How to test people for logical reasoning and why it helps

How to test people for logical reasoning and why it helps

Without logical reasoning, we tend to make decisions based on assumptions, past experiences or even a gut feeling. Applying such decision-making approaches in the workplace is a recipe for failure; especially when it comes to recruitment. When we assess candidates in an improvised way, with no thoughtful approaches in place, we inevitably lead ourselves to biased results — and conclusions. 

On the contrary, companies that take the time to evaluate candidates’ logical reasoning, during the recruitment process, are highly likely to bring people that will prove to be valuable assets on board. And, as such, they’ll help the organization thrive.

Let’s learn more about it. 

Why is it important to test logical reasoning? 

Almost every job requires some degree of logical reasoning. When testing graduates for entry-level positions you’ll be more than cautious on your final decision. But it’s not only candidates with no previous working experience that should be evaluated as to whether they meet the standards.

In fact, it’s important to assess candidates’ mental abilities regardless of the position or the seniority level of the role they’re about to take on.  Still, there are some roles that require a higher level of logical reasoning and critical thinking. Managers, for example, must be able to evaluate information, assess risks and develop strategies. All of these duties rely heavily on their ability to think critically. So, testing people for logical reasoning is a top priority for recruiters and hiring managers.

Ηow to evaluate people for logical reasoning

There are different approaches as to how you can assess candidates for logical reasoning. As a matter of fact, you may choose between structured or less structured processes. A structured way to evaluate candidates’ logical reasoning is with the help of tests; these come in various forms. Such tests will give you a final result, in the form of a normalized report, which you can use as a criterion to proceed or not with applicants; based on their cognitive skills. Alternatively, you can enhance your interviews with challenging questions that would help reveal more about your employee’s-to-be mental abilities.

Using logical reasoning tests

Logical reasoning tests — or inductive, abstract or diagrammatic reasoning tests, as they are alternatively called — are aptitude tests that help recruiters screen candidates; based on their ability to think critically. The tests usually focus on abstract problems and measure candidates’ ability to make sense of information; and figure out a solution with speed and accuracy. 

There are plenty of logical reasoning tests online that help HR managers come to a decision, as to whether a candidate has a sufficiently well-rounded mental capacity for the job or not. As a matter of fact, different test providers help companies understand what qualities are critical for a specific role; and build said tests on them. Candidates’ logical reasoning ability is key in evaluating their cognitive abilities. And, tests evaluate their thinking process; that is, as they try to make sense of information included in said context and decide how to answer.

Logical reasoning tests usually evaluate candidates’ performance and potential on the following aspects:

  • Critical reasoning
  • Decision making
  • Ability to identify patterns
  • Ability to solve case study puzzles
  • Analyze arguments
  • Draw conclusions
  • Interpret relationships
  • Identify trends
  • Spot flaws in a piece of reasoning, information or work

As for the format of the tests, they may take the form of: 

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Multiple answer questions 
  • Fill in the blank answers
  • Descriptive assignments 
  • Video questions 
  • Testing programming skills with algorithmic tests and coding simulations
  • Number series reasoning, identifying a certain pattern in a sequence of numbers

With the help of logical reasoning tests — there are plenty available online — companies can massively assess applicants, in advance. That is to say, they may apply this screening process and filter out candidates; and then, finally, invite only a subset of them to take part in the interview process.

Asking relevant questions, during interviews

If you decide to assess candidates’ competency in logical reasoning by asking questions in interviews, you may be able to identify signs and/or patterns in their thinking process; these may provide useful insights, regarding their mental muscles. To do so, you may follow approaches such as the ones we describe below: 

1. Visit past experiences

You may assess candidates’ logical reasoning, by asking them to elaborate on challenging scenarios they may have dealt with in the past; especially, cases which required them to make the most of their critical thinking skills.  

2. Use hypothetical situations

Contrary to what we’ve mentioned above, you may want to avoid asking hypothetical questions, for fear of allowing candidates to tap on their previous experience and give off-the-shelf answers. That is to say, you may ask candidates to explain, in detail, how they’d deal with complicated scenarios related to the role they’re about to take on. But, this way, you’ll be able to evaluate their ability to deal with challenging situations that require sound reasoning and critical thinking abilities; so, why not use it? Besides, we always base our reasoning in new situations, based on past experiences; one can’t avoid that.

3. Introduce logical gaps

Moreover, you may assess their competence as to whether they examine all critical parameters of a problem; that is, by presenting a vague description of the problem, on purpose. Their ability to identify gaps and missing details and, thus, ask for additional information, would be critical as to how they’ll deal with tangible problems in their daily role; especially, in case you decide to bring them on board.

4. Assess teamwork spirit and leadership capabilities

Furthermore, you may evaluate their ability to orchestrate the workload of a team; or jointly work on a project with other team members. For example, you may assign them a hypothetical, where you’ll describe detailed steps for a multi-level plan; and then, ask them to elaborate as to how they would communicate it with their team, in both the aforementioned cases. How do they share information when they hold a managerial role? 

5. Assess problem-solving skills

Above all, it’s important for you to focus on the steps candidates follow to come up with answers and solutions to the questions and problems you’ve posed; rather than evaluating their final answers, alone. The methods they’ve used to deal with each one of the challenges you’ve presented to them will reveal way more about their cognitive and logical reasoning skills. And, it’s these skills that would be critical as to how they’ll deal with the challenges that will come their way, once they’ve come on the team.  

Summing it up

It’s of paramount importance, for companies, to make sure that every person who gets on board, has the fundamental cognitive skills required to be successful in their duties. To elaborate, regardless of the role or the seniority level of their job position, all employees need to be skilled in logical reasoning. HR managers and recruiters who take the time to screen applicants with logical reasoning tests or with interview questions, increase the odds of recruiting the right people. Do you?