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by Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio | August 06, 2009


I’ve run staffing groups at Fortune 500 firms for almost 25years and now I’m a career coach and train individuals on how to have the bestjob search process possible.  Oftentimes, I help them map out what their top strengths are, and what areas theyare looking to develop, because this is a top question that is often asked inan interview.

So the pre-work is very important if you are going to answerthis question effectively.  Isuggest individuals list their top 10 strengths, and in the column next to eachstrength, list an example of how the excel at this, and in another column, ensurethe example is quantified.

One strength you may have is creative problem solving asit’s a characteristic that is greatly valued by any company.  Let’s face it - business is all aboutsolving problems and coming up with creative solutions.  The more creative you are the moresuccessful you will be.  Thisapplies to any disciple: marketing, finance, human resources, the law, operations, and the listgoes on and on. 

Here are some examples of creative problem solving:

1.     Youwere tasked with creating a new technology tracking system for newaccounts.  Your boss gives you a 2month timeframe and tells you that you are the lead project manager. 

o   Acreative move could be to find someone else in the company who worked with thetechnology group and ask them to be an “advisor” to save time and money thatthey perhaps wasted because they didn’t know any better.

o    Also  – if you had a friend who worked at another company who hada similar program, perhaps they could share it with you … as long as it didn’tviolate any confidential or privileged info.   

2.     Youare tasked with creating a new campus recruiting brochure at your company.  You have to decide what “hot” colorsare in and have no budget to hold focus groups or do market research.

o   Youcould visit the closest Gap store and check out their color arrangements.  Gap pours tons and tons of marketingdollars into the latest colors and this could appeal to your exact demographic.

3.     Yourmanager asks you to significantly decrease the error rates on the opening ofnew accounts:

o   Acreative move could include doing some research on how errors aredecreased:  both on the web, andperhaps at Barnes & Nobles. There’s a book about everything!

o   Youcould also do a survey of the new account opening reps and ask for the last 100issues with new accounts, and create a short but succinct error analysis.

During an interview, it’s important to highlight whatcreative moves you made and what the result was.  For example, the new brochure perhaps gave you strongaccolades from your new recruits. Your approach to decreasing errors on new accounts decreased errors by25%.  And, your new technologyprogram came in under budget, on time and the users are raving about how easyit is to use and how helpful the info is.

Remember during your interview to identify these successstrategies and use them to “ease the pain” of the employer you are interviewingwith.  Remember, it’s always aboutwhat you can do for them … so be confident about your background, and be clearin your explanations…and quantify EVERYTHING!

ConnieThanasoulis-Cerrachio is the co-founder of SixFigureStart(, a career coaching firm that partners with individualsthrough every stage of their job search.  


Filed Under: Job Search

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