According to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, we are currently in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This period is about more than the advent of the digital era, as technology leaps forward with the promise of self-driving cars, intelligent robots, and mobile supercomputing. As with all three previous industrial revolutions, these technological advancements will inevitably reshape the landscape of the workforce and the job market.
Increased mechanisation, atomisation, and artificial intelligence mean that critical thinking will soon become one of the most in-demand skills across all industries. In fact, the 2016 Future of Jobs Report, published by the World Economic Forum, has found that critical thinking will be one of the most essential sets of skills for anyone in the job market as early as 2020. However, the report also found that these skills are some of the hardest to recruit for, most likely because they have been traditionally difficult to assess and measure.
That being said, a renewed emphasis on and understanding of the importance of critical thinking skills in the workforce have led to new developments in critical thinking assessments. These assessments can be used at any phase of employment, but integrating them into the recruitment process is a significant step in making sure that you are hiring the best possible candidate in a changing job market.
What are critical thinking assessments?
Critical thinking assessments are a way of evaluating the skills that will make a potential employee thrive in the future workplace. In simple terms, as defined by Oxford University Press, critical thinking is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.” Assessing critical thinking allows employers to determine an individual’s ability to work independently, monitor their own performance, and reassess the status quo. It can also identify undesirable candidates who think impulsively, neglect to examine multiple perspectives, or lack foresight.
In short, critical thinking assessments measure analytical, conceptual, and creative skills, among others. Thus, they are particularly effective as a recruitment tool for positions that require significant independent thought.
Why will it help you choose the best candidate?
As an employer, you are likely looking for the candidate with the best possible cognitive ability. While academic and professional successes can be indicators of one kind of intelligence, they don’t necessarily determine a person’s ability to continue to learn, to adapt to change, or to synthesize new ideas. These skills are essential in your best possible candidate because they mean that your new employee is more likely to go above and beyond the implied constraints of their job description or the current market. In addition, psychological research has found that critical thinking assessments are a highly accurate way of predicting future performance.
Those with high critical thinking skills look beyond the status quo and find solutions that don’t just solve a problem, but that may even take the field in a new direction. Innovation comes from an ability to assess the current situation from multiple perspectives and come up with creative problem-solving solutions. Often, those with the creative thinking skill of critical thinking have the foresight to solve problems before they develop. Their ability to analyse, evaluate, and interpret information allows them to better predict future outcomes and respond accordingly in the present moment.
What will it identify?
Critical thinking testing assesses creativity, reflectiveness, and decision-making. To give you an idea of its practical applications, here are some of the skills that critical thinking testing can identify and measure:
- Ability to synthesise and distil information
- Ability to find workable solutions
- Facility in articulating opinions, problems, solutions, etc.
- Ability to assess arguments and spot potential flaws
- Quicker and more informed decision making
- Ability to shift perspective
Critical thinking assessments can help identify the right candidate by breaking the structure of the traditional recruitment process. It forces candidates to step away from their prepared stock answers and demonstrate the ability to be flexible, adaptable, and think on their feet. Right away, how they approach the assessment is an indicator of how open and flexible they are to new perspectives and ideas. The unexpected and unique element of adding a critical thinking assessment to your recruitment process means that potential employees must deviate from their polished and pre-planned presentation to demonstrate a more honest and authentic version of themselves and their skills.
As Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations for Google, once said, today’s high level employers are looking for “the ability to process on the fly […] to pull together disparate bits of information […] emergent leadership [and] intellectual humility.” These skills, which cannot be quantified by traditional assessments, can all be identified with the help of critical thinking assessments.
In conjunction with the University of Cambridge, Macat has developed a unique Critical Thinking Assessment that both assesses and measures a candidate’s PACIER skills:
- Problem-solving: the ability to develop strategies and create workable solutions
- Analysis: the ability to break arguments down into their constituent parts
- Creative thinking: finding new or unexpected solutions to a problem
- Interpretation: decoding meaning and significance when looking at claims (including evidence)
- Evaluation: a person’s ability to look for strengths and weaknesses in arguments
- Reasoning: the ability to craft compelling and persuasive arguments.
Together, these skills contribute to an individual’s overall ability to think critically in both the workplace and in life.
For any business or employee to compete during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, strong critical thinking skills are essential. When it comes to hiring new employees, the time has come to change the old recruitment model and expand it with the simple addition of critical thinking assessments. Not only will you be hiring the most analytical, creative, and innovative candidate, you’ll also be setting up your business to compete aggressively in an ever-changing global market.