Technical skills can mean a lot of things–to be able to repair a computer, to assemble a piece of furniture in the room, to use some heavy tools such as pneumatic drillers, or even to write a piece of code in a programming language. Hiring managers can have a lot of things on their mind, and you should always opt for an example fitting for the job you try to get with the company. That means talking about a problem you can face in your new job, or at least one which helped you to learn some skill or process you can benefit from in your new job.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. I tried to include on my list example from different job fields, as well as answers for people who lack any previous working experience. You will find on my list also one or two unconventional answers, and I hope you will find at least one answer you can adjust and use in your upcoming interviews. Do not forget to read also the notes below the list of answers, for additional hints and explanations.
7 sample answers to “Describe a situation in which you’ve applied technical skills to solve a problem” interview question
- It happened to me just two weeks ago. My son bought some new furniture to his apartment, and asked me to come and help and assemble it, because, as it is always the case, it came disassembled to the smallest parts possible. But we faced one problem–the manual was incomplete, missing two pages. Hence I had to improvise, and use my imagination and years of technical experience to understand which screw went where, and how we should connect and glue different pieces together to make sure that we get the desired outcome. And I must tell you that I’ve enjoyed the process immensely. Because while it is nice to follow an easy guide and get the job done quickly, it is also good to strain your mental capacities once in a while, and see that you still have the skill to solve some technical issue on your own, without following the manuals.
- I’ve done that on a daily basis in my last job in technical support. People were calling me with problems with their devices, and more often than not, I tried to troubleshoot them distantly. Which is often more difficult as it seems, because they often cannot describe the problem properly, and may struggle to follow your instructions. But I had a success rate of 90%, which means that I managed to address nine out of ten tickets without a need to forward the issue to a senior technician. I believe that it demonstrates my technical skills, but also my excellent communication skills, because in desktop support you won’t succeed to do much without being able to communicate clearly the issue with the customer…
- I can remember a good example from my last corporate job. I was working on a technical aspect of a marketing campaign, trying to set the conversion tracking properly. But we’ve worked with different traffic sources and tracking pixels, and were using a new robust tracking software I’ve had no experience with. The software offered incredible customization and plenty of parameters, but it was difficult to set it up properly, or to even understand for the first time user. However, I benefited greatly from my skills with other tracking software and platforms, and eventually, after three days of testing and hard work, I set the system up properly, to track the conversions and a lot of details of the journey of each customer, which helped my employer immensely.
- I’ve demonstrated them just yesterday, repairing a flat screen TV back home. You know how they make the electronics nowadays, don’t you? Things are made to break after a couple of years, with manufactures inserting a “weak link” to each product, such as a weak battery, or a part that will wear out just after the warranty ends and cannot be replaced easily, and a typical customer won’t do it. With TV screens, the weak part is often the capacitor. And so instead of wasting $400 for a new TV set, I opened the old one, found the broken capacitor, found the same model online for $5, ordered two pieces, and replaced it back home few days later. The TV works again, and I am glad that I can benefit from my technical skills in real life situations, saving money along the way.
- I think that the best demonstration of my technical skills is the house I live in at the moment. I’ve built it on my own, with a bunch of friends, over two long summers. You know, it is not the easiest thing to do, and I didn’t study construction at school. But luckily you can find great tutorials for almost everything online. And when you have a technician in you, you will understand the instructions, and have a capacity to follow them, and make something happen. Without a doubt my house isn’t the most modern or the most beautiful house in the area. But I’ve built it with my own hands, which give me a sense of satisfaction, and also a confidence that I’ll do well working for your construction company.
- I’m yet to face such a problem in my short professional career. I mean, I’ve worked as a financial analyst up to this point, and though I faced plenty of problems and challenges in the job, they were not of a technical nature. Having said that, I believe to have a technician in me, someone who can solve tricky puzzles and who can thrive in the process. And that’s exactly why I am applying for a job or a process analyst with you, because in my view it is more technical than the job of a financial analyst. And I cannot wait to use my skills to solve some technical problems, and help you improve the productivity in the plant.
Show enthusiasm for dealing with problems
Obviously nobody likes problems. At the same time, however, problems and challenges help us grow, both as technicians and as people. It is when we face the unknown and have to dig deep to solve a problem when we learn the most, and become better in our field. And that’s exactly the attitude you should show in the interviews.
It doesn’t matter if you talk about repairing a TV set back home, or about solving a complicated programming puzzle in your last job. Show some pride and satisfaction in the process, and ensure them that you, at least somehow, enjoy applying your technical skills to solve difficult problems.
Bridge the situation with your job application, if you can
The best possible answer is the one in which you bridge your experience with solving a difficult problem, and the job you try to get in the interview. For example, you troubleshooted your own mobile phone back home and now you apply for a job in a place that specializes in troubleshooting phones, or other small electronic devices.
Or you’ve managed to build your own house (or at least you participated on the construction works), and now you try to get some job in construction, or design. The connection does not always have to be obvious to either you, or the interviewers, but you can always at least try to describe it in a way that they can see some connection.
And if it is not possible, you can at least say that you believe that your excellent technical skills and intelligence (which the example you narrated demonstrates) will help you to handle your new job, and the technical problems you will face as a part of it…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Describe your experience working in a fast-paced environment.
- Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to the problem.
- Tell us about a time when you had a simple solution to a complex problem.