What are analytical thinking interview questions? And how can you ask behavioural-based interview questions to determine which candidates have the best analytical thinking?

In this blog post, we will highlight why you should hire talent who are able to think analytically. We will then discuss different analytical thinking interview questions and how to recognise this skill in candidate answers.

What are analytical thinking skills?

Analytical thinking is a combination of critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving. Analytical thinkers are able to easily break down a complex problem, critically think of solutions to the problem, and then make a best scenario decision.

Analytical skills allow you to be able to problem-solve both simple and complex problems. When someone is a great analytical thinker they can quickly analyze a situation, critically think over complex issues, research effectively, make decisions and reach solutions.

Benefits of analytical thinking skills in the workplace

Successful organisations have analytical thinkers. Analytical thinkers are fundamental within a great team as they are able to bring a certain set of skills that can propel an organisation in the right direction.

The benefits to your organisation are:

  • Complex problems can be identified
  • Multiple solutions can be sought to problems
  • Complex problems can be critically thought about and solved
  • Effective communication between team members
  • Developing unique perspectives on challenges
  • Successful data analysis and research

Analytical thinking is especially important in managerial roles.

Managers who can analytically think are able to make those large decisions that have far-reaching repercussions. Managers with these skills are successfully able to:

  • Keep costs low
  • Plan and implement strategies
  • Successfully delegate tasks to subordinates
  • Anticipate problems before they arise
  • Build a well-qualified team and keep turnover low
  • Efficient communication process between the teams

Business strategists who can critically think are able to successfully predict the supply and demand for their business and gauge how well they will perform in the market. While also successfully managing budgets and staying on target.

Analytical thinkers will be able to:

Pay special attention to detail

Analytical thinkers have the ability to notice, retain and track details, which gives them the ability to pay special attention to detail. This means that mistakes can be avoided, instructions can be followed with ease, and they can think critically and carefully evaluate complex issues.

Make decisions with ease

Analytical thinkers can confidently make decisions no matter how big or small. This is due to them being able to successfully evaluate situations by analysing the pros and cons and predicting correctly which path would be the best outcome for a problem.

Pragmatic decision maker

An analytical thinker will be more pragmatic and logical in their decision making. All decisions are backed up with data, research, and hard facts. Very few critical thinkers will make impulse decisions for the business based on a hunch or a feeling.

They are very good at analysing data and information as well as conducting thorough research.

Problem solver

Using all of the above skills mentioned it enables analytical thinkers to be great problem solvers.

Example analytical thinking interview questions

When interviewing candidates, it’s important you include some analytical thinking interview questions.

These questions should aim to help you determine:

Your interview questions should include analytical thinking assessments.

They should make the candidates self-reflect and be challenging enough to make them feel uneasy. This will separate the wheat from the chaff and give insight into how they’ll face difficult situations in the role.

When asking analytical thinking interview questions you should look beyond the job skills and experience. Analytical thinking is about how someone assesses the impact of their decisions and actions.

The best way to discover whether your candidates are great analytical thinkers is to ask behavioural-based interview questions. 

This is especially important for positions such as Marketing Strategist, Business Analyst, Operations Manager, Investment Analyst and Finance.

Behavioural-based interview questions focus on getting candidates to use their personal real-life experiences to answer interview questions. We write about behavioural-based interview questions in more depth here.

How to assess analytical thinking interview questions and answers

When asking your candidates analytical thinking interview questions, you should invent hypothetical scenarios that can be related and unrelated to the role to discover your candidate’s thinking process.

When asking these questions give your candidates enough time to answer. They’ll need to think on their feet and use experiences in their life to relate appropriately into the question.

Let’s Look at some example analytical thinking interview questions to get you started! Obviously some of these questions are tailored to tech specific roles, but they’re just here as a general guideline. Choose the questions that best apply to your vacancy you’re filling.

  1. Tell me about a time when you’ve needed to text new ideas?
  2. Tell me about a time when you solved an unforeseen problem, how did you rectify the situation?
  3. Describe a time when you didn’t have all the necessary information to solve a problem. What did you do?
  4. How do you weigh up information to make a decision?
  5. Describe a time when you’ve had to choose between multiple options, how did you decide?
  6. Describe step-by-step your problem solving process.
  7. Describe a time when you’ve had to carry out thorough research to a problem.
  8.  Tell me about a time when your analysis of a problem was incorrect. How did you resolve the issue? Or what would you do differently next time?
  9. Describe a time you discover a more efficient process of working.
  10. Tell me of a time you were able to think outside of the box to keep costs low while staying on track for a project.
  11. Describe a time when you were able to prioritise multiple projects with deadlines. 
  12. Imagine if your team member has a solution to a problem, but your manager has a different approach. How would you handle helping your friend if they came for your advice?

Assessing candidates answers to analytical thinking interview questions

  1. When assessing candidates’ answers you need to look out for candidates who can prioritise the important information and ignore the irrelevant information. This is a great tip as highly analytical people are often associated with losing the bigger picture.
  2. Candidates who are able to give examples of where they have faced a multi approach to solving a problem are able to multi layered analytically think.
  1. Candidates who will easily admit their past failures, but turn this around with a learning experience show that they are pragmatic and not easily phased. They are determined to be successful and take advantage of learning curves to improve future behaviour.
  1. Candidates who ask for more details or follow-up questions are showing their critical thinking skills. There are no presumed facts, solutions are detailed and decisions are based on true facts. Failure to ask for clarification or more information could be a warning sign that they may overlook important details when faced with a challenge. 
  1. Candidates who are great analytical thinkers need also to be successful communicators- especially in managerial roles or sharing ideas with other team members. This is especially true if technical details need to be explained in layman’s terms to the wider teams.
  1. Candidates who describe themselves as highly analytical, organised and pay attention to detail have to be able to back up this claim in their behavioural-based answers. They should have able examples to recall to answer your questions.
  1. You should try to identify when candidates are revealing solutions to their problems. What steps do they take? How do they identify barriers? How do they achieve their goals?
  1. You should also be able to determine how your candidates are able to envision solutions and present these within fact-based judgements.

What to look for in an analytical thinking candidate?

By now you should see the importance of hiring analytical thinkers in your organisation.

When assessing the abilities of analytical thinking in candidates you should include analytical thinking interview questions to truly understand your candidates approach and ability to solve your businesses problems logically and responsibly.

Be sure to truly test your candidates.

The Interview is your opportunity to find out not only if your candidate can identify problems, but how they solve them, analyse their data, select the most important, implement findings into the project and communicate this back to the wider team.

Strong candidates will make you feel confident and trust in their abilities. This will especially shine through when candidates are answering their real-life experience behavioural-based questions.

Good luck on your recruitment journey. If you want to know more about the type of interview questions you can include in your interviews see our last post on Drive for Results interview questions.

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