Top Critical Thinking Interview Questions (Sample Answers)
Critical thinking interview questions are an essential part of the interview process if you're trying to fill a position that demands accurate and reasonable decision-making abilities.
Because it's not always easy to judge, many hiring supervisors ignore this concealed job necessity and talent. Some applicants may possess the necessary technical skills and expertise but lack emotional intelligence or critical thinking abilities.
That's where interview questions for evaluating problem-solving abilities might help.
What is the definition of critical thinking?
Critical thinking is a mental process that enables a person to objectively examine and appraise information and compute answers and make decisions. Critical thinking is comparable to hasty, reactionary cognitive processes that produce solely emotional responses.
People with critical thinking abilities are highly regarded in the job because they often give sensible counsel, well-thought-out solutions, and fair evaluations.
It's difficult to tell how good a candidate's critical thinking abilities are unless you expressly ask about them during the interview. One of the tools available to hiring managers to judge how a candidate will handle unusual scenarios on the job is critical thinking interview questions.
Tailor interview questions to critical thinking
There are many different sorts of interview questions to choose from, but your questions must be relevant to your firm's role and culture. If the job demands you to make critical judgments on a technical level, the questions should get tailored around that competence. Focus on people skills if the position needs critical thinking about people (clients or employees).
There's a tendency among interviewers to offer brainteaser questions to gauge a candidate's response but don't do it. It's a waste of time! "Andy is the youngest of three children," for example. Rudy and April are her sisters' names. "What is the third child's name?" is entirely pointless.
It speaks nothing about a candidate's critical thinking talents or anything else whether they accurately respond "Andy" or remark "probably April."
You may cause a candidate to doubt your sincerity, in addition to making them feel confused and uncomfortable.
Plan every phase of the process
Before the interviews begin, plan every phase of the recruitment process. If a position requires rational decision-making, the recruiting team should create a list of critical thinking interview questions rather than simply the hiring manager. Different thoughts and perspectives on the same role and its needs can be accommodated through collaborative thinking and inclusive employee recruiting.
These questions aren't meant to be simple. Questions should provoke thought. Make the candidate consider how they would respond and react in various complex scenarios. You're not seeking correct or incorrect answers or solutions. Instead of assessing the candidate's ability, you're evaluating their response.
Almost every department has roles that significantly influence the results of other team members, customers, production, sales, your company's brand, and so on. These occupations need highly developed critical thinking abilities.
When developing your list of interview questions, think beyond the job requirements regarding talents and experience. Examine the effects of impaired decision-making in this function on current employees, customers, your brand, and your company as a whole.
You may begin building your list of questions once you've identified the areas of influence associated with the function. The question examples are divided into two categories: technical occupations and roles that need human abilities. It's possible that your job opening is a mix of the two. Because each position and firm are unique, there can never be a template for critical thinking interview questions, so consider them a starting point.
Interview questions that challenge critical thinking skills
Use these critical thinking questions to assess critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills.
- What would you do if you had a project/production deadline approaching but didn't yet have all of the necessary information/components to meet it?
- What would you do if you've found a more efficient or cost-effective solution to an issue, but your boss doesn't comprehend it?
- How would you tackle a situation with a weak link in your team or supply chain affecting productivity?
- What would you do if a client or boss tried to rush a project to completion at the expense of other projects with definite deadlines?
- When you're working with a group of professionals, it's easy to uncover disagreements about how projects should go. How do you agree?
- Have you ever had to persuade a boss to adopt an alternative approach to a problem?
- What would you do if a coworker gave you a new or unusual idea that wasn't in line with the company vision?
- How would you provide rational advice to someone sensitive to feedback?
Interview questions for soft skills that require critical thinking
Determine a candidate's critical thinking skills through these questions:
- A consumer is enraged because an order didn't get delivered on time. They want you to cancel the order and close their account immediately. How would you fix the problem while keeping the customer?
- Since business has stalled, you're in the middle of a sales brainstorming session. Someone recommends decreasing pricing and putting a greater emphasis on customer service. How do you feel about it?
- You have an employee who is excellent at their job but is rude and aggressive with their coworkers, generating problems in your department. What are your plans for resolving the situation?
- You're in a meeting with your boss, and they misquote a price or a process that might have a significant influence on your department or project. So, what exactly do you do?
- When you're under pressure, you realize that your boss (or a coworker) is prone to shifting blame and refusing to accept responsibility. What is your approach to the topic?
- What would you do if you had to make a decision based on insufficient information?
- What would you do if you and your coworkers couldn't agree on proceeding with a project?
- When it comes to critical thinking interview questions, what do you look for?
- You'll see that the concerns described above are pretty broad, with no right or wrong response or result.
Use hypothetical scenarios to describe ideal reactions to complex situations. There are no wrong answers in these scenarios—only a determination of the applicant's job skills.
Considering the response
The way the applicant replies is what you're looking for. Each question is a hypothetical circumstance that, if not handled appropriately, may turn into a significant problem.
Because persons with developed critical thinking process information before reacting or responding. People with strong emotional intelligence and well-developed essential abilities of critical thinking will not offer you a standard response. When confronted with a difficult circumstance, their critical thinking kicks in, and they'll most likely ask you some questions to have a better understanding. Don't be shocked if you get an initial answer of "I'll have to think about that..."
People who don't ask for additional information and don't ponder before reacting typically lack analytical abilities. They're also more prone to make rash, emotional decisions.
Interview questions for critical thinking with example responses
Here are ten frequent interview questions and sample responses targeted at evaluating your critical-thinking abilities:
Tell me about a moment when you had to persuade your boss or team to take a different approach to an issue.
Interviewers will assess your critical thinking abilities by seeing if you can make rational conclusions and then convey your reasons to persuade others to follow you. They're looking for persuasive behaviors like using statistics to generate trust in your judgment rather than supporting a concept based on feelings or beliefs. When replying, give an example of a time when you could persuade someone using evidence to support your argument.
"I used to have to search a business database for information and prepare a spreadsheet with the findings regularly at my former employment. This was formerly a laborious procedure, but I found a method to automate it. I explained the application we'd need to utilize and demonstrated how the process worked to my boss when I proposed this new method. I explained how automating this process will save us time and focus on other essential responsibilities.
They implemented this idea since I had statistics to back up my recommendation. Our team's workflow became more efficient and streamlined as a consequence of this modification."
Tell me about an instance when you had to make a rapid choice.
Interviewers are interested in seeing how you make decisions under duress. The capacity to utilize logic and reasoning to make the best decision, especially when time is limited, indicates excellent critical thinking. Provide an example of a case in which a timely choice resulted in a beneficial outcome.
"My boss had to leave the workplace an hour before a scheduled presentation one time. We didn't want to cancel the meeting with our clients, so we just had a few hours to figure out who would take over the presentation. We decided I was the best candidate since I spent so much time preparing with my manager and had the most knowledge of the points they wanted to convey.
Our presentation wowed the clients, who eventually approved our bid. We also enlisted the services of another manager who was more knowledgeable with these kinds of discussions to assist me and answer client inquiries. My boss was so impressed with our quick thinking and achievements that he began to entrust me with future customer presentations."
What would you do if you discovered an inaccuracy in a report or presentation prepared by your boss?
Interviewers want to see how you manage a potentially awkward scenario with a higher-ranking official. Explain what action you would take in response to this question, as well as the thought process that led to your conclusion. Your answer should demonstrate to the potential employer that you can take a professional approach.
"I would wait until I could speak with my boss personally if I observed a problem in their work. I'd then show them the error and offer to assist them in correcting it. Having a chat in private demonstrates my respect for my supervisor and their authority. My prior bosses admired my forthrightness, and my last boss even had me give a final review of all their produced paperwork."
Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision at work.
Interviewers use this question to see if you have any expertise in making judgments under challenging situations. Your response should show how you reasoned about a tough decision, including how you utilized critical-thinking abilities to weigh your alternatives and the best solution.
"At my previous employment, I assisted in implementing a new learning platform for a specific department. We visited with five suppliers to discuss online training, but it was up to me to make the ultimate selection. I evaluated the five vendors to requirements relating to our budget and our learners' needs. I also polled our stakeholders, who attended vendor meetings and examined their material, to see which they preferred.
I went with the provider that satisfied all of our standards and was well-liked by the stakeholders. As a consequence, our learners' productivity increased significantly, and we got great comments on their training experiences."
How would you respond if a coworker presented you with a novel or uncommon idea?
Open-mindedness is one of the essential aspects of critical thinking. Provide a concrete example from your experience to demonstrate your capacity to explore fresh ideas to enhance procedures or solve complex situations. Include how this open-mindedness benefitted you and your job in your response.
"When I was working on a project with a coworker, they advised that I take a completely different strategy than I typically did. I asked them to walk me through their strategy and explain how it had previously worked for them. We chose to follow their technique because their recommended steps appeared easier than mine. As a consequence, we completed the assignment considerably faster than I typically do, and I discovered a new preferred method for doing comparable tasks."
How would you resolve a team disagreement over how to tackle a project?
By assessing competing ideas and applying them to generate feasible solutions, you may improve your critical thinking skills. Examining several aspects of an issue can help you better understand the situation, which can lead to better solutions. Demonstrate to the interviewers that you can make judgments that are in the best interests of your team.
"I urge everyone to submit their concept and the reasons behind it in a team context where there are competing perspectives. Rather than following the crowd, I make the team look at the data or reasoning to see which option is better for our requirements. For example, I was in a team where we couldn't agree on how often we should meet to discuss project status updates.
The majority preferred weekly meetings initially, but a few folks insisted on brief, daily check-ins. Our group decided that a daily 15-minute meeting would be more effective in keeping us on track after hearing the reasons behind these proposals. Because the regular check-ins made us accountable for our duties, we discovered that this method did not take time away from our responsibilities and helped us accomplish the job sooner."
Have you ever foreseen issues and devised strategies to prevent them?
Possible employers are looking to see if you can analyze a scenario and foresee potential problems. This talent combines excellent observational and problem-solving abilities, both of which are necessary for critical thinking. Your response should demonstrate that you can anticipate issues and rationally establish solutions before they occur.
"In my former position, I was in charge of staff scheduling. I was aware that scheduling was more difficult over the holidays. To overcome this, I created protocols for requesting time off during that specific period, allowing me to plan ahead of time. I also established a program that taught employees how to fulfill the obligations of various professions, allowing for flexibility in the case of unexpected absences. As a result of these modifications, I had a strategy for dealing with scheduling issues. Our staff felt prepared, and we were able to prevent any interruptions in work."
When you don't know all of the facts, how do you go about making a decision?
Interviewers are frequently interested in seeing how you think within particular constraints. Your response should demonstrate how you used logic and ingenuity to reach a sensible conclusion. Focus on the mental process rather than the results when providing an example in your response.
"When making judgments, I like to have as much information as possible, while I recognize that this is not always possible. In this case, I would try to gather as much information as possible and then utilize context to fill in any gaps.
I once had a query concerning a customer proposal. Because my supervisor was unavailable, I looked over the client's creative brief for ideas. I was able to find a feasible solution to my problem because of the information supplied in brief. When I gave my presentation, I felt confident in what I had prepared, and the customer only requested a few minor revisions."
How do you know when you need support from others while fixing an issue or finishing a task?
Potential employers may inquire about your capacity to request assistance from coworkers since this demonstrates that you can behave wisely to get the best results. Give an example of when you required assistance, how you arrived at your conclusion, and how it helped you.
"In the past, I've discovered that some situations necessitate the assistance of others. This is a choice I'll make when I realize a task is too big for me to do alone or when I need multiple perspectives on a problem to find a solution.
I committed to writing a report for an internal customer with a tight deadline last year. As I worked on this report, I realized I wouldn't finish it in the allotted time, so I contacted a coworker for assistance. We finished the report on time with their aid, and the final product was far better than if I had raced to do it on my own."
How would you handle a scenario in which a coworker doesn't grasp your method or solution?
In this case, you should talk about how you would account for different learning styles to communicate effectively with the other individual.
"When I realize a colleague is having difficulty comprehending what I'm saying, I take a breath and ask how they're doing so far. This allows me to figure out where they were perplexed. Now I have a new foundation to build their knowledge, and I can tailor my explanation to their specific requirements. Depending on the type of learner, I may need to utilize visual aids or examples to convey the material, or I may need to use less technical terminology.
Because I understand that not everyone processes information or instruction in the same manner, I typically attempt to prepare a few different explanations approaches ahead of time. That way, if they require visual help, for example, I will already have one on hand."
There are eight advantages of being a critical thinker.
The following abilities get shared by critical thinkers who are capable of making impartial and fair judgments:
- They have honed their analytical talents by thoroughly analyzing circumstances.
- They have good reasoning abilities since they think logically and based on facts.
- They have a strong emotional sense and can distinguish between the truth and the lie.
- Social experience: They pursue more study or rely on previous experiences as a guide. They adhere to well-established guidelines and avoid prejudice.
- They discriminate between variances and perform comparisons in comparative analysis.
- Solution-oriented thinking entails imagining a solution and its possible outcomes.
- Calculating actions: They weigh the pros and cons of their decisions and take decisive action.
- They use creative thinking to turn a poor circumstance into a favorable one.
People with well-developed critical-thinking abilities can approach a situation and resolve it in the best way possible, whether they have to think on their feet or address long-standing issues. They also have no qualms about making difficult decisions if they are in the firm's best interests or the people concerned. Depending on their skill level, this process may be lengthy, evolving as the issue unfolds, or it may be swift.
Critical thinking interview questions for project managers
- Tell me about a time you had to manage a project where it was over budget.
- Explain to me how you would handle a situation where a client was unhappy with the final product.
- Tell me about a time when your team wasn't motivated and you had to motivate them.
Critical thinking interview questions for nurses
- Tell me about a time when a patient was in pain and the medical staff was unavailable. What did you have to do?
- How would you handle a family that wasn't happy with treatment?
- If you're describing your patient's issues without the physician, how would you answer a question you didn't know?
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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