with challenging homework questions they simply don’t understand. Question AI simplifies the homework process by breaking down the question to make it easier to learn. The math AI solver also promises a 99% accurate answer to the math question, allowing students to verify their own work.

Question AI serves as an innovative all-in-one product for AI homework help. It is a highly effective tool for helping students reach greater academic achievement.

• Covers all homework subjects, including all branches of mathematics.
• Supports many different languages.
• Accuracy may be limited beyond core math subjects.
• The mobile app is not yet available.
• Costs money after the free trial.

## QuickMath – Best Math AI Solver for High School and College Students

QuickMath is designed to automatically answer common math problems in algebra, calculus, and equations. The tool offers several options for solving math problems, including solving an equation, inequality, or a system. It can also simplify an expression, factor an expression, or expand a product or power. The diverse AI math solver can also graph, find the greatest common factor, and the least common measure. Advanced math solvers are also available for more complex math problems.

QuickMath is geared toward high school and college-level students. The tool’s features and capabilities are always being improved to ensure that users have access to the most comprehensive AI math tools available.

• Offers a wide range of standard and advanced math solvers.
• Quick-solve tutorials are available to help users learn math concepts.
• Math problems must be typed in and cannot be uploaded.
• Not suitable for grade levels lower than high school.
• Some users may receive Timeout messages due to 15-second CPU time rules.

## Smodin – Best AI Math Solver for Acing Math Exams

Smodin Math AI Homework Solver offers a fast and effective way to prepare for difficult math exams. The versatile homework helper uses machine learning and advanced algorithms to help students learn core math concepts and boost their grades in school. Simply input a question or assignment and Smodin instantly generates step-by-step solutions.  The math solver AI tool consists of a simple interface that allows students to enter a question to solve. At the click of a button, the tool starts working to analyze the problem and present the best answer based on the equation.

While Smodin Math AI Homework Solver does lack advanced features and capabilities, it can be a useful tool for students who want to study before a big math test.

• Provides in-depth answers to math questions to help students ace math exams.
• Users are given 3 free credits a day to ask math questions.
• The clean interface makes it easy to enter math questions to solve.
• Offers no advanced math features or capabilities.
• Users must pay for a subscription after reaching the daily credit limit.

## StudyMonkey – Best AI Math Problem Solver for Personalized Learning

StudyMonkey is a diverse homework helper for students that uses complex machine learning capabilities to provide step-by-step guidance on many school subjects, including math.  The innovative math AI solver can be used by learners of all backgrounds and ages to improve their understanding of math concepts and enhance their academic success. With round-the-clock availability, this unique tool can save students significant time when completing homework assignments.

• Students can personalize their output based on the subject and grade level.
• There is a free plan for users that only requires occasional homework help.
• Users can see a history of past questions and answers.
• Users must purchase a paid plan to ask more than 3 questions daily.
• Answers to more complex math questions may not be as accurate.
• Must upgrade to the \$8 plan to use the Advanced AI Model.

## Interactive Mathematics – Best Math AI Tool for Solving Word Problems

Interactive Mathematics claims to be more accurate than ChatGPT, faster than a math tutor, and more powerful than a math calculator. The advanced AI math problem solver has been trained in a wide array of math subjects, such as basic algebra, advanced algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus, advanced calculus, physics, and more. It is also highly effective at solving math word problems with step-by-step solutions.

With Interactive Mathematics, users can type in their math problems or copy and paste a photo. The tool then analyzes the problem and delivers near-instant results.

• Efficient at solving math word problems.
• Optimized for mobile phones and tablet use.
• A subscription comes with additional discounts and bonuses.
• Users can only ask 3 questions before having to upgrade to the paid version.
• No app is yet available.
• Pushes tutoring services when the tool is unable to give an accurate answer.

## SnapXam – Best AI Math Solver for On-the-Go

SnapXam is an AI-powered math tutor that can help students better understand different types of math, from calculus to trigonometry.  After entering the math problem, the tool quickly presents the final answer, as well as a step-by-step solution that shows how to work out the problem.

• Students can get AI math help with only access to a smartphone.
• Offers multiple solving methods.
• Covers more than 100 different math topics.
• Geared toward older students.
• Accuracy issues may occur with advanced math problems.

Completing math assignments can be a long and tedious process. Having access to the best math AI tools can help eliminate the stress and frustration that come with not understanding math problems. For convenience, efficiency, and unmatched accuracy, try some of the top math AI tools like Mathful for free today!

This is a guest post, created for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as professional advice. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and consult with relevant experts before making any financial or investment decisions.

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## Stormy Daniels Takes the Stand

The porn star testified for eight hours at donald trump’s hush-money trial. this is how it went..

This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email [email protected] with any questions.

It’s 6:41 AM. I’m feeling a little stressed because I’m running late. It’s the fourth week of Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial. It’s a white collar trial. Most of the witnesses we’ve heard from have been, I think, typical white collar witnesses in terms of their professions.

We’ve got a former publisher, a lawyer, accountants. The witness today, a little less typical, Stormy Daniels, porn star in a New York criminal courtroom in front of a jury more accustomed to the types of witnesses they’ve already seen. There’s a lot that could go wrong.

From “The New York Times,” I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

Today, what happened when Stormy Daniels took the stand for eight hours in the first criminal trial of Donald J. Trump. As before, my colleague Jonah Bromwich was inside the courtroom.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

It’s Friday, May 10th.

So it’s now day 14 of this trial. And I think it’s worth having you briefly, and in broad strokes, catch listeners up on the biggest developments that have occurred since you were last on, which was the day that opening arguments were made by both the defense and the prosecution. So just give us that brief recap.

Sure. It’s all been the prosecution’s case so far. And prosecutors have a saying, which is that the evidence is coming in great. And I think for this prosecution, which is trying to show that Trump falsified business records to cover up a sex scandal, to ease his way into the White House in 2016, the evidence has been coming in pretty well. It’s come in well through David Pecker, former publisher of The National Enquirer, who testified that he entered into a secret plot with Trump and Michael Cohen, his fixer at the time, to suppress negative stories about Trump, the candidate.

It came in pretty well through Keith Davidson, who was a lawyer to Stormy Daniels in 2016 and negotiated the hush money payment. And we’ve seen all these little bits and pieces of evidence that tell the story that prosecutors want to tell. And the case makes sense so far. We can’t tell what the jury is thinking, as we always say.

But we can tell that there’s a narrative that’s coherent and that matches up with the prosecution’s opening statement. Then we come to Tuesday. And that day really marks the first time that the prosecution’s strategy seems a little bit risky because that’s the day that Stormy Daniels gets called to the witness stand.

OK, well, just explain why the prosecution putting Stormy Daniels on the stand would be so risky. And I guess it makes sense to answer that in the context of why the prosecution is calling her as a witness at all.

Well, you can see why it makes sense to have her. The hush money payment was to her. The cover-up of the hush money payment, in some ways, concerns her. And so she’s this character who’s very much at the center of this story. But according to prosecutors, she’s not at the center of the crime. The prosecution is telling a story, and they hope a compelling one. And arguably, that story starts with Stormy Daniels. It starts in 2006, when Stormy Daniels says that she and Trump had sex, which is something that Trump has always denied.

So if prosecutors were to not call Stormy Daniels to the stand, you would have this big hole in the case. It would be like, effect, effect, effect. But where is the cause? Where is the person who set off this chain reaction? But Stormy Daniels is a porn star. She’s there to testify about sex. Sex and pornography are things that the jurors were not asked about during jury selection. And those are subjects that bring up all kinds of different complex reactions in people.

And so, when the prosecutors bring Stormy Daniels to the courtroom, it’s very difficult to know how the jurors will take it, particularly given that she’s about to describe a sexual episode that she says she had with the former president. Will the jurors think that makes sense, as they sit here and try to decide a falsifying business records case, or will they ask themselves, why are we hearing this?

So the reason why this is the first time that the prosecution’s strategy is, for journalists like you, a little bit confusing, is because it’s the first time that the prosecution seems to be taking a genuine risk in what they’re putting before these jurors. Everything else has been kind of cut and dry and a little bit more mechanical. This is just a wild card.

This is like live ammunition, to some extent. Everything else is settled and controlled. And they know what’s going to happen. With Stormy Daniels, that’s not the case.

OK, so walk us through the testimony. When the prosecution brings her to the stand, what actually happens?

It starts, as every witness does, with what’s called direct examination, which is a fancy word for saying prosecutors question Stormy Daniels. And they have her tell her story. First, they have her tell the jury about her education and where she grew up and her professional experience. And because of Stormy Daniels’s biography, that quickly goes into stripping, and then goes into making adult films.

And I thought the prosecutor who questioned her, Susan Hoffinger, had this nice touch in talking about that, because not only did she ask Daniels about acting in adult films. But she asked her about writing and directing them, too, emphasizing the more professional aspects of that work and giving a little more credit to the witness, as if to say, well, you may think this or you may think that. But this is a person with dignity who took what she did seriously. Got it.

What’s your first impression of Daniels as a witness?

It’s very clear that she’s nervous. She’s speaking fast. She’s laughing to herself and making small jokes. But the tension in the room is so serious from the beginning, from the moment she enters, that those jokes aren’t landing. So it just feels, like, really heavy and still and almost oppressive in there. So Daniels talking quickly, seeming nervous, giving more answers than are being asked of her by the prosecution, even before we get to the sexual encounter that she’s about to describe, all of that presents a really discomfiting impression, I would say.

And how does this move towards the encounter that Daniels ultimately has?

It starts at a golf tournament in 2006, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Daniels meets Trump there. There are other celebrities there, too. They chatted very briefly. And then she received a dinner invitation from him. She thought it over, she says. And she goes to have dinner with Trump, not at a restaurant, by the way. But she’s invited to join him in the hotel suite.

So she gets to the hotel suite. And his bodyguard is there. And the hotel door is cracked open. And the bodyguard greets her and says she looks nice, this and that. And she goes in. And there’s Donald Trump, just as expected. But what’s not expected, she says, is that he’s not wearing what you would wear to a dinner with a stranger, but instead, she says, silk or satin pajamas. She asked him to change, she says. And he obliges.

He goes, and he puts on a dress shirt and dress pants. And they sit down at the hotel suite’s dining room table. And they have a kind of bizarre dinner. Trump is asking her very personal questions about pornography and safe sex. And she testifies that she teased him about vain and pompous he is. And then at some point, she goes to the bathroom. And she sees that he has got his toiletries in there, his Old Spice, his gold tweezers.

Very specific details.

Yeah, we’re getting a ton of detail in this scene. And the reason we’re getting those is because prosecutors are trying to elicit those details to establish that this is a credible person, that this thing did happen, despite what Donald Trump and his lawyers say. And the reason you can know it happened, prosecutors seem to be saying, is because, look at all these details she can still summon up.

She comes out of the bathroom. And she says that Donald Trump is on the hotel bed. And what stands out to me there is what she describes as a very intense physical reaction. She says that she blacked out. And she quickly clarifies, she doesn’t mean from drugs or alcohol. She means that, she says, that the intensity of this experience was such that, suddenly, she can’t remember every detail. The prosecution asks a question that cuts directly to the sex. Essentially, did you start having sex with him? And Daniels says that she did. And she continues to provide more details than even, I think, the prosecution wanted.

And I think we don’t want to go chapter and verse through this claimed sexual encounter. But I wonder what details stand out and which details feel important, given the prosecution’s strategy here.

All the details stand out because it’s a story about having had sex with a former president. And the more salacious and more private the details feel, the more you’re going to remember them. So we’ll remember that Stormy Daniels said what position they had sex in. We’ll remember that she said he didn’t use a condom. Whether that’s important to the prosecution’s case, now, that’s a much harder question to answer, as we’ve been saying.

But what I can tell you is, as she’s describing having had sex with Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is sitting right there, and Eric Trump, his son, is sitting behind him, seeming to turn a different color as he hears this embarrassment of his father being described to a courtroom full of reporters at this trial, it’s hard to even describe the energy in that room. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. And it was just Daniels’s testimony and, seemingly, the former President’s emotions. And you almost felt like you were trapped in there with both of them as this description was happening.

Well, I think it’s important to try to understand why the prosecution is getting these details, these salacious, carnal, pick your word, graphic details about sex with Donald Trump. What is the value, if other details are clearly making the point that she’s recollecting something?

Well, I think, at this point, we can only speculate. But one thing we can say is, this was uncomfortable. This felt bad. And remember, prosecutor’s story is not about the sex. It’s about trying to hide the sex. So if you’re trying to show a jury why it might be worthwhile to hide a story, it might be worth —

Providing lots of salacious details that a person would want to hide.

— exposing them to how bad that story feels and reminding them that if they had been voters and they had heard that story, and, in fact, they asked Daniels this very question, if you hadn’t accepted hush money, if you hadn’t signed that NDA, is this the story you would have told? And she said, yes. And so where I think they’re going with this, but we can’t really be sure yet, is that they’re going to tell the jurors, hey, that story, you can see why he wanted to cover that up, can’t you?

You mentioned the hush money payments. What testimony does Daniels offer about that? And how does it advance the prosecution’s case of business fraud related to the hush money payments?

So little evidence that it’s almost laughable. She says that she received the hush money. But we actually already heard another witness, her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, testify that he had received the hush money payment on her behalf. And she testified about feeling as if she had to sell this story because the election was fast approaching, almost as if her leverage was slipping away because she knew this would be bad for Trump.

That feels important. But just help me understand why it’s important.

Well, what the prosecution has been arguing is that Trump covered up this hush money payment in order to conceal a different crime. And that crime, they say, was to promote his election to the presidency by illegal means.

So when Daniels ties her side of the payment into the election, it just reminds the jurors maybe, oh, right, this is what they’re arguing.

So how does the prosecution end this very dramatic, and from everything you’re saying, very tense questioning of Stormy Daniels about this encounter?

Well, before they can even end, the defense lawyers go and they consult among themselves. And then, with the jury out of the room, one of them stands up. And he says that the defense is moving for a mistrial.

On what terms?

He says that the testimony offered by Daniels that morning is so prejudicial, so damning to Trump in the eyes of the jury, that the trial can no longer be fair. Like, how could these jurors have heard these details and still be fair when they render their verdict? And he says a memorable expression. He says, you can’t un-ring that bell, meaning they heard it. They can’t un-hear it. It’s over. Throw out this trial. It should be done.

Wow. And what is the response from the judge?

So the judge, Juan Merchan, he hears them out. And he really hears them out. But at the end of their arguments, he says, I do think she went a little too far. He says that. He said, there were things that were better left unsaid.

By Stormy Daniels?

By Stormy Daniels. And he acknowledges that she is a difficult witness. But, he says, the remedy for that is not a mistrial, is not stopping the whole thing right now. The remedy for that is cross-examination. If the defense feels that there are issues with her story, issues with her credibility, they can ask her whatever they want. They can try to win the jury back over. If they think this jury has been poisoned by this witness, well, this is their time to provide the antidote. The antidote is cross-examination. And soon enough, cross-examination starts. And it is exactly as intense and combative as we expected.

We’ll be right back.

So, Jonah, how would you characterize the defense’s overall strategy in this intense cross-examination of Stormy Daniels?

People know the word impeach from presidential impeachments. But it has a meaning in law, too. You impeach a witness, and, specifically, their credibility. And that’s what the defense is going for here. They are going to try to make Stormy Daniels look like a liar, a fraud, an extortionist, a money-grubbing opportunist who wanted to take advantage of Trump and sought to do so by any means necessary.

And what did that impeachment strategy look like in the courtroom?

The defense lawyer who questions Stormy Daniels is a woman named Susan Necheles. She’s defended Trump before. And she’s a bit of a cross-examination specialist. We even saw her during jury selection bring up these past details to confront jurors who had said nasty things about Trump on social media with. And she wants to do the same thing with Daniels. She wants to bring up old interviews and old tweets and things that Daniels has said in the past that don’t match what Daniels is saying from the stand.

What’s a specific example? And do they land?

Some of them land. And some of them don’t. One specific example is that Necheles confronts Daniels with this old tweet, where Daniels says that she’s going to dance down the street if Trump goes to jail. And what she’s trying to show there is that Daniels is out for revenge, that she hates Trump, and that she wants to see him go to jail. And that’s why she’s testifying against him.

And Daniels is very interesting during the cross-examination. It’s almost as if she’s a different person. She kind of squares her shoulders. And she sits up a little straighter. And she leans forward. Daniels is ready to fight. But it doesn’t quite land. The tweet actually says, I’ll dance down the street when he’s selected to go to jail.

And Daniels goes off on this digression about how she knows that people don’t get selected to go to jail. That’s not how it works. But she can’t really unseat this argument, that she’s a political enemy of Donald Trump. So that one kind of sticks, I would say. But there are other moves that Necheles tries to pull that don’t stick.

So unlike the prosecution, which typically used words like adult, adult film, Necheles seems to be taking every chance she can get to say porn, or pornography, or porn star, to make it sound base or dirty. And so when she starts to ask Daniels about actually being in pornography, writing, acting, and directing sex films, she tries to land a punch line, Necheles does. She says, so you have a lot of experience making phony stories about sex appear to be real, right?

As if to say, perhaps this story you have told about entering Trump’s suite in Lake Tahoe and having sex with him was made up.

Just another one of your fictional stories about sex. But Daniels comes back and says, the sex in the films, it’s very much real, just like what happened to me in that room. And so, when you have this kind of combat of a lawyer cross-examining very aggressively and the witness fighting back, you can feel the energy in the room shift as one lands a blow or the other does. But here, Daniels lands one back. And the other issue that I think Susan Necheles runs into is, she tries to draw out disparities from interviews that Daniels gave, particularly to N-TOUCH, very early on once the story was out.

It’s kind of like a tabloid magazine?

But some of the disparities don’t seem to be landing quite like Necheles would want. So she tries to do this complicated thing about where the bodyguard was in the room when Daniels walked into the room, as described in an interview in a magazine. But in that magazine interview, as it turns out, Daniels mentioned that Trump was wearing pajamas. And so, if I’m a juror, I don’t care where the bodyguard is. I’m thinking about, oh, yeah, I remember that Stormy Daniels said now in 2024 that Trump was wearing pajamas.

I’m curious if, as somebody in the room, you felt that the defense was effective in undermining Stormy Daniels’s credibility? Because what I took from the earlier part of our conversation was that Stormy Daniels is in this courtroom on behalf of the prosecution to tell a story that’s uncomfortable and has the kind of details that Donald Trump would be motivated to try to hide. And therefore, this defense strategy is to say, those details about what Trump might want to hide, you can’t trust them. So does this back and forth effectively hurt Stormy Daniels’s credibility, in your estimation?

I don’t think that Stormy Daniels came off as perfectly credible about everything she testified about. There are incidents that were unclear or confusing. There were things she talked about that I found hard to believe, when she, for instance, denied that she had attacked Trump in a tweet or talked about her motivations. But about what prosecutors need, that central story, the story of having had sex with him, we can’t know whether it happened.

But there weren’t that many disparities in these accounts over the years. In terms of things that would make me doubt the story that Daniels was telling, details that don’t add up, those weren’t present. And you don’t have to take my word for that, nor should you. But the judge is in the room. And he says something very, very similar.

What does he say? And why does he say it?

Well, he does it when the defense, again, at the end of the day on Thursday, calls for a mistrial.

With a similar argument as before?

Not only with a similar argument as before, but, like, almost the exact same argument. And I would say that I was astonished to see them do this. But I wasn’t because I’ve covered other trials where Trump is the client. And in those trials, the lawyers, again and again, called for a mistrial.

And what does Judge Marchan say in response to this second effort to seek a mistrial?

Let me say, to this one, he seems a little less patient. He says that after the first mistrial ruling, two days before, he went into his chambers. And he read every decision he had made about the case. He took this moment to reflect on the first decision. And he found that he had, in his own estimation, which is all he has, been fair and not allowed evidence that was prejudicial to Trump into this trial. It could continue. And so he said that again. And then he really almost turned on the defense. And he said that the things that the defense was objecting to were things that the defense had made happen.

He says that in their opening statement, the defense could have taken issue with many elements of the case, about whether there were falsified business records, about any of the other things that prosecutors are saying happened. But instead, he says, they focused their energy on denying that Trump ever had sex with Daniels.

And so that was essentially an invitation to the prosecution to call Stormy Daniels as a witness and have her say from the stand, yes, I had this sexual encounter. The upshot of it is that the judge not only takes the defense to task. But he also just says that he finds Stormy Daniels’s narrative credible. He doesn’t see it as having changed so much from year to year.

Interesting. So in thinking back to our original question here, Jonah, about the idea that putting Stormy Daniels on the stand was risky, I wonder if, by the end of this entire journey, you’re reevaluating that idea because it doesn’t sound like it ended up being super risky. It sounded like it ended up working reasonably well for the prosecution.

Well, let me just assert that it doesn’t really matter what I think. The jury is going to decide this. There’s 12 people. And we can’t know what they’re thinking. But my impression was that, while she was being questioned by the prosecution for the prosecution’s case, Stormy Daniels was a real liability. She was a difficult witness for them.

And the judge said as much. But when the defense cross-examined her, Stormy Daniels became a better witness, in part because their struggles to discredit her may have actually ended up making her story look more credible and stronger. And the reason that matters is because, remember, we said that prosecutors are trying to fill this hole in their case. Well, now, they have. The jury has met Stormy Daniels. They’ve heard her account. They’ve made of it what they will. And now, the sequence of events that prosecutors are trying to line up as they seek prison time for the former President really makes a lot of sense.

It starts with what Stormy Daniels says with sex in a hotel suite in 2006. It picks up years later, as Donald Trump is trying to win an election and, prosecutors say, suppressing negative stories, including Stormy Daniels’s very negative story. And the story that prosecutors are telling ends with Donald Trump orchestrating the falsification of business records to keep that story concealed.

Well, Jonah, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Of course, thanks for having me.

The prosecution’s next major witness will be Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who arranged for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Cohen is expected to take the stand on Monday.

Here’s what else you need to know today. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a defiant response to warnings from the United States that it would stop supplying weapons to Israel if Israel invades the Southern Gaza City of Rafah. So far, Israel has carried out a limited incursion into the city where a million civilians are sheltering, but has threatened a full invasion. In a statement, Netanyahu said, quote, “if we need to stand alone, we will stand alone.”

Meanwhile, high level ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas have been put on hold in part because of anger over Israel’s incursion into Rafah.

A reminder, tomorrow, we’ll be sharing the latest episode of our colleague’s new show, “The Interview” This week on “The Interview,” Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with radio host Charlamagne Tha God about his frustrations with how Americans talk about politics.

If me as a Black man, if I criticize Democrats, then I’m supporting MAGA. But if I criticize, you know, Donald Trump and Republicans, then I’m a Democratic shill. Why can’t I just be a person who deals in nuance?

Today’s episode was produced by Olivia Natt and Michael Simon Johnson. It was edited by Lexie Diao, with help from Paige Cowett, contains original music by Will Reid and Marion Lozano, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly.

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you on Monday.

• May 17, 2024   •   51:10 The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves
• May 16, 2024   •   30:47 The Make-or-Break Testimony of Michael Cohen
• May 15, 2024   •   27:03 The Possible Collapse of the U.S. Home Insurance System
• May 14, 2024   •   35:20 Voters Want Change. In Our Poll, They See It in Trump.
• May 13, 2024   •   27:46 How Biden Adopted Trump’s Trade War With China
• May 10, 2024   •   27:42 Stormy Daniels Takes the Stand
• May 9, 2024   •   34:42 One Strongman, One Billion Voters, and the Future of India
• May 8, 2024   •   28:28 A Plan to Remake the Middle East
• May 7, 2024   •   27:43 How Changing Ocean Temperatures Could Upend Life on Earth
• May 6, 2024   •   29:23 R.F.K. Jr.’s Battle to Get on the Ballot
• May 3, 2024   •   25:33 The Protesters and the President
• May 2, 2024   •   29:13 Biden Loosens Up on Weed

Hosted by Michael Barbaro

Featuring Jonah E. Bromwich

Produced by Olivia Natt and Michael Simon Johnson

Edited by Lexie Diao

With Paige Cowett

Original music by Will Reid and Marion Lozano

Engineered by Alyssa Moxley

## Listen and follow The Daily Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | YouTube

This episode contains descriptions of an alleged sexual liaison.

What happened when Stormy Daniels took the stand for eight hours in the first criminal trial of former President Donald J. Trump?

Jonah Bromwich, one of the lead reporters covering the trial for The Times, was in the room.

## On today’s episode

Jonah E. Bromwich , who covers criminal justice in New York for The New York Times.

In a second day of cross-examination, Stormy Daniels resisted the implication she had tried to shake down Donald J. Trump by selling her story of a sexual liaison.

Here are six takeaways from Ms. Daniels’s earlier testimony.

There are a lot of ways to listen to The Daily. Here’s how.

We aim to make transcripts available the next workday after an episode’s publication. You can find them at the top of the page.

The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Dan Farrell, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Lisa Tobin, Larissa Anderson, Julia Simon, Sofia Milan, Mahima Chablani, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli, Maddy Masiello, Isabella Anderson and Nina Lassam.

Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney’s office and state criminal courts in Manhattan. More about Jonah E. Bromwich

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