20 Critical Thinking Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Critical thinking interview questions are great ways to assess how creatively and logically a candidate can solve problems.

Critical thinking is one of the most valuable qualities to look for when hiring new employees. Employees aren’t always going to have all of the information or data they need to solve a problem. Additionally, not every problem has an easy “black or white” solution. Employees are always going to need to be able to think outside of the box to solve difficult problems. So, how can we even begin to gauge a candidate’s critical thinking abilities? Critical thinking interview questions will do the trick. When used alongside Bryq’s cognitive skills assessment, these questions really help to separate the critical thinkers from the passive thinkers during the interview process.

What is Critical Thinking…and Why is it Important?


Critical thinking means being able to think reasonably without too much emotion or subjectivity. People who think critically try to push all of that aside when making decisions. Instead, these individuals rely on objectivity, reason, and logic to solve problems. These may be considered “soft skills”, but they are becoming more and more important in the global workforce. Some jobs might seem to require more critical thinking skills than others, but critical thinking skills will need to be utilized in every job role, no matter how straight-forward a job might seem.

Take, for instance, a cashier job. It might seem that the only responsibilities a cashier might have are scanning groceries and handling money. But what if there is a price discrepancy? What if the cashier notices that a customer might be stealing merchandise? What if the customer hands over a fake note? These are all possible situations in which a cashier will need to use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

20 Critical Thinking Interview Questions

Critical thinking skills can’t be assessed by reading resumes or looking at previous work experience. Asking a candidate open-ended questions that allow them to demonstrate their ability to think outside of the box and use logic to solve problems will give you a much better idea of how sharp a candidate’s creative thinking skills are. Even asking questions that seem like riddles are a great way to get your candidates thinking! You can also use these questions to check for both hard and soft skills. Use the following 20 questions to see which of your candidates has both the brains and logic to stand out above the rest. 

Critical thinking interview questions are great ways to assess how creatively and logically a candidate can solve problems.

  1. Tell us about a time where a project did not go as planned. What can be done to avoid a similar problem in the future?

  2. Have you ever needed to make an important decision quickly?

  3. Has there ever been a time where you needed to make a decision without knowing all of the details of a situation?

  4. Imagine that you are the project manager of an important project. Two of your co-workers cannot get along and it is derailing the project. How do you go about solving this issue?

  5. Have you ever had to convince your manager that your way of solving a problem was the best way? How did you go about convincing them that you were right?

  6. Imagine that you come to work to see that you have been sent 1,000 emails overnight. If you only have time to answer 200 of them, how would you decide which 200 emails to respond to?

  7. Have you ever foreseen a problem before it happened? What did you do to prevent this from happening?

  8. A customer has come up to you with a problem while you are in the middle of talking to your manager about something very important. How would you react to this?

  9. Describe the color green to somebody who is blind.

  10. How would you go about putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle?

  11. While in a meeting, your co-worker suggests a solution to a problem that you know will not work. Do you voice your concern to the team in the meeting?

  12. Has there ever been a time when somebody suggested an idea to you that you had not considered? If so, what was your reaction to this?

  13. What steps do you take when addressing a problem?

  14. Describe a time when you noticed a problem at work and came up with a solution to fix it.

  15. Have you ever had to adapt your work style for a manager? What adjustments did you make?

  16. Tell us about a time when you set a lofty goal for yourself and achieved it. What steps did you take to make it happen?

  17. What is the one thing you would change about your previous job? How would you go about making these changes?

  18. Has there ever been a time when you were dealt with an unexpected situation at work that caused you to change your approach? Tell us how you handled it.

  19. If your manager made a mistake on an important document, how would you go about addressing it?

  20. Is it better to increase prices to gain profit or lower prices to make customers happy?

How to Assess Critical Thinking Skills

The answers to these critical thinking interview questions can and should vary across candidates. The more creative and thought-out the response is, the better the candidate should be able to solve complex problems. However, there are some common characteristics critical thinkers have that you can look for while assessing candidates.

Critical Thinkers Are Logicalthey don’t let bias or their typical way of thinking get in the way of their decision-making. They can consider a situation from every angle and use logic to develop a solution to a problem.

Critical Thinkers Are Trustworthy – they make well-reasoned decisions based on fact and logic, not emotion. This means that they make decisions that you can trust. Additionally, they use problem-solving techniques without worrying much about the opinions of others.

Critical Thinkers Are Innovative – they are true innovators at heart. They look at problems from a different perspective. Additionally, critical thinkers offer fresh solutions to your company’s problems that you might not have thought of before.

Unexpected Answers

Candidates who possess critical thinking skills typically give creative solutions to problems. If a candidate gives a typical answer to a question or presents an obvious solution to a problem, they might lack critical thinking skills. Giving “black or white” answers suggests that these candidates don’t know how to think outside of the box. You should be looking for answers and solutions that are creative yet backed by logic.

Complete Answers

Some candidates might not give detailed answers to interview questions. Alternatively, some might not even answer your question at all. It’s important to note that many critical thinking interview questions don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers. When we ask questions, we are trying to figure out whether or not the candidate has the capacity to at least try to give a fully thought-out answer backed by logical reasoning that makes sense. If a candidate tells you that the sky is actually green and not blue while presenting logical explanations as to why, you have a critical thinker on your hands. A critical thinker will convince you of things based on logic.

Check Facts

In the answers the candidates gave you, did they search for more information before moving forward in their decision-making process? When solving problems, a critical thinker prefers to find out as much information as they can before making a final decision. Make sure your candidates are making decisions based on facts and not feelings.

Logical Reasoning

In their responses, do candidates use logical reasoning to solve the issues at hand? Or do they jump to conclusions and skip logic in favor of taking action right away? When interviewing candidates, seek out logical reasoning in their answers to determine if they are critical thinkers.

How Bryq Can Help


It’s obvious that looking for critical thinking skills in the interview process is important. Of course, interview questions are only as helpful as the tools you’re using alongside them to find future hires. Bryq’s talent assessment software helps you find the perfect candidate based on personality assessments and assessment questions made to test a candidate’s cognitive abilities and critical thinking skills. Our product is based on Industrial & Organizational Psychology and measures four distinct skills – numerical skills, logical reasoning, verbal skills, and attention to detail.

Hiring employees that possess critical thinking skills can benefit your company tremendously. These employees will offer new solutions to ongoing problems, innovative ideas to improve your processes, and will work hard to make sure things go smoothly. Using the critical thinking interview questions above in conjunction with Bryq’s talent assessment software is a surefire way to hire a team of critical thinkers who will get the job done.


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