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Career Advice: Being a Problem-Solver

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Tell me about a time you failed
What would a problem-solver do in this situation?

Tell me about a time you failed

One of my favorite job interview requests is, “Tell me about a time you failed.” The reason why I like it is because it’s designed to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities. A strong way to answer is to focus less on the failure itself, and instead, focus on how you prevented it from happening again, or what you learned from it. That’s the way a problem-solver would handle that.

What would a problem-solver do in this situation?

Right now, we’re facing many challenges in the job market. There are many things happening that are out of our control. Ask yourself, “What would a problem-solver do in this situation?” The short answer is: Focus on what you CAN control, plan ahead and take the opportunity to develop your skills

Here are some ideas to help you with this.

Build a strong LinkedIn profile

Professional networking is a fantastic way to find the job you actually want, but remember this: The worst time to start building your network is when you really need it. There will come a time when hiring will start to pick up again. By using LinkedIn, you can work your way into the “hidden job market” and learn about many opportunities long before they’re posted anywhere else. Search hashtags, follow recruiters, connect with UTD alumni and research companies to see if they’re doing any kind of virtual sessions.

Don’t be afraid to post content! The more you use LinkedIn, the more others will want to connect with you.

Finally, start some conversations. A quick introduction may lead to an informational interview and a strong professional connection that can help you out when hiring picks up again. Need some help? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Practice your video interview skills

Whether you like being on camera or not, having a video interview for internships and full-time jobs is inevitable. This technology has been around for a while now, but as you can imagine, more companies have tapped into it to find strong talent. The JSOM Career Management Center puts on a workshop called “Be Camera Ready for Your Video Interview” that discusses best practices for being successful with this type of platform. Chances are, you have experience already from chatting with friends and family over FaceTime/Skype.

There’s a great tool that you can use to simulate a real video interview on the UT Dallas Interviewstream account.

Keep checking Handshake at for more professional development workshops. Don’t forget that the JSOM CMC is also here for you through virtual appointments which can be scheduled in Handshake.

Search for resources that will help build your professional skills 

A few popular websites for this are Coursera and Udemy. As a UTD student, you have free access to Lynda LinkedIn Learning. Use this time to be productive!

Reconnect with something that you put aside

I always hear friends and family say, “I really wish I could do this … or that.” Stop wishing, especially if it’s something that just takes a little motivation to start up again! Learn that language that fascinates you; pick up that instrument that you never had time for; write that book that’s been floating around in your head for years. Whatever it may be, this can be the time when you finally make it happen. Remember – you are your own worst critic. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from making great things happen.

Problem-solvers are successful because they see through the storm, pick out the opportunities and act on the things they are in control of. Get used to that way of thinking now. It’ll take you far through the rest of your career.

Jason Cirilo

Jason Cirilo

Jason Cirilo is a career development specialist and lecturer in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas at Dallas. He serves students through classroom instruction, workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions in order to share his knowledge of corporate recruiting strategy and professional development.

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