When looking for a sales, engineering, analysis, and project management job, it is important to ensure that you have the necessary cognitive skills that differentiate good employees from exceptional ones. The job market is as competitive as ever right now, so you must ensure that you have more than technical or book knowledge to succeed.

More and more companies are incorporating cognitive pre-hire tests like the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test to ensure that only top-quality candidates are brought on board. So, it is essential to understand the key cognitive skills needed to beat the test and grab the job you deserve.

In this short article, we are going to focus on the following cognitive skills:
• Critical thinking
• Problem solving
Learning skills

Our brains use several "core skills" and merge them into a vast database that we access every day for a wide range of tasks and situations at the office or with clients.

We are going to briefly define each primary cognitive skill and give some pointers on how to strengthen those skill sets.

Critical thinking:

Critical thinking is vital for several fields, including:

• Law
• Education
• Research
• Medical
• Finance
• And more.

Who is a serious critical thinker?

• Defines serious issues in a precise and clear manner.
• Interprets and cross-tests solutions based on relevant information by using abstract ideas in a clear manner.
• Devises new solutions and effectively communicates all findings.
Open to new or alternative methods, but considers every aspect of change, including assumptions, implications, and practical consequences.

Now you can see just why the above critical thinking attributes can be crucial to the jobs listed above. They show a reflective, competent, and independent employee who will succeed in finding errors or inconsistencies that might decrease the level of the work or lead the company to losses. While this skill is considered "soft," it is as essential as they come.

Increasing your critical thinking capacity:

Assess: First, you will find the objective truth by challenging both the information and the possible solutions that can be extracted from it.

Challenge: When you see any information, one must ask why the supplier bothered to publish it. There is an agenda behind everything, and you must decide its relevance in terms of matching your goals.

Question: You want to constantly ask a whole host of questions about any data presented to you. This includes reading conflicting data, expert analysis to compare, understand why the info was presented, and the problem the data can solve.

Review: It is critical to review and conduct a comprehensive follow-up to ensure that you have reached the right conclusion.

Conclusion: Publish your opinion with confidence as you have gone through all the necessary steps.


When you are asked during an interview about your ability to problem solve, the question is how you deal with stress or react to complex challenges or unexpected situations. Companies want someone who can quickly think on their feet and rise to the challenge.
Thus, this cognitive skill can apply to any field of expertise.

What makes a solid problem solver?

• Pinpoint the source of the problem, evaluate the varying factors, and devise a resolution.
• Use teamwork to brainstorm as sometimes our solution might not work, but this too shows a will to find a solution.
• Run an analysis of your solution to see how it might impact costs, resources, workforce, and note which factors might impede success.
• Now comes the implementation of your solution, but make sure to include clear benchmarks to record progress.
• Lastly, an excellent problem solver will know how to evaluate the solution's effectiveness and make changes where needed.

Sharpening your problem-solving abilities:

Study: You want to learn everything there is to know about your field; the more technical and streetwise you are, you will solve issues faster. Think like a sponge.

Step In: Step into the fray by exposing yourself to new issues, volunteer for projects, and get as much experience as you can.

Observe: It is important to learn from others and do this by seeking out mentors in the field and colleagues who have more experience than you. Learn from them and improve the methodology.

Practice: You can read up, and role play with colleagues to practice for any professional scenario under, from handing an angry customer to a big presentation for the executives.

Learning skills

This is a broad term that covers our habits, which dictate our ability to learn and work. These habits are always in flux because we are constantly affected by our surroundings. This is another cognitive skill that can be applied to anything and everything, so it is critical for any open position.

What are the signs of a top learner?

• Organization Time management, notetaking, multitasking, productivity event coordination, and more.
• Communication: Situation analysis, respect, writing, public speaking, media literacy, active listening, empath, and more.
• Collaboration: Engagement, goal setting, reliability, task delegation, leadership, conflict resolution, compromise, and more.
Creativity: Brainstorming, creative writing, innovation, curiosity, adaptability, entertaining, overturning, and more.
• Critical Thinking: Text interpretation, self-regulation, inferencing, evaluation, attention to detail, comparing, annotative reading, and more.

Widening your scope for knowledge

So, how can you ensure that you effectively continue to grow in your ability to absorb more?
1. Know your weak spot: Everyone has a weak spot, and it is important to find it to become more effective on the day-to-day.
2. Work on your habits: Try setting timelines for yourself and incrementally shorten them so you can finish the task both quicker and with greater accuracy.
3. Public Speaking: Take a course in public speaking, as this is a great way to step outside your comfort zone and become more assertive, driven, and communicative.
4. Volunteer: Aside from work, we all have passions. Volunteering is a great way to strengthen team building, enhance time management, and increase empathy.

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