Why Problem Solving Is A Key Workplace Skill

Matt Stevens, Head of TalentLens UK explains how to assess problem solving skills during staff recruitment and development.

Tool/technique When to use Advantages
Psychometric tests Screening/sifting applicants Valid PROVEN predictors of the ability to carry out new and complex tasks.
Fair, valid and cost-effective to use as screeners or at assessment centre
Non-labour intensive. Can administer online for unsupervised completion.
Platform scores tests.
Exercises involving the analysis of information Assessment Centre - f2f / online These measure the ability to analyse and process information, breadth of thought, evaluation of options, application of logic, relevance of information, the quality of solutions and the thought process behind decisions. Labour intensive. Assessors to evaluate presentation.
Competency based interview Assessment Centre - f2f / online These probe for examples of how the person dealt with real problems
Labour intensive: 1-2-1.
Individual or group based exercises Assessment Centre - f2f / online These can measure a number of competency areas and often include problem solving abilities and the ability to arrive at an effective conclusion within the time allowed.
Labour intensive to observe.
Area Measured Test Target Roles
Level of ability to think critically - analyse written information and reach correct and logical conclusions. Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Multiple. Any role where logical decision making is important.
Level of ability to reason with numerical data. NDIT Multiple - anyone whose role involves budgeting, forecasting and working with numerical data to spot trends etc., Finance, accounting and insurance sector roles, MBA and business schools.
Level of ability to solve new and complex problems for the first time, without prior knowledge - abstract reasoning. Ravens APM  Multiple. One of the most respected measures of general ability.