I’ve run staffing groups at Fortune 500 firms for almost 25 years and now I’m a career coach and train individuals on how to have the best job search process possible. Often times, I help them map out what their top strengths are, and what areas they are looking to develop, because this is a top question that is often asked in an interview.
So the pre-work is very important if you are going to answer this question effectively. I suggest individuals list their top 10 strengths, and in the column next to each strength, list an example of how the excel at this, and in another column, ensure the example is quantified.
One strength you may have is creative problem solving as it’s a characteristic that is greatly valued by any company. Let’s face it - business is all about solving problems and coming up with creative solutions. The more creative you are the more successful you will be. This applies to any disciple: marketing, finance, human resources, the law, operations, and the list goes on and on.
Here are some examples of creative problem solving:
1. You were tasked with creating a new technology tracking system for new accounts. Your boss gives you a 2 month timeframe and tells you that you are the lead project manager.
o A creative move could be to find someone else in the company who worked with the technology group and ask them to be an “advisor” to save time and money that they perhaps wasted because they didn’t know any better.
o Also – if you had a friend who worked at another company who had a similar program, perhaps they could share it with you … as long as it didn’t violate any confidential or privileged info.
2. You are tasked with creating a new campus recruiting brochure at your company. You have to decide what “hot” colors are in and have no budget to hold focus groups or do market research.
o You could visit the closest Gap store and check out their color arrangements. Gap pours tons and tons of marketing dollars into the latest colors and this could appeal to your exact demographic.
3. Your manager asks you to significantly decrease the error rates on the opening of new accounts:
o A creative move could include doing some research on how errors are decreased: both on the web, and perhaps at Barnes & Nobles. There’s a book about everything!
o You could also do a survey of the new account opening reps and ask for the last 100 issues with new accounts, and create a short but succinct error analysis.
During an interview, it’s important to highlight what creative moves you made and what the result was. For example, the new brochure perhaps gave you strong accolades from your new recruits. Your approach to decreasing errors on new accounts decreased errors by 25%. And, your new technology program came in under budget, on time and the users are raving about how easy it is to use and how helpful the info is.
Remember during your interview to identify these success strategies and use them to “ease the pain” of the employer you are interviewing with. Remember, it’s always about what you can do for them … so be confident about your background, and be clear in your explanations…and quantify EVERYTHING!