How to Find and Hire Employees Who Can Think Critically

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have a need for employees who are able to think critically and make smart business decisions. Why does it seem like those people are increasingly rare and hard to find? How do you go about recruiting them and putting them to work for your company?

Let’s discuss viable strategies for finding critical thinkers and adding them to your team.

Hiring employees with critical thinking skills

Ask Interview Questions That Require Candidates to Demonstrate Their Critical Thinking Skills

It’s easy for job seekers to prepare scripted answers to the most frequently asked interview questions. If you want to get a valid idea of how candidates think, avoid asking the usual questions like “tell me about your greatest weakness” – a question that most applicants will have prepared a canned answer for.

Instead, ask questions that require the on-the-spot creative application of brainpower. The experts at Adecco USA suggest asking interview candidates off-the-wall questions such as “How would you approach the task of designing an emergency evacuation plan for San Francisco?”

This is a great question because there is no real right or wrong answer to it. The important thing will be for you to evaluate how each candidate organizes his or her thought process to arrive at a plan.

More to the point would be to think of similar thought-provoking interview questions that are relevant to your industry and perhaps even your immediate needs.

Apply Critical Thinking Assessments

Critical thinking assessments are becoming a big thing in numerous industries. In 2016, the World Economic Forum released a report on the future of jobs, in which they explain the likelihood that critical thinking skills will be one of the most important skill sets in the economy of the future.

Since then, many recruiters and employers have been giving thought to how to formally measure these skills. It’s notoriously challenging to do; but critical thinking assessments can help. The assessments focus on determining an applicant’s aptitude for problem-solving, reasoning, analysis and related skills.

Recruit MBA Graduates

MBA graduates from top programs have typically been forced to master critical thinking skills. For example, data-driven decision-making is one of the learning outcomes at James Cook University’s online MBA program; a candidate can’t graduate from the program without having been systematically exposed to opportunities to practice and perfect their critical thinking skills. Many MBA programs also incorporate case studies that encourage critical thinking into the curriculum.

Provide Your Own Training

Critical thinking skills can be taught. If you aren’t finding candidates who already possess the critical thinking skills you desire in your employees, you can train them to develop these skills.

Joel Garfinkle, who is a corporate trainer and executive coach, elaborates on 4 ways to do this in an article he wrote for LinkedIn. He suggests actively teaching a specific set of skills that critical thinking requires. These include gathering relevant information and evidence; analyzing this information in regard to the problem at hand; applying deductive reasoning; visualizing and articulating a plan of action; and predicting what the likeliest outcomes of that plan would be. Evaluating your own thinking is also an important component of the process.

These are several of the most effective known strategies for ensuring you’ll work with employees who have critical thinking skills. You can either recruit employees who have the necessary skills, or you can hire them and then train them to develop critical thinking skills.

Either way, it’s wise to be proactive about ensuring you have critical thinkers on your team. It’s one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your company will remain competitive in the marketplace of the future.


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