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What Is a Foolproof Method to Test for Analytical Skills?

Our new accountants generally do a fine job dealing with routine compliance issues. When it comes to analytical skills, however, most of them are severely lacking. They are unable to project or think beyond the basic answers.

It's easy to test for and to teach basic skills. But how do we test people's analytical skills?
Final Analysis, hiring manager, financial services, Plantation, Florida

October 2, 2012
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Related Topics: Skills Testing and Assessment, Pre-employment Assessment and Testing, Dear Workforce
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Dear Final Analysis:

Some skills are not curriculum-based, meaning they must be learned and developed through hands-on activities. For those types of skills, the classroom won't cut it.

You are correct: Soft skills are difficult to teach. A person either does or doesn't have the capacity to learn soft skills. Coaching could help develop these skills, although hiring someone who already possesses them is usually more effective. Include a personal skills assessment in the selection process to help indicate a candidate's level of analytical problem-solving.

Or, you could simply incorporate very detailed interview questions that truly reveal whether an applicant has the analytical skills your organization needs.

Interview questions that help identify analytical skills include:

• Describe a situation when you anticipated a problem. What, if anything, did you do about it?

• Give an example of when your diagnosis of a problem proved to be correct. What approach did you take to diagnose the problem? What was the outcome?

• Describe the most difficult work problem you've ever encountered. What made it difficult? What solution was implemented and how successful was it in solving the problem?

• What steps do you take toward developing a solution?

• What factors do you consider in evaluating solutions?

A validated assessment may shed light on a candidate's analytical thinking, but what about other qualities that you have not pinpointed? To make the hiring process even more effective, consider benchmarking the job to truly understand other skills, behaviors and motivators needed for superior performance—and then assess candidates to see how they compare.

My preliminary research on personal assessments indicates that people with analytical problem-solving skills are somewhat unique. They usually also have a passion, or motivation, for knowledge and the skill of continuous learning. Often, they also are described as suspicious, incisive, critical, exacting, organized and of high standards.

SOURCE: Bill Bonnstetter, Target Training International, Scottsdale, Arizona

LEARN MORE: A previously published Dear Workforce article addresses a similar theme and suggests tips to assess behavioral traits and flexibility of job candidates.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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