10 Critical Thinking Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 1, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated October 1, 2022

Published July 26, 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.

Being able to think critically is an important skill you can use in almost any industry or role. Interviewers may try to test this skill by asking you critical thinking questions. To feel more confident in the interview and improve your chances of getting the job, it's best to prepare for these questions beforehand. In this article, we provide 10 critical thinking interview questions and sample answers you can use to help you prepare.

Related: 19 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Critical thinking questions with sample answers

To ensure you're ready for your interview, here are 10 common critical thinking questions interviewers may ask to test your skills, along with sample answers to help you prepare your own:

1. Describe one of the most difficult decisions you have had to make at work.

Interviewers ask this question to assess your experience with making challenging decisions. Think of one specific situation where you needed to make a hard decision and explain your thought process for finding the right solution.

Example: "In my previous role as an ESL teacher, I had a new student with behavioural issues. She was young, so she would cry and hit anyone that went near her. As she started hitting other students, I offered one-on-one lessons to the parents instead. We tried those for a few weeks and the student kept being violent towards me as well.

Unfortunately, I had to make the decision to let the student go and advised the parents to bring her back when she was older. It was a tough decision because I want to help all types of students but we tried everything we could and it was a safety issue."

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

2. Tell me about a time when you had to convince your supervisor or team to use an alternative approach to solve a problem.

Interviewers want to see if you can analyze existing processes and think of ways to improve them. This question also tests your communication and leadership skills since you must be able to communicate your reasoning for certain improvements and persuade others to follow you.

Example: "I was an administrative assistant for a doctor's office that has been in the community for over 20 years. All of their patient files were paper, and they barely used technology. I explained to the staff that electronic files would be much easier to maintain and access, and they agreed. I spent my first few months there switching over all our files and teaching the staff how to use the new system. They loved it as it made our documentation process much more efficient."

Related: Problem-Solving Interview Questions and How To Answer Them Effectively

3. If you noticed your supervisor made an error in their work, what would you do?

Interviewers want to ensure you're willing to be honest and point out potential errors, even when it may be uncomfortable to do so. Explain what you would do in this situation and the thought process behind your decision, emphasizing your professionalism.

Example: "If I noticed a mistake in my supervisor's work, I would ask to speak with them privately to show them the error. This avoids embarrassment and ensures that all of our work is perfect. I would also offer my assistance in fixing any errors to show my supervisor that I respect them and their authority since everyone makes mistakes."

4. How would you handle a situation where a colleague presented you with a new or unusual idea?

Interviewers ask this question to ensure you're open-minded and receptive to new ideas. These are both signs that you have critical thinking skills. Think of a time when a colleague presented a new idea that you implemented successfully.

Example: "Over my five years as a graphic designer, I always used the same design software. My colleague noticed I was using it and suggested I use a newer software since it was more efficient. I was hesitant because I was an expert with the older software, but I tried it. My colleague showed me how to use it and I loved it. It took a lot of time off my design process and I continue to use that software today."

5. Tell me about a time when you needed to make a decision quickly

Interviewers want to ensure you can use critical-thinking skills at all times, even when under pressure. Talk about a time where you had to make a decision quickly that resulted in a positive outcome.

Example: "When I was working as a restaurant manager, two of our servers called in sick at the last minute, right before our dinner rush. I quickly called everyone I could, but everyone was unavailable. I adapted the schedule, making one of our busboys a server while I took on the other server's role. It was a busy night, but we all worked together and created a great experience for our customers."

Related: 5 situational Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

6. How would you solve a disagreement among team members?

Critical thinking skills help you solve disagreements and problems as you analyze the situation and come up with a solution. Show the interviewer you can evaluate opposing viewpoints and develop a solution that works for everyone.

Example: "When team members have a disagreement, I sit both of them down separately and listen to each perspective. Then I bring them together to discuss the situation while I mediate. I encourage them to come to a solution on their own first but if they can't, I offer suggestions that benefit both parties."

7. Have you ever anticipated a potential problem and developed steps to avoid it?

Observational and problem-solving skills are essential to critical thinking. These skills can help you anticipate problems and come up with a solution to prevent them from happening, an ability many employers look for.

Example: "I was the manager at a new coffee shop that was opening. As I already worked at one of the owner's branches, I had firsthand experience in the coffee shop. Before we opened, the owner showed me the schedule and the list of employees we had. Knowing how popular the coffee shop was and how busy the area is, I knew we would be understaffed. I let the owner know we needed to hire two more full-time employees before we opened. He was hesitant, but agreed. When we opened the following week, we had the perfect amount of employees scheduled."

8. How do you handle making decisions when you don't have all the information?

Interviewers ask this question to assess your thought process when you have certain limitations. Answer this question by highlighting your logic and resourcefulness to make decisions with limited information.

Example: "When I don't have all the information I need to make decisions, I use the information I have and consider past situations that were similar.

For example, when I was tutoring students, one came in that wasn't on my schedule for the day. My manager wasn't available, and the parent left before I could ask them if they came to the right class. I didn't want to waste the student's time and knew what they were learning, so I adjusted my class to accommodate them. When my manager came in, he apologized for the mix-up and told me the student was scheduled to arrive the following day. He also thanked me for being accommodating."

9. How do you determine when you need help from others?

While being independent is a great skill to have, knowing when to ask for help is important to ensure you're always producing excellent work. Talk about a situation where you decided you needed help to succeed.

Example: "In my first year as a copywriter, I took on more assignments than I could handle. I became stressed and struggled to complete the workload. I realized it was too much for me and asked my colleagues for help. We moved assignments around so everyone had a balanced schedule. This taught me to ask for help when my workload is too big or if I need other perspectives."

10. If a colleague was having trouble understanding your process or solution, what would you do?

Interviewers want to ensure you can adjust your processes or solutions to accommodate everyone. This shows critical thinking and communication skills since you need to think of the best way to explain or adjust your process.

Example: "If I notice my colleague is having trouble understanding something I'm explaining, I stop and ask them how they're feeling so far. This gives me the opportunity to explain differently anything they don't understand. I may need to adjust my language or use different methods of explanation, such as visual aids or examples."

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