Critical Thinking Test for Employers: Assessment to Hire the Best

Any job seeker worth their salt likely prides themself as a critical thinker. Sadly, bold promises in an interview don’t always paint a realistic picture of the candidate you’re looking to land. Without a reliable way to test for critical thinking, someone you hire to be Sherlock Holmes may turn out to be Inspector Clouseau.

Critical thinking may seem like a “soft skill,” but in truth, it’s anything but. You need new hires who are critical thinkers — otherwise, you run the risk of hand-holding them. You can’t delegate, and before long you’re solving problems that shouldn’t be your problem at all.

A critical thinking test can help you hire candidates with the cognitive chops to last at your company. Use the pre-employment critical thinking skills assessment test below to screen your new hires and find all-star talent. We’ve even included an answer key to help you optimize the test.

Use the critical thinking test below to screen your candidates

or let The Hire Talent do it for you. We’ll screen for critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal, and other skills — to prequalify your job candidates automatically.

What Is a Critical Thinking Test?

A critical thinking test is an assessment that measures someone’s ability to think logically and draw conclusions based on limited information. Critical thinking tests are commonly used to assess a candidate’s aptitude for deduction. They’re a reliable tool to find and recruit exceptional talent.

When you test for critical thinking, you arm your recruiting team with objective data they can use to avoid biases and add precision to their hiring process. The more you invest in a critical thinking test, the higher the odds you’ll land the next Tim Cook or Mary Barra.

Pro Tip: Critical thinking and problem solving go hand in hand. See our problem-solving skills test here.

Critical Thinking Skills Assessment

Critical Thinking Test for Employers

Use this sample critical thinking skills assessment in your hiring process, or tap into The Hire Talent’s fully fledged online test to take your hiring to the next level. We’ll test, score, and float top candidates to the top.

1. Select the pair of words that are related like BRAIN : THINK.

  4. DEER : FUR

Answer: C. The word “THINK” is a function of the word “BRAIN.” Only “LUNGS : BREATHE” shares the same relationship. This question assesses a candidate’s ability to draw parallels between sets of information.

2. Complete the following sequence: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15...

  1. 19
  2. 20
  3. 21
  4. 22
  5. 23

Answer: C. Each new number in the sequence requires adding one to the difference between the prior two. 1 + 2 = 3, 3 + 3 = 6, 6 + 4 = 10, etc. This question gauges a candidate’s aptitude for analyzing and recognizing patterns in data.

3. “Few people are celebrities. Most celebrities are millionaires.” Which statement below can be deduced?

  1. Few people are millionaires.
  2. Most millionaires are celebrities.
  3. Most celebrities are famous.
  4. Wealth is a result of fame.
  5. None of the above

Answer: E. Option A may be common knowledge, but it can’t be deduced based on the question statements alone. This question assesses a person’s ability to reason (and to recognize insufficient information).

4. “Sunday is the busiest day at the supermarket. Randy doesn’t like to shop when it’s busy.” What’s a reasonable conclusion?

  1. Randy never shops on Sundays.
  2. Randy only shops during the week.
  3. The supermarket isn’t busy on weekdays.
  4. Randy does all his shopping on Saturdays.
  5. Randy avoids shopping on Sundays.

Answer: E. There isn’t enough information to deduce any other option. This critical thinking test question looks to see whether candidates can draw reasonable conclusions with limited information.

5. A baker buys bread from suppliers at $1.65 a loaf and sells it to customers at $2.95 a loaf. How many loaves did she sell if she made $3,250 in profit this week?

  1. 1,100
  2. 1,970
  3. 2,250
  4. 2,500
  5. 3,200

Answer: D. $2.95 - $1.65 = a $1.30 margin per loaf. Divide $3,250 by $1.30, and you get 2,500. This critical thinking abilities test question measures a candidate’s aptitude for mathematical analysis and deduction.

6. Which of the following items doesn’t belong? “Sock. Hat. Glove. Bag. Shirt.”

  1. Sock
  2. Hat
  3. Glove
  4. Bag
  5. Shirt

Answer: D. Bag is the only item that cannot be worn. This question measures a candidate’s ability to draw parallels between like items in a data set.

7. Select the pair of words that are related like FALL : HURT.

  3. EAT : FULL
  4. CRY : SMILE

Answer: C. There is a causal relationship between “FALL” and “HURT” — when the first happens, the second occurs. “EAT : FULL” follows a similar causality. This question assesses a candidate’s ability to draw parallels between sets of information.

8. Complete the following sequence: 11, 1, 12, 13, 25...

  1. 1
  2. 14
  3. 15
  4. 30
  5. 38

Answer: E. Add the two previous numbers to get the next in the sequence. 11 + 1 = 12, 1 + 12 = 13, etc. This question gauges a candidate’s aptitude for analyzing and recognizing patterns in data.

9. “Many kids aspire to be professional athletes. Some athletes get injured during their careers.” Which statement below can be deduced?

  1. Some kids will get injured as adults.
  2. Pro athletes are weak-minded.
  3. Injury is a natural part of life.
  4. Becoming a pro athlete can be dangerous.
  5. None of the above

Answer: D. Other options can be inferred, but only option D can be deduced based on the prompt. This critical thinking ability assessment question gauges a candidate’s aptitude for deductive reasoning.

10. A company expects to boost profits by 40% next year. If profits were $2.5 million this year, what are its projections for next year?

  1. $1.0 million
  2. $2.0 million
  3. $2.5 million
  4. $3.0 million
  5. $3.5 million

Answer: E. Multiply $2.5 million by 0.4, and you get $1.0 million. Add $2.5 and $1.0 million, and you get $3.5 million. This critical thinking test question gauges a candidate’s ability to parse and manipulate mathematical figures.

How to Test Applicants for Critical Thinking Skills

Critical Thinking Test for Employers

Critical thinking ability testing isn’t a simple task. Get it wrong, and it’s like Elon Musk buying Twitter — it won’t look pretty, and you’re likely to lose more than just credibility. Follow the steps below, and you’ll slash bias and get a clear view into future performance.

1. Use bias-free critical thinking test questions.

Critical thinking can be a fuzzy concept that’s hard to judge based on gut feel alone. So — it’s important to leverage questions that accurately and reliably measure critical thinking skills in your applicants. Use a scientifically vetted set of questions — like The Hire Talent’s — that ensures objectivity and protects your hiring team from potential bias.

2. Future-proof your test-taking technology.

No one likes taking an assessment that feels straight out of the 1950s. As an employer, the onus is on you to keep your test-taking technology up to date. Be willing to invest in tech that’s sleeker and more accessible than your current offerings. The more modern your tech, the better the candidate experience.

3. Keep data security top of mind.

Your candidates trust you to protect their data. Breach that, and it can be devastating for your candidate search and your entire brand. Use encrypted servers to protect candidate privacy and confidentiality. Doing that keeps you competitive with other peers in the space.

4. Be consistent with your scoring rubric.

A critical thinking test won’t do you much good if you don't get the results properly. Be consistent and careful not to move the goalposts. The more reliable your scorecard, the higher the odds you’ll find the talent you need.

How We Created this Critical Thinking Test

This critical thinking test came from careful research and execution. Questions were written following proven psychological principles, then administered to a large sample group to verify quality and effectiveness. Following a round of analyses, the questions were further refined to ensure freedom from bias and correlation with key job performance outcomes.

The result is a critical thinking assessment that helps employers hire with greater accuracy while making more objective and inclusive hiring decisions.

Benefits of Online Critical Thinking Testing

Critical Thinking Test for Employers

“We’re so glad we hired her!” A reliable method of online critical thinking testing can be a boon to your whole organization. The more you invest in critical thinking testing, the easier it becomes to identify high-potential candidates from a stack of resumes. That way, you can worry less about hiring a low performer and set your sights on the next all-star right around the corner.

Here are just a few benefits of testing for critical thinking:

  • Screen out unqualified candidates: A critical thinking quiz or test can help identify qualified candidates quicker — and save you from potential mishires.
  • Identify high performers: If you’re recruiting from a particularly large candidate pool, a critical thinking test ensures that high-potential candidates bubble up to the top.
  • Use for a range of jobs: SInce critical thinking applies to a wide array of job roles, it’s easy to implement this assessment no matter your hiring process.
  • Remove bias when screening: Job interviews are notorious for their subjectivity. A pre-employment test can add objectivity to your hiring and cut down on potential biases.
  • Predict job performance: When employees think and communicate well, they also tend to function and perform well.
  • Inexpensive: Online critical thinking tests are a low-cost option that requires little in the way of setup or upkeep.
  • Easy to administer, take, and see results: Provided you’re using a high-quality test, you can expect results within a period of days or even hours.
  • Decrease time to hire: Hiring can be a slugfest. With the right critical thinking test, you can identify high-quality candidates earlier in the process and accelerate your time to hire.
  • Increase retention: When you hire the right candidates for the job, you increase the likelihood they’ll succeed in the role and want to stay for the long haul.
  • Lower hiring costs: With every mishire you avoid, you’ll save money you can reinvest in your team or the organization at large.

Pro Tip: The best critical thinker in the world is still a terrible employee if they don’t get along with others. See our interpersonal skills test here.

Why Are Critical Thinking Skills Important in the Workplace?

Critical Thinking Test for Employers

Critical thinking skills are important because they let employees process new information, adapt to challenges, and succeed in the face of adversity. In a survey of 2,100 executives and managers, 68% rated critical thinking as the most important skill needed for organizational success.

Consider the flipside. When employees lack the ability to think critically, failure typically isn’t far behind. These employees may tend to rush decisions and make more mistakes — a phenomenon known as the urgency trap. Left unaddressed, this issue can torpedo your business and leave you without a lifeboat.

What Roles Need Critical Thinking Testing?

Critical thinking skills can elevate nearly any job that comes to mind. Yet some jobs lean on critical thinking far more than others. Would you rather have critical thinkers designing the COVID-19 vaccine? Or would you rather leave it to Moe, Curly, and Larry?

Here are the job roles that benefit from critical thinking testing the most:

  • Accountant
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Analyst
  • Automotive Technician
  • Chemist
  • Consultant
  • Criminologist or Detective
  • Director of Marketing
  • Engineer
  • Judge
  • Lawyer
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician
  • Physicist
  • Police Officer
  • Principal
  • Project Manager
  • Psychologist
  • Social Worker
  • UX Designer
  • Who wants to hire a doorknob? 


A critical thinking test in an invaluable way for recruiters to find high-potential candidates before you even start screening. By investing in a pre-assessment tool that’s low-cost, reliable, and scientifically validated — like The Hire Talent’s — you’ll find those hidden gem candidates in no time flat.

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