How to demonstrate analytical thinking skills in a professional context?

Having a skill and demonstrating it are two separate things. Especially when it comes to analytical thinkers, they’re usually very good at doing the thinking, not necessarily showing that they can do it. This is why apart from having analytical skills, it’s equally important to know how to demonstrate analytical thinking in various situations in a professional context.

In a conversation

When someone wants to know your opinion, hear your perspective on a problem or just bounce ideas off you, take it as a tell-tale sign that you’re coming across as a strong thinker in the first place. But to emphasise your analytical thinking skills in a conversation in particular, start by restating and rephrasing the question, problem or issue to make sure you understood it correctly. This also gives you time to think about your answer, but don’t hesitate to ask for a few seconds to think. When responding, your answer should be structured. My colleagues often hear me say: “Well, there are three aspects to think about…” or “We need to get to the root cause first…”. My husband, who is basically paid for being an analytical thinker, sometimes drives me crazy by starting with “We need to break this issue down…” when I ask for his views – but he’s of course right! After you break your answer down and give your structured opinion, make sure you summarise the main point for the speaker.

In a work meeting

Analytical thinkers are important additions to most work meetings. Their approach brings in the structure that makes sure it’s not another this-should-have-been-an-email kind of a meeting. To show off your analytical thinking skills, always prepare and circulate an agenda ahead of a meeting. You also should know the problem that the meeting is supposed to address and ensure that others know too, so you have their buy-in. The biggest advantage of having an analytical thinker in a work meeting shows when they come to the meeting and communicate at the start the desired outcome, and then drive everyone back on track to make sure this outcome is achieved. Analytical thinkers also usually write up great summaries that organise what was discussed and action points in a clear and logical way.

In a job interview

It’s most likely that if you have to display analytical thinking skills in a job interview, the job itself will require you to use these skills in practice. The interview then may be structured around solving a case study, or you may expect problem-based questions that concern the company you’re interviewing with. You should also be prepared to answer questions about problems you encountered in the past and how you solved them, as well as hypothetical problem statements. In all these cases, make sure you restate the problem, ask for more information if needed, and explain your thought process as you give a structured answer (consider using an analytical thinking tool!). The interviewer is not that interested in the answer you give, but rather in how you think – and you need to show you think analytically.

On a CV

Similarly to an interview, if the job you’re applying for requires you to use analytical thinking on a day-to-day basis, you have to show you have these skills on your CV. A good way to do this is to outline problems that you solved in the past and how you did it – this reflects how you think. You also want to show how you arrived at detailed and specific results, rather than just talking in general about your skills and abilities. The overall CV should be organised and structured.

In writing

Whatever you’re writing when you have to show analytical thinking, always start by restating the problem and telling the reader how you’re going to break it down. Adopt a clear structure of your piece of writing and communicate it in advance. You can tell that I’m an analytical thinker from the way I write my blog posts, for example. I have to stop myself from using the very same structure every single time, otherwise each article would start by stating the problem and then me telling you that I’ll next describe six ways to solve it, starting with a description and followed by an example in each case. I don’t need to write like this in every article, but when you have to show you think analytically – do do this! And don’t forget to synthesise a conclusion by the end.

In an email

Emails can score you some quick points in terms of showing you’re an analytical thinker, and in my experience most of the time people on the receiving end appreciate exchanging emails with those who think and write analytically. The most important aspect here is to organise your email by themes or points, and clearly separate statements from questions from action points (best if they’re directed and addressed to specific recipients if you’re emailing more than one person). Divide your email into paragraphs as well, as it’s much easier to read it this way.

Now, have you ever been in any other situation in a business or professional context where you had to demonstrate you were an analytical thinker? What was this situation and how did you show your skills? Let me know!

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Marta Stelmaszak Rosa
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I'm a researcher, academic and writer dedicated to becoming a better thinker. Every day, I practise thinkfulness: consciously adopting a structured approach to thinking in order to understand and change the world. The world needs all of us to become better thinkers, so let's start a thinkfulness revolution together!

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