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Analytical Thinking Interview Questions and Answers

By Sandy

Do you dread the part of an interview where an interviewer just throws some unexpected situations to see how you analyze a complex task? With inadequate preparation, these questions can throw any candidate off balance and ruin an interview which was going well until this section came on. The purpose of these questions is to see how you approach a complex task, evaluate available information and recognize possible solutions, or at least nullify the initial hurdles to some extent.

There can be no particular answer to any of the analytical thinking interview questions. But following the right approach that helps you speak your mind can go a long way in impressing a prospective employer. In addition, how your answer is viewed by the interviewer depends on his/her perception and experience. Well, if there is no certainty or a hundred percent correct answer to such questions, why they need to be given an apt response? Simple, just because you want to clear an interview and get the job. True, how may points you score in an interview would not only depend on this, but why take a risk by giving canned answers that are nothing but hypothetical. Agreed, the questions might be hypothetical, but the interviewer is searching for a candidate who has the ability to prove his/her analytical thinking skills with a real work experiences and not someone who is just making up things.

Sounds like too much? In reality, many skills are covered under the umbrella of analytical thinking. These questions help an interviewer to judge from different aspects like whether the candidate has patience to do enough research, collect appropriate data and numerical figures, or ability to think and plan the crucial steps required to get a definite outcome. Also, such questions judge your risk taking ability, willingness to make amendments in case anything goes wrong, communication skills and the power to turn your words into action. In short, they tell the interviewer how competent you are for the job. You know the answer, but only giving out superficial details or poorly communicating ideas can be a red flag and just signal your exit. While every company has its own set of questions, try preparing your answers from the samples given.

  • As a team leader what you would do when one of the junior team members completely misunderstands his task?

I would try to investigate what happened, why he went wrong, is there any professional or personal reason behind failure, keep an eye on him, and encourage to rejoin the project when things get normal.

  • Tell a situation where the client refused to accept his mistake and lost trust in the company's products.

Customer is king. Once when an old client had registered a complaint about product quality, I listened patiently and sent an employee to his apartment to handle the situation. It was found that the complainant's children had mishandled the package because of which the product was disfigured. We reached an amicable solution with the customer and ensured he trusts us for future transactions

  • How do you rectify mistakes when you have failed to manage a task?

I will check my approach and understand the loopholes I overlooked to ensure that this is not repeated the next time.

  • Describe a situation where you took a risk despite warning from a senior official, and it paid off.

I started working on a project in advance even when my team lead asked me to drop it because of payment issues. The next day when the client demanded the project to be handed over in few hours I already had a rough draft ready due to my presence of mind.

  • What will be your approach if a colleague is divulging sensitive information of the company and you are aware of it?

First I would try to find if my suspicions are true and get an evidence to support them. then try to have a one-on-one conversation with the concerned person instead of reaching the supervisors. If the person still refuses to budge, I would have no option other than informing the management because ultimately professional ethics are important.

  • What is the most appropriate way to solve a problem?

Identify the problem, recognize the root cause, collect data, list down possible solutions, choose the best alternative, implement it, follow up on results, and prepare a report to see if the solution gives desired outcome, or try out the second most feasible solution.

  • What metrics you would track for a newly launched product?

I would analyze customer behavior by identifying their buying patterns and make use of frequent association mining to understand their expenditure capabilities and do a detailed research on offers they are likely to buy and implement similar or better package offers with the product.

  • How to handle a situation when a senior takes credit for a problem that existed long before you joined but was actually resolved after you came on board?

It's a tough one. Being just a recent recruit I would ask time of the senior for a private conversation and make him realize what he is doing. If he gets my point and rectifies, it would be an appreciable thing. If not, I can ask some other senior colleague whom I can confidently confide to look into the matter to ensure it doesn't get repeated.

  • How would you handle the stress when you realized the company's entire approach for a major project was wrong? The project is half-way but needs to be changed from the beginning. What steps would you take to avoid missing the deadline?

I would stop the complete process for some time and analyze the intensity of the problem. If it is small and can be fixed, I would immediately implement the solution. However, if the entire project needs to be redesigned from the base, I would ask my team to stop working and also inform the supervisors of the issue. If it was a mistake from the team, I would be willing to come clean on it and even ask all to put in extra efforts to ensure project's deadline is met without any compromises. It would be overall a great learning process if such a situation arise.

Worried? Analytical thinking skills can be improved. You don't need to go surfing the internet for hours, read thick volumes of books, or attend those classes that have put up huge advertisement hoardings which guarantees teaching these skills to individuals in just a week. If you are short of time and still want to focus on improving these skills, pay attention to what you do daily. Yes! Might look a bit surprising but observing things with a new angle, noticing what people in your surrounding do or solving a puzzle, or brain game when you are on that 5-minute break from work can go long in improving your analytical skills. To ace an interview, try giving examples of real-life or work experiences to sound more convincing and honest. Ideally, the interviewer gives sufficient time to answer questions. Hence, think before you speak! Considering all relevant factors and evaluating existing facts can help you come up with good answers even if you are not able to provide a concrete solution to the problem. These questions are purposefully asked to challenge your thinking abilities, and usually, the hiring manager keeps an eye on the candidates who do not quit easily when presented with situations that compel them to break their comfort zones.

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