Virginia Tech™home

Develop Your Creativity & Problem-solving Competency

Employer quote: "Our new employees must...

be equipped with problem solving skills that enable them to be productive with little guidance or supervision. Creativity is key for solutions that are better than the competition’s.”

Creativity and problem-solving competency:

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, synthesize information, make decisions and solve problems. The ability to think critically and strategically to develop original ideas and innovative solutions.

Ways to develop creativity and problem-solving skills:

  • Develop an action plan with specific steps to solve a problem.
  • Brainstorm solutions to a problem before bringing it to a supervisor/professor.
  • Activate your mind — read, do puzzles, write, etc.

Reflection questions:

  1. Tell me about a difficult problem or challenge you have faced recently.  How did you approach the problem and what strategies did you use to solve it?
  2. If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer? 
  3. Identify a time when you were working toward a goal that required a change to your planned course of action at the last minute?

Practice interview questions:

  1.  What does “creative” mean to you?  Would you consider yourself creative?
  2. What input do you need in order to make a decision? Describe a time when you had to solve a problem for which there appeared to be no obvious or immediate answer.
  3. Please describe a time in which you found yourself working in an ambiguous or unstructured situation.  How did you approach the task at hand?