Analytical Thinking: Definition, Examples and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 31 August 2021 | Published 26 June 2021

Updated 31 August 2021

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Analytical thinking skills are soft skills that can help you make decisions effectively. Employees who have strong analytical skills can help solve an organisation's problems and improve its overall productivity. Understanding how to improve your analytical skills and how to highlight them during the hiring process can increase your chances of getting hired for the job you're applying for. In this article, we discuss what strong analytical skills are, explore some examples of analytical skills, learn how to improve them and how to highlight them on your CV and job interview.

What are strong analytical skills?

Strong analytical skills refer to your ability to interpret, research and observe an issue or problem in order to develop effective solutions and ideas. You can apply your analytical skills in every situation, such as developing products, processes, identifying the client's needs and predicting customer behaviour, among others. Analysing a problem or issue requires you to have a deep understanding of the subject so that you can make informed decisions.

Related: Selecting the Right CV Skills in 5 Simple Steps

What is the purpose of analytical thinking?

Analytical skills can help you find effective solutions to common problems or issues and make informed decisions about the next steps. Analysing the situation and understanding problems to identify potential solutions is a key skill in every job at every level. Developing this skill can improve your work, help you meet company goals and eventually can lead you to achieve your own personal career goals.

If you use analytical skills in your day-to-day tasks, it may show that you're a pragmatic and reliable thinker whose able to make decisions according to meaningful data. For instance, say you have a limited amount of time to spend on work each day. Thinking about how you spend your valuable time to make an impact on your organisation can quickly make you an indispensable and valued team member. You can utilise your analytical skills to prioritise tasks that help you make the most progress towards your goals.

What is the difference between analytical and critical thinking?

Analytical thinking is the act of separating ideas or pieces of information into smaller parts in order to make them easier to understand. It often involves systematically dismantling information or data to understand facts, which you can use to build upon information or create an evidence-based conclusion.

Conversely, critical thinking is a type of analytical skill. It allows you to evaluate viewpoints or information and interpret them to make good independent judgments. It's also cyclical, which means you can go around and around considering facts to create an opinion or just determine whether a piece of information is valid or makes sense.

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Examples of analytical thinking

There are a number of analytical skills worth highlighting on your CV. Here are some examples:

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is necessary for every position at every level, from individual contributors and associates to entrepreneurs and chief executive officers (CEOs). Critical thinking skills can provide you with the ability to evaluate an opinion, assertion or idea. For instance, if you have been told that a particular goal is impossible to meet or a certain task is impossible to complete, critical thinking requires you to ask deeper questions in order to understand the issue and determine its root cause. Some of the questions you might ask yourself include:

  • Why can't we complete the task?

  • Can expertise, labour force and money allow us to solve the problem?

  • Can solving the problem be worth the reward?

  • What might we spend our time and efforts on instead of addressing this problem?

  • What would be the benefit of investing in other areas instead?

Information and data analysis

Information and data analysis is one of the key parts of analytical thinking. After identifying a problem, it's important to determine how to review and analyse the information or data that will be crucial for solving the problem. Gathering the right information is a vital part of being able to use analytical thinking skills. To gather the right information, it's important that you know the right questions to ask.

Research

Research is a crucial part of the analytical thinking process. Once you have identified a problem, it's important to conduct research to determine potential solutions. You can ask a manager or co-worker who may have a deeper understanding of the problem or conduct more thorough online research to determine more reliable sources. Also, part of the research process involves identifying what information is essential or valuable to solving the issue.

Communication

It's important to communicate with coworkers, managers and other stakeholders regularly while identifying problems, developing a potential solution, performing research and analysing results. Once you have identified a solution or problem, communicating it to your team and key stakeholders is essential to meet the end goal. Communicating this information thoroughly and clearly is an important skill in the analytical thinking process.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Problem-solving

Once you have identified a situation, problem or area of improvement and completed your research, it's important to look for a solution. You can use your ability to think analytically to sort and organise the information you have gathered during the research phase. This way, you can determine an effective and reasonable solution with the aid of your problem-solving skills.

How to improve your analytical thinking

Here are a few ways you can improve your analytical thinking:

1. Develop your mathematical skills

All forms of mathematics are highly logical, so improving your mathematical skills can be a great way to enhance your analytical skills. Consider practising various forms of mathematical problems to help build your problem-solving capabilities and logic. You can also take an online or college-level math course. Reasoning with others can also help you build your analytical skills.

2. Read more

One of the important parts of being analytical involves remaining stimulated and being alert. Consider reading more books or participating in a book club. Reading on a more regular basis can improve your cognitive ability. It can also encourage your brain to think creatively and to view concepts from a different perspective.

3. Learn new things

Broadening your knowledge can also help improve your analytical thinking skills. The more things you learn, the more information and ways you can have when it comes to analysing situations and solving problems. Consider learning about something that you have a passion for or activities you find interesting. You can also take an online course in a field you aren't familiar with.

4. Play brain games

Brain games can challenge your mind to think logically and deeply. Since brain games are entertaining, they are usually a preferred method used to improve your analytical thinking skills. Examples of brain games include board games, crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

5. Be more observant

Paying attention to detail and being observant can be a great way to improve your analytical thinking skills. It can help you process how things interact and work. If you use your senses and actively engage in the world around you, you can hone your analytical thinking skills. You can go for a walk and observe the insects or birds and how they interact. Being more observant of the minute details in life can help you incorporate these skills in the workplace.

Tips for highlighting your analytical thinking skills

Here are a few tips for highlighting your analytical thinking skills during the job application process:

On your CV

There are three sections in your CV where you can highlight your analytical skills. These include your personal objective or summary, skills and professional history sections. Here's an example of how you can list analytical skills in each of these CV sections:

Personal summary

Here's an example explaining how you can share your analytical skills in your personal summary section:

Organised account manager with over four years of experience effectively identifying the needs of customers and addressing those needs.

Professional history

Here's an example explaining how you can share your analytical skills in your professional history section:

Account Manager

J&E Company

April 2018-Present

  • Expanded and maintained relationships with core clients.

  • Generated monthly accounts analysis and closing reports.

  • Helped determine innovative ways to improve communication methods with customers.

  • Liaised with other account managers on core customers.

Skills

Here's an example explaining how you can state your analytical skills in the skills section of your CV:

Administrative assistant skills: Problem-solving, critical thinking, resourcefulness, time management, ability to anticipate needs and communication.

In your cover letter

After reviewing the job advertisement, narrate a specific story in your cover letter about a time when you utilised analytical thinking skills that apply to the employer. Connect your story back to the position you're applying for and discuss why it makes you a strong job candidate. Where possible, use numbers to justify your impact.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter

During your job interview

During your job interview, provide detailed answers about how you have utilised your analytical skills in your previous jobs and how they solved problems for your previous employer. You may also highlight your analytical skills through pre-employment evaluations that some employers use to assess candidates. These are common in technical positions, such as developers and data analysts.

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