Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 June 2022 | Published 26 August 2020

Updated 14 June 2022

Published 26 August 2020

­­Critical thinking skills help you understand and assess a situation based on all the facts and information available. With the help of critical thinking skills, you can sort and organise information, data and facts to define and solve a problem. You probably already possess various critical thinking skills to discuss during interviews and include on your resume, and you can work to develop them. In this article, we discuss critical thinking skills, including their definition, importance, how to improve them and examples.

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the process of analysing a topic or a problem deeply based on relevant information. Here are some common steps to follow when thinking critically to solve a problem:

  • Identify an issue or a problem.

  • Understand the reason behind a problem and its solution.

  • Research and collect data or information on the issue.

  • Sort and organise findings and data.

  • Develop and implement solutions.

  • Analyse the success and failure of different solutions.

  • Identify ways to refine solutions.

Being objective is important to be a successful critical thinker. This means analysing a problem only on the facts instead of emotions. You need critical thinking skills in all industries and at every career level. Good critical thinkers work with groups and independently to solve problems.

Why Is Critical Thinking Important In The Workplace?

Critical thinking guides good decision-making in the workplace, allowing you to recognise barriers to success and find solutions to potential issues. It helps you and your colleagues brainstorm new ideas and implement them to further your goals. Critical thinking can help identify and address workflow inefficiencies, improve management techniques, guide financial decisions and cultivate a strategic mindset in almost any position.

Employers understand the value of critical thinking and look for candidates with critical thinking skills to fill open positions, so focusing on your own critical thinking at work has the potential to advance your career, among several other benefits like:

  • Encouraging teamwork

  • Resolving conflict

  • Demonstrating leadership

  • Saving time

Encouraging teamwork

Thinking critically improves communication, allowing people with different techniques for approaching problems to share their expertise and evaluate its effectiveness. Critical thinking requires you to look at a problem from multiple perspectives to properly evaluate the situation, making feedback from others an integral part of work processes.

Resolving conflict

You can use critical thinking to help mediate tensions in the workplace by identifying how a situation occurred, acknowledging the impact and moving forward with a solution-oriented mindset. The analytical nature of critical thinking can help you be objective about interpersonal tensions without having your decision-making affected by personal biases or frustrations. The ability to resolve your own conflicts and help others in the workplace using critical thinking improves the overall atmosphere and develops a culture of accountability and rational, respectful conversations.

Demonstrating leadership

By thinking critically when carrying out your responsibilities at work, you show that you are a capable leader with a strong aptitude for strategic planning. Strong critical thinking is data-driven and gives you an outline of the problem you are trying to solve, potential solutions and any anticipated results. Considering all of these attributes to make a well-rounded choice shows leadership and the ability to use details to drive an overall vision or goal.

Saving time

Using critical thinking to make choices before acting can save you time in the long run by helping you prioritise tasks and identify relevant resources and information. It helps you make well-informed decisions that are more likely to have the desired outcome, limiting the amount of time and effort you spend on making adjustments and responding to unexpected situations.

How To Become A Critical Thinker

To develop critical thinking skills you need time, patience and practice. Apply these six steps to every problem you face to practice critical thinking:

  1. Find the exact cause

  2. Collect data, suggestions and arguments

  3. Be critical about data

  4. Confirm significance

  5. Conclude

  6. Present or communicate

1. Find the exact cause

Stay to the point and focus on the issue. This will make it easier to find solutions or answers. Observation is very important for developing critical thinking. Employees who develop observational skills at a very early stage during their job are the best in recognizing and solving problems early. They are quick in identifying a new problem and may be able to predict a problem before it arises, based on experience.

2. Collect data, suggestions and arguments

After identifying a problem, you need analytical skills. You should be capable of analysing the situation based on facts, data and information about the problem. It will be helpful to collect views and ideas from various sources. Types of analytical skills required in critical thinking include:

  • Proper questioning

  • Research

  • Data analysis

  • Judgment

  • Recognizing patterns

  • Scepticism

  • Interpretation

3. Be critical about data

Check sources and reliability of the data to confirm if the conclusions are evidence-based or just opinions. Support your hypothesis with enough information and data.

4. Confirm significance

Use statistical analysis to check the significance level of your information and the validity of your sample size.

5. Give a solution

Make a list of conclusions and finalise which one is well supported. Final assessment involves making conclusions from the information and data provided and providing a solution. When assessing, it is preferable to already have knowledge and experience regarding the specific problem.

For example, a doctor will take the history of the patient, examine them, get the laboratory's help and then make a diagnosis. Similarly, a mechanic has to know about a machine and its problems before applying the information to correct a problem.

6. Present or communicate

To disclose the results of your critical thinking process, communication skills are important. You need these skills when it is time to discuss final issues and their possible solutions with the concerned parties and stakeholders. Here are some of the communication skills that are useful in critical thinking:

  • Active listening

  • Collaboration

  • Assessment

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Explanation

  • Teamwork

  • Presentation

  • Written communication

  • Verbal communication

Types Of Critical Thinking Skills

There are several types of critical thinking skills you can include on your resume. Here are a few examples:

Problem-solving

After you have identified and analyed a problem and discussed possible solutions, the final step is to execute the solution. In implementing the solution, it is necessary to understand whether the presented solution is effective for the goal. Here are a few problem-solving skills necessary in this regard:

  • Attention to detail

  • Decision making

  • Clarification

  • Identifying patterns

  • Evaluation

  • Innovation

  • Groundedness

Open-mindedness

In thinking critically, you have to be objective and evaluate ideas without bias. This involves making decisions based on data analysis rather than assumptions or judgments. Here are some skills to help you think with an open mind:

  • Fairness

  • Diversity

  • Humility

  • Objectivity

  • Inclusivity

  • Reflection

  • Observation

Creativity

You need creativity and innovation in critical thinking as well. You can use these to come up with new solutions or identify patterns in the provided data. Here are some creative skills to help you in critical thinking:

  • Conceptualisation

  • Flexibility

  • Curiosity

  • Imagination

  • Inferring

  • Drawing connections

  • Synthesising

  • Predicting

  • Vision

Tips For Improving Critical Thinking Skills

There are many ways you can work to improve or develop your critical thinking skills. Here are a few options:

  • Broaden your technical or industry-specific skills to become better at identifying problems. Take industry-specific courses that require analysis and critical thinking.

  • Volunteer to solve problems in your current job.

  • Look for advice from experts in your desired industry or field.

  • Play games in groups or alone that require analysis and inference.

Consider asking a colleague or a friend to assess your present skills and provide you with unbiased feedback about your strengths. You might want to become better in critical thinking skills to strengthen your resume or advance in your career.

Showing Critical Thinking Skills During A Job Search

You can highlight your critical thinking skills during a job search in several ways:

1. Add critical thinking keywords in your resume

You can use keywords for critical thinking (creativity, problem-solving, analytical etc.) in your resume. Include any skills mentioned in your work history, based on your competencies. The resume summary is another section where you can mention them.

For example, your resume summary might say, “Project management associate with three years of experience in agile management. Expert in conducting thorough competitor analysis and market research to assess client needs and market trends and suggest appropriate acquisition tactics.”

2. Add critical thinking skills to your cover letter

Mention a few critical thinking skills in the body of your letter. Demonstrate these skills by mentioning specific times when you used them at work. Recall times when you evaluated or analysed information in solving a problem to provide examples.

3. Demonstrate your critical thinking skills to the interviewer

You can also use critical thinking keywords in your interview. Talk about times when you came across a challenge and how you used your critical thinking skills to solve it.

Some interviewers might use a hypothetical problem or a scenario to test your critical thinking skills. In such a case, be thorough in explaining your thoughts, as it is more important to know how you solved it rather than the answer. The interviewer wants to know if you can apply evaluation and analysis strategies to the given problem or scenario.


Related:
  • How To Think Out Of The Box In 7 Steps (With Tips)
  • A Complete Guide on How To Think Logically For Any Occasion
  • A Complete Guide on How To Think Logically For Any Occasion
  • 14 Essential Critical Thinker Characteristics And Traits




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