20 Critical Thinking Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

  • November 2, 2021

Critical thinking interview questions are great ways to assess how creatively and logically a candidate can solve problems.

Critical thinking is one of the most valuable qualities to look for when hiring new employees. Employees aren’t always going to have all of the information or data they need to solve a problem. Additionally, not every problem has an easy “black or white” solution. Employees are always going to need to be able to think outside of the box to solve difficult problems. So, how can we even begin to gauge a candidate’s critical thinking abilities? Critical thinking interview questions will do the trick. When used alongside Bryq’s cognitive skills assessment, these questions really help to separate the critical thinkers from the passive thinkers during the interview process.

What is Critical Thinking…and Why is it Important?

Critical thinking means being able to think reasonably without too much emotion or subjectivity. People who think critically try to push all of that aside when making decisions. Instead, these individuals rely on objectivity, reason, and logic to solve problems. These may be considered “soft skills”, but they are becoming more and more important in the global workforce. Some jobs might seem to require more critical thinking skills than others, but critical thinking skills will need to be utilized in every job role, no matter how straight-forward a job might seem.

Take, for instance, a cashier job. It might seem that the only responsibilities a cashier might have are scanning groceries and handling money. But what if there is a price discrepancy? What if the cashier notices that a customer might be stealing merchandise? What if the customer hands over a fake note? These are all possible situations in which a cashier will need to use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

20 Critical Thinking Interview Questions

Critical thinking skills can’t be assessed by reading resumes or looking at previous work experience. Asking a candidate open-ended questions that allow them to demonstrate their ability to think outside of the box and use logic to solve problems will give you a much better idea of how sharp a candidate’s creative thinking skills are. Even asking questions that seem like riddles are a great way to get your candidates thinking! You can also use the se questions to check for both hard and soft skills. Use the following 20 questions to see which of your candidates has both the brains and logic to stand out above the rest.  

Critical thinking interview questions are great ways to assess how creatively and logically a candidate can solve problems.

Tell us about a time where a project did not go as planned. What can be done to avoid a similar problem in the future?

Have you ever needed to make an important decision quickly?

Has there ever been a time where you needed to make a decision without knowing all of the details of a situation?

Imagine that you are the project manager of an important project. Two of your co-workers cannot get along and it is derailing the project. How do you go about solving this issue?

Have you ever had to convince your manager that your way of solving a problem was the best way? How did you go about convincing them that you were right?

Imagine that you come to work to see that you have been sent 1,000 emails overnight. If you only have time to answer 200 of them, how would you decide which 200 emails to respond to?

Have you ever foreseen a problem before it happened? What did you do to prevent this from happening?

A customer has come up to you with a problem while you are in the middle of talking to your manager about something very important. How would you react to this?

Describe the color green to somebody who is blind.

How would you go about putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle?

While in a meeting, your co-worker suggests a solution to a problem that you know will not work. Do you voice your concern to the team in the meeting?

Has there ever been a time when somebody suggested an idea to you that you had not considered? If so, what was your reaction to this?

What steps do you take when addressing a problem?

Describe a time when you noticed a problem at work and came up with a solution to fix it.

Have you ever had to adapt your work style for a manager? What adjustments did you make?

Tell us about a time when you set a lofty goal for yourself and achieved it. What steps did you take to make it happen?

What is the one thing you would change about your previous job? How would you go about making these changes?

Has there ever been a time when you were dealt with an unexpected situation at work that caused you to change your approach? Tell us how you handled it.

If your manager made a mistake on an important document, how would you go about addressing it?

Is it better to increase prices to gain profit or lower prices to make customers happy?

How to Assess Critical Thinking Skills

The answers to these critical thinking interview questions can and should vary across candidates. The more creative and thought-out the response is, the better the candidate should be able to solve complex problems. However, there are some common characteristics critical thinkers have that you can look for while assessing candidates.

Critical Thinkers Are Logical – they don’t let bias or their typical way of thinking get in the way of their decision-making. They can consider a situation from every angle and use logic to develop a solution to a problem.

Critical Thinkers Are Trustworthy – they make well-reasoned decisions based on fact and logic, not emotion. This means that they make decisions that you can trust. Additionally, they use problem-solving techniques without worrying much about the opinions of others.

Critical Thinkers Are Innovative – they are true innovators at heart. They look at problems from a different perspective. Additionally, critical thinkers offer fresh solutions to your company’s problems that you might not have thought of before.

Unexpected Answers

Candidates who possess critical thinking skills typically give creative solutions to problems. If a candidate gives a typical answer to a question or presents an obvious solution to a problem, they might lack critical thinking skills. Giving “black or white” answers suggests that these candidates don’t know how to think outside of the box. You should be looking for answers and solutions that are creative yet backed by logic.

Complete Answers

Some candidates might not give detailed answers to interview questions. Alternatively, some might not even answer your question at all. It’s important to note that many critical thinking interview questions don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers. When we ask questions, we are trying to figure out whether or not the candidate has the capacity to at least try to give a fully thought-out answer backed by logical reasoning that makes sense. If a candidate tells you that the sky is actually green and not blue while presenting logical explanations as to why, you have a critical thinker on your hands. A critical thinker will convince you of things based on logic.

Check Facts

In the answers the candidates gave you, did they search for more information before moving forward in their decision-making process? When solving problems, a critical thinker prefers to find out as much information as they can before making a final decision. Make sure your candidates are making decisions based on facts and not feelings.

Logical Reasoning

In their responses, do candidates use logical reasoning to solve the issues at hand? Or do they jump to conclusions and skip logic in favor of taking action right away? When interviewing candidates, seek out logical reasoning in their answers to determine if they are critical thinkers.

How Bryq Can Help

It’s obvious that looking for critical thinking skills in the interview process is important. Of course, interview questions are only as helpful as the tools you’re using alongside them to find future hires. Bryq’s talent assessment software helps you find the perfect candidate based on personality assessments and assessment questions made to test a candidate’s cognitive abilities and critical thinking skills . Our product is based on Industrial & Organizational Psychology and measures four distinct skills – numerical skills, logical reasoning, verbal skills, and attention to detail.

Hiring employees that possess critical thinking skills can benefit your company tremendously. These employees will offer new solutions to ongoing problems, innovative ideas to improve your processes, and will work hard to make sure things go smoothly. Using the critical thinking interview questions above in conjunction with Bryq’s talent assessment software is a surefire way to hire a team of critical thinkers who will get the job done.

Do you want to see our product live in action? We’d love to show you how the magic happens. Click here to book a demo with us today!

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Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers

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10 Critical Thinking Interview Questions That You Can Use

Wondering how to test a potential employee’s critical thinking abilities and rational decision-making skills? Look no further because, in this blog, we will give you a list of the top 10 critical thinking interview questions you can ask to quickly find the right candidate for your company. 

critical thinking interview questions

Some candidates may possess the necessary technical skills and expertise, but lack the emotional intelligence or critical thinking abilities to succeed. If you are looking to employ the right fit for your company, critical thinking interview questions should be an essential part of your interview process.

It must sound quite difficult to assess a candidate’s ability to analyze, evaluate and think independently. However, on the contrary, it’s not. A candidate’s logical reasoning skills can be effectively determined from the very beginning, with the right set of interview questions. 

The Importance Of Critical Thinking In The Workplace

Critical thinking is a thought process that allows a person to objectively evaluate and assess information using logic and reason, and to come up with rational responses. Therefore, the ability to utilize critical thinking and logical reasoning is a highly valued skill in the workplace. 

It is important that you hire employees who can provide sensible advice, well-thought-out solutions, and fair evaluations at every step of their employment. Critical thinkers are also considered to be active team players who take the time to process situations and work accordingly, in a way that benefits the entire office. 

Critical thinkers are known for their acute logic, strong emotional perception, and exceptional social skills in the workplace. When assigned a task at work, they meticulously envision a solution and its potential consequences and plan actions using out-of-the-box thinking.

Top Critical Thinking Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Candidate

critical thinking interview questions

You must be wondering which critical thinking questions are thought-provoking enough to separate the critical thinkers from the rest of the candidates. There are plenty of critical thinking interview questions to choose from, but to determine the perfect fit for your company, your questions must be relevant to the job role and the environment of your firm. Therefore, you need to tailor your interview questions to suit the nature of the job. 

Regardless, to help you kickstart your interview procedure, we bring you a detailed list of the top 10 critical thinking interview questions that you can use to quickly and effortlessly separate the most qualified candidates from the rest. 

1. Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years? 

This critical thinking interview question is probably one of the most popular ones that employers ask their potential employees. You will instantly be able to tell if the job candidate has long-term career goals and whether it aligns with your company long-term, based on their approach to this question. 

critical thinking interview questions

Their answer might also shed light on their dedication and loyalty towards their work and companies, and if they are planning to grow with your firm in the future. You should expect a realistic, rational answer that helps you determine the candidate’s interests, drive, ambitions, and expectations. 

2. How Would You Approach Important Decisions With Incomplete Information?

The way a candidate replies to this question will help you know whether he or she is capable of making good, rational decisions even when not given enough information. It will shed a light on the candidate’s abilities to work under pressure and take decisions despite limitations. The potential employee should be able to use logic and resourcefulness to come to a rational decision. 

3. How Do You Handle Disagreements Between Teammates?

The candidate should be able to evaluate opposing viewpoints and use them to form practical solutions. You should search for candidates who use their critical thinking to look into different perspectives of a situation and lead the team to better solutions with logical reasoning.

critical thinking interview questions

4. How Would You Present New Ideas To Your Team?

The nature of the job might require the employee to present new ideas or concepts or to the team and this type of question will help you understand whether he/she can effectively share information with others. You can test the candidate’s communication skills and influential behaviors to persuade others to follow them using proper reasoning and approach. 

5. What Is Your Thought Process For Split-second Decisions?

This is one of the top critical thinking interview questions that you must always ask your candidates because logical reasoning and decision-making are directly related. Candidates who have the ability to make smart, thoughtful decisions based on data and information, multiple perspectives, and anticipated outcomes should be considered for the job position. 

critical thinking interview questions

The potential employee should show signs that he will be able to take critical decisions under pressure and in challenging situations, while thoughtfully considering how his/her decision may impact the team and the company as a whole.  

6. How Do You Handle Someone Else’s Mistake At Work?

At times, the employee might have to correct the errors of his seniors at work and take responsibility. This critical thinking interview question will help you see whether the candidate has the skills to correct others’ mistakes as well as their own in an ethical manner. You can easily determine whether the interviewee would be able to handle a difficult and uncomfortable situation with an authority figure. 

7. How Would You Improve Your Relationship With A Dissatisfied Customer? 

There may be many possible answers to this particular question. Different candidates may approach this question with different perspectives. As an interviewer looking for the perfect fit employee for your firm, you need to look out for candidates who can logically explain their decision and get their idea through to you. 

8. How Would You React To Ideas Or Approaches If They Differ From Yours? 

It is important that the potential employee has the ability to consider new ideas and tactics while solving difficult problems. This type of question is helpful to understand how well of a team player the candidate will turn out to be in the future while working with different teams and members of your firm. 

9. Describe A Time When You Anticipated A Problem And Took Measures To Prevent It.

If a candidate can look at a given situation and anticipate potential challenges, you will be able to tell he has a good understanding and grasp of the job position or task at hand. This skill combines excellent observational and problem-solving abilities, both of which are essential to critical thinking.

10. Describe A Time When Your Work Was Criticized And How You Handled It.

Finally, with this important question, you will be able to get an insight into how the candidate reacts to constructive criticism under stressful situations. You should expect the applicant to be able to take suggestions with the correct attitude and the right levels of calmness. 

Analyze The Answers To Critical Thinking Questions To Select The Right Candidate

There is no right or wrong answer to the critical thinking interview questions mentioned above and can vary significantly among candidates. The more creative and thought-out the response is, the better the candidate should be able to solve complex problems. While carrying out your interview process, you should look for some common critical thinking characteristics to get to the right candidate for you. 

critical thinking interview questions

The candidates should be logical and analytical thinkers who will carefully analyze all perspectives and information while assessing a situation. The employees might not always have detailed plans or information, so look for candidates who strive to take a balanced approach and try to come up with fresh and innovative techniques to solve a problem. Look for candidates who give you complete answers to these critical thinking interview questions listed above, with unexpected answers by thinking outside the box. 

Bonus: How To Assess Candidates To Screen The Right Talent

Finding the right talent for your team can be challenging, especially when a single job posting draws a large number of qualified applicants. That is why, before making a hiring decision, you must examine candidates and test their talents. Take a look at our blog on how to assess job interview candidates to screen out using other methods along with critical thinking interview questions and select the right talent for your firm. 

critical thinking interview questions

If you find this blog helpful and plan to ask some of these critical thinking interview questions in the next interview you conduct at your firm, do let us know in the comments below. For more tips on recruitment and hiring, make sure to subscribe to our blog or join our friendly Facebook community to get all the latest updates.


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10 Problem Solving Interview Questions To Hire the Best Candidates

You can't account for every external factor that occurs, and there won't be a single person that can solve every problem. here, we’ll explore why problem-solving questions are crucial to your interview process and offer ten problem solving interview questions to help you hire the best candidate..

interview questions to gauge critical thinking skills

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No matter how perfect or well-thought-out a business plan sounds, unforeseen circumstances will always arise. You can't account for every external factor that occurs, and there won't be a single person that can solve every problem. For a company to be successful, you will need to hire a wide array of capable employees who can identify and resolve almost any issue. 

You'll have to employ interview problem solving questions that examine how a candidate solves problems during the interview process. Here, we’ll explore why problem solving questions are crucial to your interview process and offer ten problem solving interview questions to help you hire the best candidate.

What Are Problem Solving Interview Questions?

First, it's important to note what problem solving questions are and why they're essential.

Problem solving interview questions are thought provoking inquiries that analyze a candidate's ability to recognize unexpected complications and their process of solving them. This includes planning on multiple levels (having a plan A and a plan B), implementation, and execution. 

These types of questions specifically target an interviewee's critical thinking and creativity. By understanding how a person handles problems, you'll get a clearer idea of how they'll fit in the workplace.

Internally solving problems within a business structure is also vital to the synergy and prolonged survival of a company. If its workers can't discern or ignore problems, they will only worsen. 

You'll want to consider a prospective worker's problem-solving capabilities before hiring. 

It may be wise to research a more in-depth explanation of why problem-solving skills are critical when hiring in the workplace.

Tips For Using Problem Solving Questions To Screen Candidates

A big part of adequately gauging a candidate's abilities during the screening process is how you utilize interview questions about problem solving. 

Here are some helpful tips to optimize your interview questions for problem solving and make the most out of your time: 

Look Out For Generic Answers

Many resources help people practice interview responses by giving them generic answers to the standard problem solving interview questions based on "what employers want to hear."

You'll want to be on guard for these answers because they don't reflect a person's actual abilities and are easy to replicate. 

You'll want to ask questions drawing from a worker's personal experiences to combat this. Candidates who provide unique and genuine answers give more in-depth insights into their problem solving capacity. 

Ask Job Specific Questions

Different jobs have different problems. 

Asking a computer programmer how to treat a cramped muscle is the same as asking a fitness trainer how to solve an error in the HTML; you won't be getting any insights into their job-specific skills. 

Ask questions that are relevant to the interviewee’s potential position. Use common problems in that field and try to pertain to a specific theme. 

It's also a good idea to propose real problems at your workplace . Compare and contrast the candidate's solution to how your company resolved the issue. 

Their response may not be the same, but it could be vastly more effective than your resolution.

Ask Different Types of Problem Solving Questions

There are different categories of problems. Technical problem solving interview questions gain one perspective on a candidate’s skill set. A relationship problem solving question or a critical thinking problem solving question offers additional insight.

A technical problem might mean an error in the system or a malfunctioning piece of equipment. A candidate should be able to notice early signs of these problems (if applicable) and take action accordingly. 

They should also know when the situation is impossible for them to solve alone and that they should go to a higher authority for help.

A relationship problem is when there is a conflict between two or more employees. Teamwork is critical in some fields and a must for cumulative progress. 

HR can't resolve every little argument between workers, so it's often up to the individual to take action and compromise. 

Assessing a candidate's relationship problem solving ability is essential, especially in team-based environments. 

A critical thinking problem is a more complex problem requiring creativity and innovation to solve. 

There isn't a simple fix to these problems, and a person will have to get crafty to solve them. Management, organization, and unanticipated issues usually fall under this category and require the greatest attention to resolve. 

Give Candidates Multiple Opportunities To Relay Experiences

Keep in mind that not every exceptional employee is good at interviews. Some people panic and freeze up on the spot; it's a natural reaction.

If your screening process has multiple stages, you'll want to capitalize on this by assessing a candidate's problem solving abilities twice. There should be one time when they are asked unexpectedly and another when they have time to formulate their answer.  

By doing this, you won't miss out on highly qualified individuals who may not be the best at interviews, and you'll also get a better idea of each candidate's capabilities. 

Incorporate Team Related Problems

People cannot always solve problems on their own. A person shouldn't be entirely dependent on others, but they also have to be able to work on a team efficiently .

The way a candidate tackles team-related issues conveys their ability to get along with co-workers, leadership potential, and capacity for compromise.

People on different wavelengths are going to have other ideas and solutions. If no one can agree, then nothing is ever going to get done. You'll also have to consider a candidate's competence at evenly distributing work and versatility in the planning process. 

Yes, a person's solo problem solving capabilities are important, but their teamwork skills and communication are vital. Keep this in mind during the screening process.

Build Off of Interviewee Responses

Don't go through a repetitive hit-and-go questioning process. Once you ask a question, try to build on the candidate's response. 

This especially goes for questions that draw on a person's real-life experiences. You may have a limited time to ask your questions, but that doesn't mean you have to go through all of them.

Getting in-depth answers to a few questions will better look at a person's problem solving abilities and work ethic. 

If there's something you're curious about or something the candidate says piques your interest, speak up and try to pry as much as possible. 

10 Problem Solving Interview Questions To Hire the Best Candidate

Here are some excellent base questions to ask prospective employees. Each job is unique and encounters different issues, so you'll likely have to make some modifications to fit your case better.

Nonetheless, these are ten great problem solving interview questions that'll isolate the best candidates during the screening process:

1. What Is Your Approach To Problem Solving? 

One of the first things you'll want to assess in a candidate is their approach to solving problems. 

Using inefficient, unorganized, or reckless methods can be more detrimental than good, so be sure to comprehend a person's problem solving strategy deeply. 

Try to get them to relay the exact structure of their approach and have them explain their reasoning behind each step. Encourage your candidate to draw on past experiences and successes as well. 

The problem solving approach also includes a person's attitude towards an issue. Consider elements such as cautiousness, incentive, and reliance on external factors. 

2. How Do You Identify Potential Problems? 

Problems cannot be solved if they cannot be seen. 

Ask the candidate how they have identified different problems throughout their work and personal history. You'll also want to inquire about frequent issues in your business's workplace and common complaints. 

Don't just assess a candidate's ability to realize problems. The time it takes to identify a problem is equally important. Problems become more blatant the longer they are left untouched.

An excellent type of question to use here is a scenario question. Propose a simulated setting based on your company's environment and have them pinpoint the problem. 

3. How Do You Evaluate The Impact of Potential Problems? 

Another skill prospective employees need is the capacity for foresight. They should be able to evaluate the adverse effects of a particular issue. Otherwise, they'd be able to identify the problem but have no incentive to solve it. 

Try to ask questions relating to cause and effect. Ex: If [blank] occurs, then what will happen in the short term and the long run.

4. How Do You Prioritize Problems To Be Solved? 

A spilled drink likely won't require as much attention as a corporate-wide virus in the systems. 

Recognizing where issues lie and knowing how to distribute time can save large sums of money while avoiding catastrophic scenarios.

A candidate's prioritization of problems also indicates their decision-making and organization skills. 

To go further in-depth here, give a candidate a series of problems and have them rank them in the order in which they should be solved. 

5. How Do You Develop Solutions To Problems? 

Developing solutions is a prominent indicator of planning ability and intuitive thinking. Proposing unique problems will test an individual's creative process and reveal how flexible their logic is. 

If a person has a single set strategy for solving every problem, they'll eventually fail. You'll need to hire adaptable workers who can think outside of the box. 

There will never be a plan that accounts for everything.

You can modify this question to work with different problems, such as technical problems, relationship problems, and critical-thinking problems. Each of them necessitates a distinctive solution, so you'll inadvertently force a candidate to display their plasticity. 

6. How Do You Implement Solutions To Problems? 

Having a plan is one thing. Putting it into action is an entirely different matter. If you're familiar with the adage "easier said than done," you can probably infer the purpose of this question.

Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to test candidates firsthand on their ability to implement solutions to problems . The next best thing is closely scrutinizing their personal experiences. 

Ask about problems they have solved in the past. Inquire about what may have happened if their solution didn't work. 

For any theoretical scenarios, you propose, point out flaws in the candidate's plan of action and have them gauge the practicality of performing it.  

Be meticulous here and determine how viable their answers are. 

7. How Do You Evaluate The Effectiveness of Solutions? 

There should be multiple layers to a person's planning process. A candidate can't just propose a well-thought-out plan without evaluating its efficiency. 

The easiest or quickest solutions won't always be the most effective. Yes, simplicity and speed are crucial factors in evaluating effectiveness, but they aren't all-encompassing.

Candidates should also consider the resources used and the longevity of their solution. Identify "bandage fix" answers, and look for long-term results.

A candidate should exhibit the ability to compare the pros and cons of different solutions and determine which one will be the most effective. 

8. How Do You Learn From Problem Solving Experiences? 

Learning from past problems is essential for solving future ones.

A candidate's ability to draw from previous experiences will suggest their effectiveness at problem solving at your workplace.

You will want to hear about the successes of a candidate's problem solving endeavors and their utter failures. Have them relay their gravest mistakes and how they learned from those experiences.

Remember, while succeeding feels good, a person learns more from failure. If a candidate is confident enough to tell you about their most significant shortcoming, they've moved past it and will likely handle adversity more effectively. 

9. How Do You Handle A Situation Where a Colleague Made a Mistake?

It is almost always more comfortable to stay in your lane and mind your own business when it comes to working life. However, interacting with others is a crucial part of teamwork and creating an effective workplace environment.

This question gauges your candidate’s interpersonal skills. You would not like to hear your candidate slandering former colleagues or companies. 

Instead, a candidate's ability to exhibit diplomacy within the workplace is a far more desirable response. When people can work together well and solve problems, your business is more likely to run like a well-oiled machine.

10. How Have You Overcome Personal Weaknesses To Improve Work Performance?

When looking to gain insight into a candidate's self-awareness, this is a great leading question to get a conversation started. 

While self-awareness may seem more relevant to life outside of work, it procures growth in all aspects of a person’s life, leading to a more well-rounded employee. 

A promising candidate will be more than willing to acknowledge their weaknesses, using them as a tool to improve performance. Candidates' answer to this question will also gauge their willingness to learn and adjust to various fluid workplace elements. 

More examples of questions to identify Problem Solving skills

- Can you tell me about a time when you overcame a significant challenge?

- What is your problem solving process?

- When you have to solve a problem, what do you think is the most important thing to consider?

The Bottom Line

There will always be unaccounted problems in a company's business structure. There are no amount of preventive measures one can take to avoid them all; it's just not possible.

Hiring intuitive employees who can think broadly and resolve issues independently is essential to every company. This is why problem solving interview questions are so vital.

Evaluating this skill set in prospective candidates may require extra work but is ultimately worth it. 

Try this free problem solving advanced test if you're looking for a more in-depth evaluation of an applicant's problem solving abilities for your screening process.

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Why you need to ask these 7 questions to test soft skills during a job interview


Hiring a candidate with fitting technical skills is always on the top of a manager’s mind, but companies are increasingly giving a candidate’s soft skills greater consideration. Hiring managers should consider these tips while interviewing potential employees.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are qualities learned through one’s environment rather than during formal training. Communication, coachability, work ethic, time management, and critical thinking are all examples of soft skills.

How can you test a candidate’s soft skills during an interview?

There are multiple ways hiring managers can tell if a candidate has strong soft skills during an interview. First, hiring managers can observe the way a candidate communicates.

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Additionally, hiring managers can ask behavioral questions , which require candidates to provide stories from their professional career. Asking questions that demand an anecdote will give hiring managers with a better look into a candidate’s past experience.  Asking anecdotal questions also reveals soft skills, such as if candidates are able to think quickly on their feet.

Candidates can always claim that they are detail-oriented, but an anecdotal question demands an example that delivers evidence to back up that claim. If candidates can’t think of an example, chances are they actually haven’t been detail-oriented during their career.

Examples and explanations of questions that test soft skills

Q: Have you ever unintentionally offended or upset somebody? Can you describe the details?

Explanation: This question is ideal for testing a candidate’s emotional intelligence , according to  Jen Shirkani , an emotional intelligence expert. Answers will reveal if they have enough self-awareness to identify how their behavior affected others and if they have enough empathy to see the situation from someone else’s point of view. Additionally, the answer will give an insight into whether or not a candidate has strong enough social skills to admit mistakes and successfully work through conflict.

Q: Can you tell me about the last time you had to act and there was no formal procedure on how to do so?

Explanation: This question will test a candidate’s flexibility. According to Shirkani, answers will help you judge if a candidate is comfortable thinking quickly, making decisions and working independently.

Q: Can you describe the details of a time you were unfairly criticized?

Explanation: Shirkani explains that this is a great question to asses a candidate’s self-awareness . By including “unfairly,” you are able to assess the person’s ability to take criticism as well as his or her judgement about what is unfair.

Q: What was your relationship with the best boss you ever had ?

Explanation: This question will inspire the candidate to discuss a relationship they’ve had in the workplace, which gives the hiring manager a glimpse into future relationships, according to Rachel Karitis, the director of marketing at TransitScreen . The goal is to pull more specific answers from candidates, instead of simply hearing that they love feedback but don’t like to be micromanaged.

Q: Can you tell us about a time you took initiative on a project?

Explanation: Answers to this question reveal what type of employee a candidate will be. If a candidate can’t think of a response to this question, it suggests that they are more of a do-er, rather than an achiever.

“We’re looking for somebody who goes above and beyond, who has a growth mindset and is good at solving problems,” Karitis said.

Q: How do you approach a task that you’ve never done before?

Explanation: In a fast-paced office, there’s not always time to teach employees new skills. Employees that will do research and figure out a new task on their own are much more desirable, according to Karitis.

Q: What’s been the toughest criticism you received so far in your career? What did you do with it?

Explanation: These questions will let you know if the candidate took their job seriously enough to remember the criticism, according to Pearlie Oni, the senior manager of employee experience at RedPeg . In addition, the criticism points out their weakness, without making candidates admit their faults outright. A candidate with strong soft skills will round out the question by revealing how they took the criticism and improved their work.

How can you tell if a candidate has soft skills?

Hiring managers will be able to tell if a candidate has soft skills through the answers they provide to the above questions, but there are a few other factors that also come into play.

During an interview a candidate will express whether or not they have strong soft skills through their communication and body language . The way candidates deliver answers tells you about the strength of their soft skills. If a candidate pauses to think about a question before answering, it shows they actually want to provide a thoughtful answer, instead of rambling about an irrelevant topic.

If candidates deliver answers that don’t answer your questions, it shows  they prepared specific stories for the interview and aren’t able to think on their feet in order to provide a more fitting example.

Why is it important to hire employees with soft skills?

Hard skills, which are often learned in a formal education setting, are much easier to teach employees than soft skills, according to many hiring managers. While it’s not impossible to teach employees soft skills, many are linked to a person’s personality, which is a hard thing to alter by the time someone enters the workforce.

Denise Dudley , behavioral psychologist and founder of SkillPath Seminars , stresses that hiring for soft skills is crucial because this person will be contributing to the company culture .

“When somebody walks out of my office, I ask myself if are they somebody I would want to sit next to on an airplane for three hours,” Dudley said.

How a candidate behaves during an interview is also the first indication of how they will behave once they are hired. In fact, Oni points out that you’re seeing a candidate’s best during an interview, since he or she is actively trying to impress you.

“On a day to day basis, they will probably be operating at 80 to 90 percent of what you saw in their interview,” Oni said.

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