There are many questions in an interview. Some of these are trick questions that test the applicant’s critical thinking. How candidates answer them already tells HR managers a lot about the applicant’s goals, values, motivation, and working methods. And applicants dread critical thinking questions.
Below, we show you what to look out for when it comes to critical thinking questions in a job interview and provide example answers.
1. How Will Your Greatest Strength Help You Perform At This Job?
My greatest strength is my ability to listen. I pay close attention to what they tell me, including specific information related to current projects, details about upcoming projects, and even what my colleagues did over the weekend. Being a good listener, I am very effective at completing projects efficiently because I do not have to repeat myself twice. My listening skills also allow me to effectively motivate others, which would be part of my job as head of the department.
2. What Do You Think Are The Most Difficult Decisions To Make?
I find that the hardest decision I have to make is when I have to choose between strong team members for a promotion. There have been times when, although I liked one person more than another, I had to choose the other based on their potential to take on the responsibilities of their new role. Sometimes I also had to promote younger employees over senior staff, simply because they were more adept at using technology and more willing to work overtime. It is never easy, but ultimately you need to think about who will be the most effective and productive in the new position.
3. Why Are You The Best Person For The Job?
I can find my niche within a group and support everyone’s efforts. For example, I was involved in a lot of team projects at my last job. I was always able to recognize the abilities of my teammates and delegate tasks that fit each person’s abilities. I know that this job involves a lot of teamwork and group projects, and I know that this is a style of work that I excel at.
4. Why We Should Not Hire You?
You should not hire me if an extrovert would not be a good fit for your company or this job. I like the interaction with colleagues and clients. I strive to finish every task. But building meaningful relationships with colleagues is my clear priority.
5. What Can You Contribute To The Company?
I learned a lot and have extensive work experience. I am an innovative worker and have found ways to improve teamwork. I devised strategies to improve teamwork and communication between members of team projects. I can bring to your organization not only my insights from my previous job but also my general passion for innovation. I will bring my unique vision to your company. I have experience in many areas related to the current goals of this company, including expanding international sales. For example, I helped improve international sales at a previous company by over 25%. My sales experience and planning skills will help facilitate that growth.
6. What Applicable Experience Do You Have?
I developed extensive skills working with clients even when they were in distress. I am excellent at de-escalating situations and finding a way to make the client happy. Our customer satisfaction rate increased by 10% during my tenure at my previous employer. Since the role of your marketing department is to improve customers’ impressions of the company, my experience would be of great value to your team.
7. Are You Overqualified For This Job?
Fortunately, I have lived long enough to have developed a judgment that allows me to focus on the future. As a note, I have worked at a higher level, but this position is what I am looking for. You offer the opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I am looking for something challenging but a little less intense, as I want to spend more time with my family. Before we talk about previous years, previous titles, and previous salaries, can we look at my strengths and skills and how I have stayed on the cutting edge of my career field, including its technology?
8. What Parts Of This Job Are The Most Challenging For You?
One of my anticipated challenges will be adapting to the new workflow and creating a new type of report to present to clients. I plan to ask a lot of questions when preparing my first report. I will also have a colleague review the report before I share it with the client.
9. What Were The Main Challenges And Problems You Faced At Your Last Job? How Did You Handle Them?
A long-term customer was about to take his business over to a competitor. I met with the client and was able to change the way we handle the account from day to day, to keep the business. From this situation, I learned the importance of keeping operations and customer relationships in mind, not just after issues arise, but throughout the life of the relationship. As a result, other account managers have adopted my registration and administration processes, and have seen better results with their accounts.
10. Tell Me About A Time You Made A Mistake
The thing I have learned from past mistakes is when to ask for help. I have learned that it is much better to ask for clarification and resolve a problem right away than to be unsure. I know that your company emphasizes teamwork and the need to be in constant communication with each other, and I believe that my ability to ask (and answer) questions of my colleagues would help me fit in very well with your company culture.
11. What Is The Worst Criticism You Received From Your Boss?
My manager noted that during meetings, I seemed more engrossed in my computer and phone than in the people speaking. I had been using my devices to take notes, but it was easy to get distracted by the pinging of incoming emails. Now, I disconnect my device from the Internet during meetings, so I do not get distracted by the pinging of new emails and messages. And I know that others can get the idea that I am bored or distracted by my phone. I now take notes in my notebook.
12. What Is The Reason You Did Not Get Promoted At Your Last Job?
Well, that is one of the reasons why I am looking for new opportunities. The company I worked for is small, and the organizational structure is flat. That has been beneficial for me as an employee, as I got the opportunity to learn a lot and expand my responsibilities beyond the formal definition of my role. But now, I am ready to work in a higher role. After discussions with the CEO of the company, it was clear that I will have to work elsewhere to reach that career milestone.
13. How Would You Handle It If You Know Your Boss Is 100% Wrong About Something?
I talked to a manager about a mistake, but only when I thought it would negatively affect the company. I can give you an example. A boss I worked for implemented a new way of working. He was unaware that the system was not practical and inefficient. During his open office hours, I discussed the problem privately with my manager and pointed out to him the effect these problems had on our ability to complete assigned tasks. I was so glad I brought this to his attention that he put me in charge of a task force that resolved the bug, resulting in increased productivity for all employees.
14. What Challenges Are You Looking For In The Job Role?
I know your organization emphasizes setting high goals for every team, and I look forward to being part of a team that aims high. I have a lot of experience working as part of a team and on complex projects with tight deadlines. My ability to work well with others, and manage my time will make me a supportive team member in this environment.
15. What Conflicts Did You Have In Your Last Job, And How Were They Resolved?
Conflict is an inevitable part of teamwork. The clash of different, sometimes polar interests leads to emotionally tense situations in everyday working life. Conflicts are human and part of professional life. They challenge us and also give us the opportunity for personal development. An honest, constructive conversation, respectful interaction and acceptance of other opinions can solve any conflict.
16. What Skills Or Knowledge Do You Still Lack?
You never stop learning. I can do a lot, but not everything. There are no limits to human knowledge and ability. I am proud of the skills and expertise I have acquired to date. However, it is a mission for me to expand my skills at any time and to continue my education. Lifelong learning is the basis for success.
17. How Do You Define Success?
I tend to see success incrementally. As someone who thrives on new and complex challenges, I never want to find myself in a situation where I feel like there is nothing left to learn or achieve. If I can leave work every night satisfied that I have learned something new or useful, this counts as success for me.
18. Would You Rather Be Liked Or Respected?
As an employee, I prefer to be respected. While it is nice to like your colleagues and can lead to an effective team atmosphere, sometimes a person has to request or do unpopular things. Overvaluing your loved one can make you reluctant to ask people to work late or buckle up. A respected worker can motivate people to work and complete tasks under any circumstances.
19. What Do People Often Criticize About You?
Many years ago, a supervisor told me I was too critical of other people’s work. I took it very seriously and ensure that in the future my analysis and suggestions were always supportive and helpful rather than critical. More recently, people have praised my ability to give thoughtful and helpful feedback.
20. Imagine You Need To Settle Between Decisions Proposed By Two Colleagues. How Would You Behave?
When we face two proposals and the situation requires us to make a decision, we are facing a typical case where no matter what decision we make, we will have the impression that one of the two people will be affected. I would be impartial and investigate the quality of the proposals and the objectives we need to achieve. Break with the idea that there is a winning proposal and a losing one. Convince both parties that the goal is to reach a proposal that satisfies the greater good, and not personal interests.
21. What Is The Difference Between Critical Thinking And Critical Behaviour?
Making constant criticism in our usual way of communication is one of the most common mistakes in daily life. We often confuse being critical with having a critical mindset. If a person dresses casually at a gala party and we point it out to them, that is judgmental. If a person is dressed casually for camping and we point out the dangers of not wearing proper clothing, that is being judgmental. When we say: I do not think your work is good, I think it needs to improve we are not being critical. When we formulate: I have found some deficiencies in your work, I have some alternatives for you, then we are critical.
The difference is that critical thinking is expressed to warn of a need or problem. Critical behaviour is expressed because we consider our opinion important. It is common that during brainstorming, an evaluation or feedback on our work, we confuse the signs and feel singled out, and even offended. We need to identify if the criticism comes from a need or a problem that needs to be solved, or if it is a personal opinion.
22. How To Focus On Solutions And Not Problems?
We know how difficult it is to analyze a problem when we are so engrossed in it that we do not see any solution at hand.
When facing a conflict, the first reaction is to identify the causes and not the causes. The mistake is that we focus on risks or losses instead of considering potential solutions. We should do a systematic analysis instead. Separate the possible causes until we find the origin of the problem before making a decision.
When faced with a potential or imminent problem, we must avoid that panic zone where the search for blame and the parade of justifications predominate. Let us remember that problems are not spontaneous nor do they occur by chance. They are a chain of bad decisions we must analyze, detecting their causes and origin beforehand to prevent their recurrence.
23. Why Is Important To Keep An Open Mind?
Intellectual curiosity gives us greater versatility to explore other possibilities and make better decisions. To apply critical thinking implies being open to listening to other proposals, regardless of whether they are unconventional or different from our beliefs. Today more than ever, getting out of the box is a fundamental cognitive tool for personal and professional life. It is one of the best examples of critical thinking that will allow us to explore alternatives we have not yet contemplated.
24. What Is Intellectual Humility?
Before getting into a conflict during a work discussion, discard the impulse to impose your reason and allow yourself to change your mind. Accept the possibility of being wrong and consider it an opportunity to improve your critical apparatus. This does not imply that you immediately accept the reasons of others. But that you are exercising intellectual empathy to identify your cognitive limitations.
25. Is There Anything Else You Want To Tell Us?
I think you have been incredibly thorough. We discussed my key strengths like communication skills, ability to work across departments and my public relations background. However, another important skill that I have not mentioned yet is web design. I recently completed an internship at public relations firm, where I helped design a new website for one of their clients. The client was happy with my design and even sent a letter to our CEO praising my skills. I am familiar with various web design platforms like Squarespace, WordPress, Webflow, and Wix. This skill is something I would love to bring to your company as well.
Do not be intimidated if you face questions that test your critical thinking during the interview. They want to tickle you and lure you out of your comfort zone. That is legitimate. Play confidently and see the action in a sporty way: There is no perfect or right answer.
Take your time answering. The interview is not a quiz, and the fastest wins nothing. On the contrary, you even lose – the chance to give a clever and mature answer. What is more: If you take your time for the answer – you show conscientiousness and reasoning.
Better to use the examples to practice the interview situation with a friend. This will improve your ability to answer critical thinking questions spontaneously. It will give you the self-confidence to give a good answer, and you will have a better feeling about what to expect in the interview.