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Problem solving test: Pre-employment screening assessment to hire the best candidates

All tests/Cognitive ability/
Problem Solving test
Type: Cognitive ability
Time: 9 min
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese
Level: Intermediate

Summary of the Problem Solving test

This Problem Solving test evaluates candidates’ ability to define problems and analyze data and textual information to make correct decisions. This test helps you identify candidates who use analytical skills to evaluate and respond to complex situations.

Covered skills

  • Creating and adjusting schedules

  • Interpreting data and applying logic to make decisions

  • Prioritizing and applying order based on a given set of rules

  • Analyzing textual and numerical information to draw conclusions

Use the Problem Solving test to hire

Any role that involves managing constantly shifting variables with tight deadlines. This may include administrative assistants, project managers, planners, and people working in hospitality or sales.

You can use this test for free when you sign up for a free plan

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About the Problem Solving test

Effective problem-solving requires a broad skill set that enables individuals, teams, and businesses to advance towards stated objectives. It involves the ability to define a problem, to break it down into manageable parts, to develop approaches to solve the (sub)problem using creativity and analytical thinking, and to execute flawlessly.

This problem solving test allows you to identify candidates who display these abilities. The test presents candidates with typical problem-solving scenarios like scheduling on the basis of a diverse set of conditions, identifying the right sequence of actions based on a number of business rules, and drawing conclusions based on textual and numerical information.

The test requires candidates to identify the right answers to the questions in a limited amount of time. Successful candidates can quickly identify the key elements of the problem and work through the problem at speed without making mistakes. This is a great test to include to check candidates' overall analytical skills.

The test is made by a subject-matter expert

Anirban C.

The global IT industry has benefited from Anirban’s talents for over two decades. With a flawless reputation that precedes him, Anirban has earned a status as a sought-after agile project manager and consultant. He’s worked internationally as a Senior Project Manager with companies such as Ericsson, IBM, and T-Mobile.

Anirban’s love for learning helps him keep his skills sharp. He holds an MBA and a degree in engineering, is a certified Scrum Master, and has certifications in Prince2 and ITIL.

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TestGorilla’s tests are created by subject matter experts. We assess potential subject-matter experts based on their knowledge, ability, and reputation. Before being published, each test is peer-reviewed by another expert, then calibrated using hundreds of test takers with relevant experience in the subject.

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View a sample report

The Problem Solving test will be included in a PDF report along with the other tests from your assessment. You can easily download and share this report with colleagues and candidates.

Why problem-solving is a crucial skill

We’ve all been thrown a curveball at work. An unexpected problem crops up and we need to make a plan to solve it. This is called problem-solving and it’s an important skill in most job roles because employees will encounter difficult or complex situations or problems that need to be solved.

Interestingly, unlike some career skills, problem-solving translates to both an individual’s personal and professional lives, making it crucial to potential success. But this may make it harder for recruiters to find the right candidate for a job where problem-solving skills are needed. In this case, a problem-solving test can help you find the best candidate capable of handling situations that influence business functions.

Problem-solving in the workplace

In business, problem-solving relies on a candidate’s ability to create processes that mitigate or remove obstacles that prevent the company from achieving its goals. Consequently, these issues or situations can create a gap between desired outcomes and actual results. This means that problem-solving plays an important role in how employees meet this challenge and work through it.

Roles such as project management, administrative assistance, and planning work with changing circumstances and tight deadlines on a day-to-day basis. When recruiting for these roles, finding candidates who have good problem-solving skills is crucial to their success in the role.

To gain insight into a candidate’s skill in this area, you can use a problem-solving test. Through expert formulation, a skill-specific test can help you understand a candidate’s level of proficiency. And testing your applicants before you start the interview process can highlight the candidates with the skills most relevant to the role.

A process-driven skill

In the workplace, there are important steps that can contribute to a candidate’s ability to successfully solve problems. Let’s take a look:

Identify the problem

Problem-solving begins with accurately identifying the problem. This determining factor looks at whether a candidate can find the origin and the implications of the problem. It includes:

• Differentiating between fact and opinion

• Compiling data to determine the problem

• Identifying underlying causes

• Recognizing which processes are affected• Pinpointing the process standard

By accurately identifying the problem, individuals can proceed to the next step to solve the problem.

Determine alternative solutions

Once an individual has established the source of the problem, they can determine alternative solutions. The goal of plotting solutions to the problem is to remedy it and realign it with business goals. A creative problem-solving test may identify whether an individual has the competency to determine solutions. Key competencies in seeking solutions include:

• Establishing alternative solutions that align with business goals

• Determining whether a problem needs short- or long-term solutions

• Evaluating how solutions may impact on resources; and determining if there are any barriers to implementing the solutions.

Although any problem can have multiple solutions, the simplest or fastest one may not always be the best course of action. This is where solution comparison comes into play.

Compare solutions and plot a course

Once all possible solutions are determined, it is important to compare them. This involves evaluating each solution without bias to determine the optimal solution to the problem.

Through the evaluation process, the individual should rule out options that do not align with company goals, may take too much time and/or resources, or are unrealistic in their approach.

Some considerations when determining the best solution include the likelihood of solution implementation, whether all parties involved will accept the solution, and how it fits in with business goals. Additionally, it is important to note that the goal of the optimal solution is to solve the problem without causing additional or unanticipated problems.

In essence, problem-solving is about finding solutions that cause as little disruption as possible and correcting a project’s course.

Implement the solution

The last stage in problem-solving is the implementation of the final step. This step focuses on the remedial solution and requires continuous evaluation to ensure its effective implementation. For you as a recruiter, knowing if a candidate can find a solution as well as implement it may be important to the goals of the role.

Continually evaluating the solution will give the individual insight into whether the project goals are aligned, whether all stakeholders accept the new solution and whether the outcomes are managed effectively.

Considerations for recruiters

When hiring for a role in which problem-solving skills are crucial, it may be beneficial to test a candidate’s ability to define problems and analyze data and textual information to make decisions that best serve the business. Some of the considerations for a problem-solving test include:

Creating and adjusting schedules

Schedules are living documents that need to adapt as eventualities come into play. Candidates should be able to understand what they can realistically achieve with the time and how to adjust schedules to account for variable outcomes.

Interpreting data and applying logic to make decisions

Data-driven decision-making should inform a course of action before an individual commits to it. For recruiters, this means candidates should have an aptitude for aligning data with business goals and making actionable decisions.

Prioritizing and applying order based on a given set of rules

By using prioritization rules and supporting information, candidates can determine which project tasks take priority. This system aims to optimize resources for project delivery.

Analyzing textual and numerical information to draw conclusions

Examining textual and numerical information to reveal patterns, relationships, and trends can tell the candidate what connection exists among variables. Conclusions can then be drawn from the data to gain an accurate assessment of the overall situation.

In summary

When broken down, problem-solving is a skill that relies on a variety of disciplines to achieve success. Although this skill is transferable to many job roles, determining candidates’ proficiency can be difficult, so it can be beneficial to recruiters to use a problem-solving test to review candidates’ aptitude when recruiting for a role.

Using a pre-formulated problem-solving test will enable you to quickly assess your candidates and help you recruit the best person for the role.

FAQs

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