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Why you should test candidates’ analytical skills
Analytical skills refer to the ability to gather data, break down a problem, weigh pros and cons and reach logical decisions. Employees who have these skills help companies overcome challenges, or spot issues before they become problems.
Every position requires analytical skills. For some roles (e.g. Investment Banker), methodical thinking is key, while for others (e.g. Marketing Strategist) brainstorming abilities are more relevant. Regardless of how they approach problems, employees with sharp analytical skills are able to confidently connect the dots and come up with solutions.
The following analytical interview questions will help you assess how candidates:
- Gather data from various sources
- Use a critical thinking to evaluate information
- Communicate the findings of their research to team members
- Make judgments that help businesses
Combine these questions with problem-solving and competency-based interview questions to gauge how candidates address complex situations that are likely to occur on the job.
Examples of analytical skills interview questions
- Describe a time when you had to solve a problem, but didn’t have all necessary information about it in hand. What did you do?
- How do you weigh pros and cons before making a decision?
- If you had to choose between two or three options, how would you decide? (e.g. pricing, performance evaluation systems, training)
- Explain step-by-step how you troubleshoot [X] problem. (e.g. “wifi connection issues” or “a sudden drop in sales”)
- What metrics do you track on a regular basis (e.g. conversion rates, number of new customers, expenses)? What information do you research and how do you use it?
- Your manager wants to buy new software or hardware that will increase the team’s productivity and asks for your recommendation. How would you reply?
Tips to assess analytical skills in interviews
- Pose hypothetical but job-related scenarios to test candidates’ way of thinking. It’s important to figure whether they take all relevant factors into consideration.
- Make sure you give candidates enough time to come up with an answer. These types of questions usually require thinking through a situation and evaluating given facts.
- “Highly analytical” is often confused with “losing the big picture.” Look for people who can prioritize what’s most important and ignore irrelevant information.
- Candidates who are intrigued by challenges are more likely to effectively manage complex situations on the job. Keep an eye out for candidates who don’t easily quit when faced with problems, even if they can’t immediately find solutions.
- They give canned answers. Candidates tend to describe themselves in resumes and interviews as highly analytical, organized and detail-oriented. If they can’t support these skills with examples from real work experiences, they mightn’t be honest.
- They only scratch the surface. Candidates who don’t ask follow-up questions are likely to jump to rushed conclusions or miss out on important facts when dealing with a challenge.
- They have poor communication skills. Thorough analytical skills should be paired with the ability to communicate ideas to coworkers, managers and clients. Candidates who struggle to explain technical details (e.g. rates) using simple language will find it hard to be effective in their roles.
- They make assumptions. Analytical skills go hand-in-hand with critical thinking. Candidates who take things for granted and don’t fact-check tend to make more superficial decisions.