Critical Thinking Skills List and Examples

Critical Thinking Skills and Keywords for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

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Critical thinking is one of the most sought after qualities that employers look for in job candidates in almost any industry. Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment.

Read below for a list of critical thinking skills that employers are looking for in resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Included is a detailed list of five of the most important critical thinking skills, as well as an even longer list of critical thinking skills.

Also see below for information on how to demonstrate your critical thinking skills during your job search.

Why Employers Value Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking involves the evaluation of sources such as data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings. Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information and discriminate between useful and less useful details for solving a problem or making a decision.  

This is important for almost any job in any industry. Employers want job candidates who can evaluate a situation using logical thought and come up with the best solution. Someone with critical thinking skills can be trusted to make decisions on his or her own, and will not need constant handholding.

Examples of critical thinking vary depending on the industry. For example, a triage nurse would use critical thinking skills to analyze the cases at hand and decide the order in which the patients should be treated.

A plumber would use critical thinking skills to evaluate which materials would best suit a particular job. An attorney would review the evidence and use critical thinking to help devise a strategy to win a case or to decide whether to settle out of court.  

How to Use Skills Lists

If critical thinking is a key phrase in the job listings you are applying for, you want to emphasize your critical thinking skills throughout your job search.

Include this phrase and related terms in your resumes, cover letters, and interviews.

Firstly, you can use these critical thinking skill words in your resume. In the description of your work history, you can use some of these key words. You can also include them in your resume summary, if you have one.

Secondly, you can use these in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, you can mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated those skills at work. Think about times when you had to analyze or evaluate materials to solve a problem.

Finally, you can use these skill words in an interview. Be ready to mention a particular problem or challenge at work, and explain how you applied critical thinking to solve the issue. Try to use some of the keywords listed below in your answers to questions.

Some interviewers will even give you a hypothetical scenario or problem, and ask you to use critical thinking skills to solve it. In this case, explain your thought process thoroughly to the interviewer. He or she is typically more focused on how you arrive at your answer rather than the answer itself. The interviewer wants to see you use analysis and evaluation (key parts of critical thinking).

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Also review our other lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Top Five Critical Thinking Skills

Analytical
Part of thinking critical is the ability to carefully examine something, whether it is a problem, a set of data, or a text. People with analytical skills can examine information, and then understand what it means, and what it represents.

Communication
Often, you will need to share your conclusions with your employers or with a group of colleagues. You need to be able to clearly communicate with others to share your ideas. You might also need to engage in critical thinking with a group. In this case, you will need to work with others and communicate effectively to figure out solutions to complex problems.

Creativity
Critical thinking often involves some level of creativity. You might need to spot patterns in the information you are looking at, or come up with a solution that no one else has thought of before. All of this involves a creative eye.

Open-Minded
To think critically, you need to be able to put aside any assumptions or judgments, and simply analyze the information you are given. You need to be objective, evaluating ideas without bias.

Problem Solving
Problem solving is another important critical-thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating a solution, and implementing and then assessing that plan. After all, employers don’t simply want employee who can think about information critically. They also need to be able to come up with effective solutions.

Critical Thinking Skills

A-G

  • Analytical
  • Applying Standards
  • Asking Thoughtful Questions
  • Assessment
  • Clarification
  • Cognitive Flexibility
  • Communication
  • Conceptualization
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Decision Making
  • Embracing Different Cultural Perspectives
  • Evaluation
  • Explanation
  • Foresight

H-M

  • Identifying Patterns
  • Imaginative
  • Information Seeking
  • Interpretation
  • Judgment
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Making Abstract Connections
  • Making Inferences

N-Z

  • Objectivity
  • Observation
  • Open-Minded Thinking 
  • Predicting
  • Presentation
  • Problem Solving
  • Questioning Evidence
  • Reasoning 
  • Recognizing Differences and Similarities
  • Reflection
  • Skepticism
  • Synthesizing

Read More: Employment Skills Listed by Job | Lists of Skills for Resumes | Soft vs. Hard SkillsList of Keywords for Resumes and Cover Letters