Measuring a candidate's critical thinking skills plays a key role. It can make the difference between choosing an employee who can adapt, solve problems and make good decisions, versus one who struggles with these skills.
We've prepared a set of critical thinking interview questions to help you identify the right person for the job.
1. Could you describe an instance where you had to make a decision without all the necessary information?
Asking this question allows you to assess a candidate's ability to think critically and make sound decisions when faced with incomplete information.
In many real-world scenarios, decisions need to be made based on limited or ambiguous data. By understanding how the candidate approached and resolved such a situation in the past, you can evaluate their analytical skills, problem-solving abilities, and ability to handle uncertainty.
2. Share a situation where your initial solution to a problem didn't work as expected. How did you handle it?
Asking this question allows you to evaluate a candidate's adaptability, resilience, and problem-solving approach in the face of unexpected outcomes.
It assesses their ability to recognize and learn from mistakes, adjust their strategies, and find alternative solutions.
3. Can you recall a time you solved a complex problem with a simple solution?
This question assesses a candidate's ability to simplify complex problems, think creatively, and find innovative solutions.
Candidates who can effectively communicate how they simplified a problem and achieved a successful outcome demonstrate critical thinking, resourcefulness, and an ability to think outside the box.
4. What was a thought-provoking book, article, or report you've recently read? Why?
Asking this question allows you to evaluate a candidate's intellectual curiosity, critical thinking abilities, and engagement with complex ideas.
It provides insights into their reading habits, interests, and their capacity to reflect on and apply concepts from their reading material.
5. Give an example of when you spotted a potential problem and took measures to stop it from escalating.
This question assesses a candidate's proactive thinking, problem-solving skills, and ability to take decisive action.
Their answer can demonstrate their critical thinking in terms of identifying potential issues, analyzing risks, and implementing preventative measures.
6. How do you gather the data necessary to make informed decisions?
This question allows you to assess a candidate's ability to collect and analyze relevant data before making decisions.
It demonstrates their critical thinking skills, information-gathering techniques, and their understanding of the importance of data-driven decision-making.
7. Describe a time when you had to persuade a team member or boss to accept an idea you had.
Asking this question helps you evaluate a candidate's persuasive and communication skills, as well as their ability to think critically to influence others.
You can gauge their capacity to articulate and present their ideas effectively, provide convincing arguments, and overcome resistance.
8. Explain a situation where you had to rethink a situation due to contrary evidence.
This question assesses a candidate's openness to new information, their ability to challenge their own assumptions, and their critical thinking skills.
Based on their answer, you can determine if a candidate is intellectually curious, adaptable, and willing to reconsider their positions when presented with conflicting information.
9. When have you had to present complex information? How did you ensure that the audience understood?
Asking this question allows you to assess a candidate's ability to analyze complex information, distill key points, and effectively communicate them to others.
A strong candidate will demonstrate their critical thinking skills in terms of organizing and presenting information in a clear and understandable manner.
10. Can you describe an instance where you had to analyze a significant amount of data?
This question gives candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking in terms of processing and synthesizing information to derive meaningful insights.
You can evaluate a candidate's ability to prioritize information, use appropriate tools or techniques for analysis, and draw relevant conclusions from the data.
11. Could you provide an example of a project that required strategic planning?
This question allows you to assess a candidate's ability to think strategically and plan for long-term goals.
Look for answers that demonstrate a candidate's capacity to analyze the broader context, set priorities, and align their actions with strategic objectives.
12. How have you dealt with situations that required critical thinking under pressure?
Asking this question helps you evaluate a candidate's ability to think critically and make sound decisions in high-pressure or time-sensitive situations.
Candidates need to showcase their ability to remain composed, assess information quickly, and consider multiple perspectives to arrive at effective solutions.
13. Discuss a time when you had to solve a problem by identifying its root cause rather than treating symptoms.
By sharing an example of when they successfully identified and resolved the root cause, candidates demonstrate their capacity to think critically, analyze complex situations, and devise effective solutions.
This question allows interviewers to assess the candidate's problem-solving approach, attention to detail, and ability to tackle challenges holistically rather than merely treating symptoms.
14. Tell me about a time when you worked on a project or problem that required heavy analytical thinking.
This question provides insights into the candidate's approach to analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities, which are vital in many roles that require decision-making, data analysis, and critical evaluation of information.
It helps you evaluate a candidate's ability to apply analytical techniques, think systematically, and make evidence-based decisions when confronted with complex projects or problems.
15. Name a situation in which you had to consider a broader perspective or wider context than you were used to.
This critical thinking interview question assesses the candidate's ability to think beyond their immediate frame of reference and consider broader perspectives and contexts.
It is particularly relevant in a professional setting where individuals need to navigate diverse perspectives, understand complex systems, and make informed decisions that account for multiple factors.
Is there another way to assess critical thinking skills?
To complement the interview process and ensure a more comprehensive assessment, employers should also consider incorporating psychometric tests.
These tests provide standardized assessments that measure a candidate's ability to analyze patterns, draw logical conclusions, and solve complex problems.
By combining interview questions with psychometric tests, employers can obtain a well-rounded evaluation of a candidate's critical thinking capabilities.
June 29, 2023
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