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Does your business need more professionals who can discern a valid argument, question assumptions, think out of the box, or make valid observations from data? SMBs in every sector are seeking sharp, critical thinkers and problem solvers—people who combine their innate talents with enough practice to really make a difference in your organization.
You’re not alone in valuing these aptitudes as employment prerequisites. A new report from Questionmark, Modern Skills for 2022, identifies these skills among its ten most important in the future of work. Critical thinking is a challenging approach to acquiring knowledge; it’s about methodically connecting what you know to what is being learned. Problem solving is about leveraging critical thinking and creativity to find workable solutions. Incidentally, critical thinking and problem solving are core components of logic and general intelligence, and people with high aptitudes in these areas often have solid emotional perceptions and people skills as well.
When the pace of change keeps accelerating, when the working environment feels more disjointed, organizations need people who can make things work. Critical thinkers and problem solvers do just that: working with people around the globe, with difficult vendors and partners at home, stepping in when valuable leaders leave, and even by helping everyone around them get through the challenges of an ordinary day.
So how can you find these essential skills in your hiring process? Here are several ways to screen and filter through candidates:
Use your own experiences to create similar hypothetical scenarios, in which the candidate is a salesperson, an executive, a manager… pitching to a potential client or brainstorming in a meeting. How would they deal with pressure? How would they deal with difficult people or ethical challenges? How would they break through disagreements and stalemates to find workable solutions? Don’t limit your questions to the confines of the role; think expansively!
When you do conduct your interviews, allow 10-15 minutes more for each candidate. Critical thinkers and problem-solvers will need time to process your scenarios, to ask questions, and even to work through problems with their interviewers. They won’t make rash, hasty decisions; they will think out loud. The process of interviewing using hypothetical scenarios will train your interviewers to become more adept at identifying how critical thinkers and problem solvers present these skills. Businesses that routinely source and select the brightest minds develop an organizational capability that builds these qualities up in the workforce over time.
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About the Author