Analytical Skills: Definition and 15 Workplace Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 25, 2022

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Analytical skills are an essential group of competencies that many employers value. These skills help their employees to solve problems, make decisions, and develop solutions. In this article, we define this type of skill by describing the various areas that comprise the skill set and offer examples of workplace activities that require these skills.


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What are analytical skills?

Analytical skills are a group of characteristics and traits that allow you to observe, investigate, evaluate, and interpret complex ideas and issues. Using analytical thinking enables you to problem-solve and create complex ideas and solutions in various situations. As with many skills, you can learn to analyze can hone your abilities with time and practice.

Effective analytical skills require combining a variety of types of skills to achieve workplace success. Some of these skills include:

  • Communication: Communicating effectively requires being analytical to ask the right questions to gather all the information you need to evaluate a situation, develop a solution, and inform others about the next steps. Team-building exercises, brainstorming sessions, presenting to colleagues, surveying clients, and encouraging discussions may help you improve your analytical and communication skills.

  • Creative thinking: Creative thinking helps you analyze data, opinions, problems, and solutions to identify possible resolutions for complex problems. Brainstorming, collaborating, and challenging yourself to think about new perspectives may help you improve your creative and analytical abilities.

  • Research and investigation: Research and investigation help you gather the necessary information to make decisions, solve problems, isolate the most important information, and develop solutions. Creating lists of critical questions, learning about new resource options, and speaking with colleagues may help you develop your research and investigation skills.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills enable you to evaluate a particular issue or problem to make an educated decision based on what you know to be true. Learning how to identify the most important information or prioritize tasks based on specific criteria may help you strengthen your critical thinking skills.

  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills refer to your ability to identify the cause of an issue, develop various possible solutions, and determine the best decision. Solving logic problems, collaborating with others, and doing puzzles may present you with challenges to improve your problem-solving skills.

  • Data and information analysis: Data and information analysis require you to evaluate data to determine the most important information, identify patterns, and decide the most valuable insights. Practice creating logical connections between information to build your data and information analysis skills.

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Why are these skills important?

You use these skills in several aspects of your life, including relationships, daily activities, and workplace responsibilities, and many careers require them to be successful. Many employers seek candidates who have highly developed analytical thinking skills, as it helps solve complex problems, analyze data, or determine the best course of action in a project. While careers like law, medicine, science, and math require these skills, this type of skill also supports many positions by encouraging critical thinking, developing theories, and coming up with creative answers. You can apply analytical thinking in almost any situation, such as improving a program or product, creating better professional relationships, developing work processes, and analyzing customers' needs.


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15 workplace activities that require analytical skills

Here are some examples of common workplace activities that use these skills:

1. Creating a project budget

When creating a project budget, there are various things to consider. The process requires analytical, critical thinking, and research skills. You need to assess the project's needs and provide a realistic budget for all possible events throughout the timeline.

2. Collaborating with others to solve a problem

Collaborating with others at work is a common situation. This provides a valuable learning opportunity to practice your skills by brainstorming and researching ideas. Based on your findings, you may assess the possibilities to determine what's the best possible solution to implement.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition and Examples

3. Discovering a cost-savings measure

When you can find a way to save your company or department money, you provide a valuable solution. The process of discovering a cost-saving measure may begin with identifying what's costing your organization too much money. Based on this, it's important to develop a list of potential ways to reduce spending money, use resources more effectively, or improve efficiency.

4. Making a diagnosis of an ongoing problem

Consider taking advantage of the opportunity to resolve an ongoing problem within your organization. Begin by researching the potential causes of the issue. Brainstorm viable solutions for the problem, and implement different ideas, evaluating their effectiveness until you identify the best resolution for the situation.

5. Prioritizing your daily workload

When you prioritize your daily workload, you use your skills to determine urgent and essential tasks. You assess deadlines and events outside of your control, such as waiting on a coworker to contribute to a project. Learning to prioritize your workload and your goals helps to develop your analytical thinking.

6. Systematic troubleshooting of a software issue

IT professionals typically use a systematic process to troubleshoot a software issue. They often use step-by-step procedures and the process of elimination to determine the cause of the problem and provide a resolution. This process often begins broadly to eliminate common problems, and it may become more complex as they narrow down what's happening.

7. Completing a quality assurance assessment on a business process

Most organizations may benefit from improving processes to make them more efficient, robust, or cost-effective. Start with analyzing business processes to identify opportunities for improvement. Based on your findings, develop potential solutions for improvement to test and implement.

8. Calculating the cost of a project

Calculating the cost of a project or product requires multiple steps. First, you determine everything you anticipate needing for the project, such as materials, personnel, and other resources. Based on this, it's important to estimate potential figures accurately and consider factors that may affect costs during the project's progress.

9. Preparing a business presentation

Preparing a business presentation requires determining what's most important for audiences to hear. This influences what content you include in your presentation and how you organize the information. It's also important to use communication skills to ensure you share information effectively and check for understanding with the audience.

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

10. Working with a customer to assess their business needs

Completing any needs analysis requires critical thinking, communication, and the ability to analyze the information you uncover. This process begins with asking the best questions from the right people, including the customer and your colleagues, to gather all relevant information. Based on your findings, you evaluate potential causes of the issue, develop potential solutions, and determine what to do next.

11. Educating clients about technical information

Some professions require explaining complex technical information to people who don't have the same technical expertise. Start by determining what's the most important information for them to know. After isolating the most valuable information, consider how you can communicate the information to them, such as through visual aids or by using simplified language or metaphors.

12. Identifying new business opportunities

Identifying new business opportunities may help you provide suggestions for growing your company and achieving new areas of success. Begin by analyzing your current business to identify any areas of improvement or potential ways to expand smaller sections of the organization. Continue your assessment by completing market research, evaluating your customers, and preparing cost estimates.

13. Using customer feedback

Many organizations collect feedback from customers to assess customer satisfaction levels and discover areas of improvement. Analyzing this data allows you to identify common complaints from customers or learn what they like best about your product or services. Based on the patterns or trends, you may also determine what organizational changes to prioritize.

14. Diagnosing a patient

Analytical abilities are critical for medical professionals. These skills enable them to evaluate patients' symptoms and previous medical history to determine plausible explanations for medical problems. This helps them to better diagnose, treat, and care for their patients.

15. Understanding budget problems

Organizations, such as restaurants or construction companies, may experience issues with their budgets if there are supply chain problems or changes to material costs. Determining a solution for balancing the budget requires evaluating the situation to identify the specific cause of the problem. Based on this, you can develop temporary solutions so that you still have the materials you need without overspending.

Related: 9 Common Analytical Questions in Interviews (With Sample Answers)

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