How to Improve and Apply Critical Thinking Skills in the Workplace

10 min read

In a time of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, we tend to panic and become anxious. In these trying times, we have to make life-changing decisions. We also need to reassure other people, including our families. To do this, we should apply our critical thinking skills to allow us distinguish facts from a boatload of information.

Critical thinking is an important skill in crisis management. It helps us screen data, verify their accuracy, and make sound decisions. Likewise, critical thinking plays a vital role in competitive workplaces. A business should be able to adapt to innovations and changes in client demands. As such, employers look for candidates with excellent critical thinking and decision-making skills.

What is Critical Thinking? 

Critical comes from the Greek word kritikos that means discerning. So, contrary to popular belief, critical thinking does not refer to one’s attitude of being negative. Instead, it is how we ponder on all aspects of a certain case, even its small details. It is how we question and assess various kinds of data we receive.

Critical thinking refers to our ability to identify important mindsets and skills that help us decide effectively. In other words, it aims to determine reliable data and make reliable decisions. It covers mindset and skills that can be developed by comprehending key concepts, practices, and applications. Through critical thinking, you can analyze your thoughts as well as collect evidence that supports your ideas. In this way, you avoid taking your personal reasoning as adequate proof.

When you have well-developed critical thinking skills, you can gain many benefits. For example, you can gather accurate data. You can empathize with other’s points of view. In addition, you can effectively communicate and solve problems.

How Can You Think Critically? 

To be able to think critically, follow a highly systematic critical thinking process:

  • First, identify your goals. The critical thinking process typically begins with identifying your goals.
  • Then, work on your solutions. Once your goals are set, you need to think of means to achieve them.

Here are specific steps in a critical thinking process:

  1. Identify your problem. Determine if there is a problem. In rare instances, you may think that a problem doesn’t really exist—it might just be a misunderstanding. But, to ensure that there’s indeed a problem, you have to systematically weigh the pros and cons and clearly define and state them. When you have this ability, you have highly developed intelligence.
  2. Assess the problem by looking at it from different angles. After determining the problem, analyze it from various perspectives. Does it really exist? Or is it just your imagination? Can you solve it? Do you need help solving it? By considering different points of view, you can think of a resolution right away.
  3. Once you have assessed the problem, create a list of possible solutions. Then, review your list and choose the best among them. With many viable options, you can get the best results.
  4. Determine the most appropriate solution. After narrowing down your list, identify the most effective solution to your problem.
  5. Act upon it. Once you have chosen the appropriate solution, it’s time to implement it.

Through these steps, we can hone our critical thinking skills to solve problems. In turn, our self-confidence and self-worth improve. These skills not only help us deal with future issues more efficiently; they also expand our experiences.

team solving problem in the office

What are the Important Critical Thinking Skills?

The most important critical thinking skills are described below:

1. Observation

Observation is the first aspect of critical thinking. Observant people can identify a new problem right away. They can also understand why something may be a problem. They may even be able to anticipate when a problem might occur based on their experience.

2. Analysis

This skill is vital after you have identified a problem. Your ability to examine a situation allows you to determine crucial facts about the problem. This involves collecting unbiased data, asking relevant questions, and objectively analyzing the findings.

3. Inference

With this skill, you can draw conclusions based on the gathered data. To apply this skill, you may need technical knowhow. To infer, you create answers based on limited data. For example, an IT tech support may infer the cause of system issues based on available information.

4. Communication

Communication is needed so that you can explain complex issues to your colleagues and other stakeholders and offer potential solutions. It can be applied to many work-related aspects, including critical thinking.

5. Problem Solving

This skill involves resolving the problem. With critical thinking, you can apply the best option. You can also confirm if your solution is indeed effective based on the outcome.

6. Self-Regulation

To self-regulate entails self-consciousness. It allows you to assess cognitive or thinking activities, the essential factors, and the obtained results. It is also divided into two sub-skills: self-examination and self-correction.

How Can You Apply Critical Thinking to Your Career? 

Once you have joined the workforce, you can develop and hone your critical thinking skills. Critical thinkers ask sensible questions. They propose novel ideas and think outside the box. They also offer innovations. This is why they have an edge over their colleagues who don’t have these traits.

Regardless of your role, you are a valuable team member when you have these skills. Here are some examples of careers that require critical thinking:

  • Nurse
  • Lawyer
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Manager
  • Physician
  • Researcher
  • Business Analyst
  • Marketing Associate
  • Human Resources Specialist

How Will You Include Critical Thinking Skills on Your Resume? 

You may consider including the critical thinking skills described above on your resume and even discuss them in your interview.

1. Customize your skills and pass the applicant tracking system.

When selecting the skills to include in your resume, you need to check the required skills for a particular job. If critical thinking is needed, then it should be one of the top skills highlighted in your resume.

You can also create a resume skills section. In this section, use keywords related to critical thinking, and organize the content so that it can be easily read. You may opt to use a bulleted list that can be quickly scanned. You can further describe them in complete sentences in your work history.

2. Reframe your resume to include your skills in other parts.

After making a list of your critical thinking and other skills, you should highlight them in your work history and other sections. You can provide concrete examples of how you used your skills to complete a task. Use impactful verbs such as “identified,” “analyzed,” and “managed.”

For instance, if you needed to create a logo for a new brand, you could say that you examined the competition and interviewed potential clients. You even assessed past sales data to come up with a design. Then, you could also provide good outcomes, such as sales growth, to emphasize your success.

3. Highlight your critical thinking skills in interviews.

Interviewers ask for evidence on how you have shown your critical thinking skills. Before your interview, think about how you solved a complex problem in your past jobs. During your interview, describe how you identified and assessed a problem. Moreover, include how you came up with solutions and resolved the problem.

job seeker including critical thinking skills on her resume

Examples of Critical Thinking Skills on Resumes 

Here are some examples on how you can include your critical thinking skills in your resume:

Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing 

  • Determined and interpreted the significance of laboratory values, vital signs, and physical assessment data
  • Examined and understood a patient’s behavior or statements
  • Carefully monitored patients to determine improvement or decline in their health status

Critical Thinking Skills in Science and Research

  • Successfully beat 250 other candidates and received $100K innovation grant for a biodegradable plastic research
  • Developed next-generation polymer-based organic light-emitting diodes with quality almost similar to SMOLEDs but at a lower cost
  • Completely integrated circuit and system solutions that reached the target speed, power, frequency, and yield

Critical Thinking Skills in Engineering

  • Collaborated with the QC Team to conduct experimental software runs and end the need for outside assistance, saving over $80K in the past six months
  • Established new coding verification protocols, which caused a 12% decrease in reported coding errors
  • Wrote SQL queries and statements to examine, investigate, and resolve application errors

How Can You Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills at Work?

  • Define your question. In critical thinking, you must consider your goal. What are you trying to achieve? Then, figure out how you are going to reach your goal.
  • Collect reliable information. Use reliable and unbiased sources.
  • Ask appropriate questions. Questions are vital to many projects, but ensure that they are relevant to your goal.
  • Consider short- and long-term outcomes. Ponder on the potential short- and long-term effects of your solution.
  • Explore all aspects. Consider all options and carefully assess all aspects related to your goal before you make your conclusions.

Practical Tips on Improving Your Critical Thinking Skills

  • Play strategy games, chess, and crossword puzzles to sharpen your brain.
  • Read books to improve your focus, imagination, and vocabulary.
  • Participate in healthy debates or arguments.
  • List the pros, cons, and interesting aspects of a position.
  • Assess a problem from various viewpoints, and identify flaws in reasoning.
  • Learn what a logical fallacy is. Generally, it is an argument based on a false or inaccurate premise. Logical fallacies include overgeneralization, quickly jumping to conclusions, or believing that one point is true because many people think it is.
  • Check for inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.
  • Question assumptions, consider the big picture, and avoid accepting ideas at face value.

team brainstorming to resolve problems

Critical Thinking Interview Questions

During your interview, interviewers assess your critical thinking skills. They ask questions related to your ability to evaluate information effectively and efficiently. They may also give hypothetical situations to see how you make a sound decision. There is neither right nor wrong answer to such interview questions. However, interviewers will check if you are innovative and able to provide thought-out solutions.

How Can You Ace Your Critical Thinking Test in an Interview?

To provide an answer that includes exactly what your interviewer is looking for, you may consider the following aspects: situation/problem, task/role in that situation, your actions, and results you obtained.

1. Describe the situation or problem that you faced.

Craft your answer by including:

  • what happened
  • who was affected or involved
  • why the situation or problem occurred

In addition, clearly explain the context of the problem. Include relevant details about why you need your critical thinking skills in that specific problem.

2. Discuss your specific role.

Provide vital details, such as specific tasks. Explain your task that led to solving the problem. You may consider the following guide questions:

  • What is your contribution to that specific situation?
  • Why did you get involved?
  • What was the background story?

3. Specify and describe the actions you applied to solve the problem in detail.

You may indicate

  • the steps you took to address the situation
  • the reasons for using those steps to complete your tasks

4. Complete your answer by describing the results of your actions.

When doing so, you need to make sure that you showcase your strengths. Highlight your positive outcomes and learning experiences. You may describe

  • what exactly took place
  • what you achieved
  • how you felt about the outcomes
  • what you learned
  • how this specific situation influenced you as a professional

applicant answering job interviewer showing her critical thinking skills

Sample Answer to a Critical Thinking Interview Question

Question: Could you describe a situation wherein you had to solve a challenging problem at work?

1. Describe the Situation/Problem

I worked as a business development manager at YXZ Software. I was the one who organized all client events and conferences. Given that our company was a major player in the IT market, we invited experts to talk about market developments during our events. We held these events to meet new clients and maintain our relationship with our existing ones. 

2. Discuss Your Specific Role/Task

We examined our participant data and found a 10% decrease in our event attendance. We also discovered a decrease in the retention rate of our clients. So for our next event, my team and I had to promote our event. Our goal was to increase our attendance levels and stay successful. 

3. Specify Your Action

I already had an idea why these values decreased, but I still needed more data. So I interviewed our sales consultants. Most of them suggested that we should use social media channels to attract new clients. Our marketing team brainstormed about this, and we decided to ask our client base about what they would like to experience in our next events. 

Through our dialog, we gained new ideas, and we received suggestions on how to enhance our networking possibilities. Then, I proposed a new action plan based on our research and feedback to promote our events through our social media channels and gain more exposure. 

4. Describe the Results 

After our marketing campaign launch, we had an increased presence online. Our advance registrations also increased. For that specific event, our attendance was 30% higher than that in the previous year. 

We also conducted an online survey. We were glad that our attendees were satisfied with the structure of the new event. Most of the respondents also indicated that they would likely recommend our events within their network. Thus, my approach successfully increased the attendance at our events. Our director even asked me to present how I dealt with this problem to the board.

This answer is an example of a strong critical thinking skill because of the following:

  • It describes your ability to identify problems and understand your responsibility to solve them.
  • Though presented briefly, it is related and relevant to the workplace.
  • It entails other important skills, such as teamwork, being proactive, and creativity.
  • It discusses how you took full responsibility on finding out the cause. The action yielded good outcomes, which showed how your critical thinking skills paid off.

brainstorming to resolve problem

Critically Think About Your Answers with the Help of Experts 

Right now, we are faced with constant yet unpredictable changes. This is why critical thinking is a major skill for the future workforce. It involves linking important concepts and ideas. So, critical thinkers can often systematically and easily solve problems. They can also prioritize the most relevant concepts related to their ideas.

In your job interview, your answers to critical thinking interview questions are keys to successfully impressing your interviewer. Ensure that you showcase your critical thinking skills and personality. Hence, you need to prep your answers and be confident when you present yourself to your recruiter. Aside from answers to interview questions, job interview strategies are essential aspects of your job search success.

Apply Critical Thinking Skills in Looking for the Best Resume Writing Firms 

A lot of resume writing services are available online. Practice how you can apply your critical thinking skills to select the best online resume writing firm. Contact us today to know more on how we can include your critical thinking skills on your resume. You can critically assess our resume services to know which one is the most suitable for you.

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