Krishnan Anantharaman from the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article about the new trend of asking questions designed to elicit critical thinking abilities in candidates. Initially, I was pleased to hear that recruiters are trying to measure critical thinking ability given the fact that only 28% of college graduates are rated as having excellent critical thinking skills yet it’s the #1 workplace skill.
However, the types of questions being used by interviewers really caught my eye. Here are a few examples from the article:
- “What did you play with as a child?”
- “If you could describe Hershey, Godiva and Dove chocolate as people, how would you describe them?”
- “What is the chance that at least two people were born on the same day of the week if there are three people in the room?”
- “If you walk into a liquor store to count the bottles unsold, but the clerk is screaming at you to leave, what do you do?
I’ll be honest, if I received any of those interview questions, I would be very caught off-guard. To some extent, that is the point. Candidates today are so well-coached on the common questions like “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker” or “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” that the answers rarely reflect the candidate themselves.
But do these questions really get to the heart of critical thinking ability? Given the fact that interview questions are notoriously unreliable measures of ability, it is doubtful. However, there is an easier solution. Use an assessment.
Not only is the Watson-Glaser II Critical Thinking Appraisal the gold standard for assessing critical thinking skills, but there is also an Interview Report that recruiters/interviewers can use to delve deeper into an individual’s assessment results.
You don’t need to come up with silly questions or have someone role-play how to sell an imaginary pen. Instead, use a psychometrically sound assessment that has a proven correlation with overall job success, occupational/educational attainment, and cognitive ability.
In the Watson Glaser Interview Report, interview questions are generated based on each individual’s results on the Watson-Glaser assessment. This creates a unique interview experience for each candidate. In addition, the report uses a structured behavioral question format, additional probing questions, and scoring format to guide the interview.
Which approach do you think would more accurately predict a strong critical thinker- the questions in the WSJ article or the results from the Watson-Glaser II plus Interview Report?
To learn more about why critical thinking matters in the workplace, download the Critical Thinking Means Business white paper here.
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.