Employee Critical Thinking and Judgment as Important as Knowledge to Job Performance

When it comes to measuring the skills of the workforce, employers place too much emphasis on a worker’s ability to regurgitate facts and not enough on how they apply their knowledge to workplace situations. Questionmark, the online assessment provider has identified five strategies to help employers go “above knowledge” when testing workers’ skills.

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The workforce needs a range of modern skills to compete in an ever-changing business environment. The ability to recall knowledge remains useful but it is no longer enough.

John Kleeman, Founder of Questionmark, said: “Simply testing someone’s knowledge recall is fine if you want them to win a game show. But by 2025, critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities will be the most important modern skills that employers need according to the World Economic Forum.”

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In a new white paper, “Five Practical Approaches to Test Beyond Recall”, Questionmark sets out five strategies to test a candidate’s ability to apply, rather than just recall the knowledge they possess:

  • Tailor questions to context – multiple-choice questions are more effective when a test taker has to show that they know how to apply the knowledge to a given situation. For example, rather than asking them which color traffic light means “stop”, a more effective question could set out a driving scenario and ask participants to choose the best response.
  • Ask participants to do more than choose an option from a list – different question types enable test takers to demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge. For example, match questions ask people to pair up items from one list with items from another list, showing broader understanding of the topic. It also makes questions harder to guess
  • Test judgment under pressure – all jobs require an employee to use their judgment to solve a dilemma. The right situational judgment tests can assess a candidate’s ability to make good decisions under pressure.
  • Knowledge in action – configuring a live virtual machine “lab” enables test-takers to perform practical tasks using any approach they choose, and they are graded on how they perform. This is a particularly good approach when measuring the skills of IT staff.
  • Demonstrating competence – where an instructor or supervisor observes someone doing a practical task.

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