Why Problem Solving Skills are Important in the Workplace

Posted on Tue, October 26, 2021 by Vicki Mann

In the modern workplace, problem solving skills are no less than essential. Needless to say, the world of work is not always plain sailing. No matter what role or industry you find yourself in, challenging situations are not just likely, but to be very much expected. Every role imaginable will come with its own unique set of problems that need to be solved, but what ties these situations together is their spontaneity and their need to be met with problem-solving and creative thinking. Unforeseen circumstances that will continuously arise can only be approached with practicality, common sense and personal skill. Problem solving techniques are at the heart of these abilities, and they can be applied to just about every work-related task, from organisation to communication and collaboration, managing deadlines to maintaining interpersonal relationships with colleagues. Due to the necessity of problem-solving techniques in every workplace, it could not be more important that employers use cognitive ability tests when sifting through applications to optimise recruitment selection.  

What are problem solving skills?

So, what are problem-solving skills? Problem-solving in the workplace entails a range of techniques: working around unexpected new issues, managing changing variables, the confidence to approach a new task and the knowledge of how to solve interpersonal problems. It also includes certain intrinsic qualities, such as practicality and confidence: that is, the capacity to spot when something is going wrong and raise questions which might help to solve it in the workplace. A problem solver can confidently find and manage solutions for complex and unexpected situations. Problem-solving skills involve a balance of analytical thinking, creative thinking, and critical thinking skills. Analytical thinking skills are crucial when it comes to identifying a problem, and creativity is key in finding methods to solve it. Critical thinking enables somebody to see which solution might be the most effective. Problem-solving skills are useful both in the short-term and the long-term. A candidate with good problem-solving skills will ensure that obstacles are surmounted in the moment, and the best solution is found, but they will also be able to identify the variables that gave rise to the problem in the first place, and make changes to prevent similar issues occurring in the future. In this sense, problem-solving skills are the key to approaching most complex issues and finding more enduring solutions. A good problem-solver is an asset to any organisation, and is likely to perform their job more successfully. In order to make objective hiring decisions and select the candidates with the best problem-solving capacities, your organisation will need to test for specific skills. These skills involve the ways in which a person deals with real life situations, and may not be apparent from conventional techniques such as interview questions, which do not necessarily indicate how a candidate would solve a problem in the workplace. Pre-employment skills tests, on the other hand, are a bias-free solution, ensuring that your organisation hires the applicants best suited to their roles. When assessing an applicant's capacity for problem-solving, there are six key skills which are tested.  

1. Collaboration Skills

Although problem-solving is something which exists within each individual to a greater or lesser degree, it also determines how an individual is able to interact with a group and complete a task collaboratively. Reaching a good solution and setting it in motion often requires collaboration. A problem solver knows that working with others successfully (regardless of their personality type) is the best route to solve most of the challenges that crop up both in the workplace and in everyday life.  

2. Communication Skills

When problems arise in any organisation, it is important that employees can approach them calmly, communicate the situation to others in clear and succinct terms and work together to solve it. Complex problems require good communicators, those who can simplify the situation and express the main issues in order to come to an efficient solution.  

3. Decision-Making Skills

The capacity and confidence to make a quick decision and stick to it is a crucial problem-solving technique. In a complicated situation, coming to a level-headed decision quickly and committing to it is crucial to solving the issue.  

4. Analytical Thinking Skills

The analytical mindset is necessary in confronting any problem or task and reaching a solution. It is imperative that a candidate, when faced with an issue, is able to analyse the situation and identify what has gone wrong. Analytical thinking skills are also key in the ability to select the best out of a range of possible solutions.  

5. Creative Thinking Skills

Creative thinking is an important capacity when it comes to coming up with methods to solve a problem in the workplace. The potential to approach a complicated issue from a variety of angles, and to apply the imagination to overcoming a task makes it easier to solve a problem in an efficient way.  

6. Listening Skills

Problem-solving skills rely on the fundamental faculty of listening. Listening is the surest method to collect information about an issue, weigh up different perspectives and opinions, and begin to understand a problem in order to solve it. The facility to listen to coworkers in the workplace is also a way to prevent complicated and problematic situations from occurring in the first place! Needless to say, in the world of work today, these techniques are invaluable, and it is essential that employers use psychometric measures to test for problem-solving skills in order to improve recruitment. Knowing a candidate's ability in these key areas is important, and can prevent the risk of a bad hire. Recruitment tests are very important, as getting the hire wrong does not just cost money, it also results in a loss of time and loss of productivity. Pre-employment testing, particularly tests which measure an applicant's capacity to solve a problem, and decide on the best solution, are a cost-efficient means to improve the recruitment process and ensure your company's success and growth.  

How to assess candidates' problem-solving skills

We offer different pre-employment tests which accurately assess an applicant's strength in key areas and their technique in identifying good solutions to problems in the workplace.

Situational Judgement Tests

The Situational Judgement Test is a kind of psychometric test that measures soft skills such as common sense, non-academic behaviours, technique in identifying solutions and practical intelligence. The tests work in a realistic and practical way, presenting applicants with a variety of different workplace situations which they might encounter when performing the functions that the job requires. Undoubtedly, the capacity to see which course of action a prospective employee would take or which solution they would choose in a given situation gives the employer a valuable insight into their specific skill set, and how they might respond to the demands of the job.

Logic-Based Aptitude Tests

Our logical reasoning tests measure a candidate's non-verbal intelligence - their capacity to analyse situations, extract rules, and find the right solution using logical and abstract reasoning. This is an in-depth cognitive test and so it provides an accurate indication of how successful a candidate will be when faced with workplace problems which they have to solve. Unlike most aptitude tests, logical reasoning tests do not measure knowledge in a particular subject area, simply their thought problem-solving process. This means that it is a useful tool in the recruitment process for any employer to evaluate applicants in any field.

Bespoke Tests

The option to create your own tests tailored to the demands of your organisation is a successful means of guaranteeing the right hires and ensuring good job performance. At Skillsarena, we have the expertise to create a quiz or any other testing experience that will assess the problem-solving skills that are most necessary to your particular company.   The importance of problem-solving skills in the modern workplace cannot be overstated. In order to make sure that your company grows, it is imperative that employees have the analytical and creative skills necessary to solve any problems they might face in their jobs. Our Situational Judgement TestsLogical Reasoning Tests, and Bespoke Tests are the best method of guaranteeing a good hire, testing an applicant's capacity to solve a real problem in ways that can't be measured by interview questions alone. As an employer, you know which skills and problem-solving techniques are most important for your particular company. At Skillsarena, we help you evaluate these abilities in applicants, and in doing so we make sure that your organisation is productive and successful. Get started with Skillsarena today to bring out the best in your candidates. After taking a look through our test offerings, create an account with our self-service system. This way, we can get you started with your Skillsarena profile as soon as possible. If you require any assistance, give us a call on 0203 693 2201 or send an email to info@skillsarena.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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