Today, companies are focusing less on resumes and work experience when evaluating candidates and more on data-driven metrics like cognitive aptitude.
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Fast becoming a key metric for many hiring managers, cognitive aptitude is the ability to think, process, and react nimbly to solve problems or learn new information. While resumes can lay out a person's history in a role or industry, they rarely provide insight into a person's full potential. Cognitive aptitude delivers this broad perspective, allowing companies to evaluate the long-term potential of an applicant by assessing their ability to learn quickly, adapt, and grow within a role.
Some companies gauge cognitive aptitude with assessments that measure job-relevant cognitive abilities, such as creative thinking, problem solving, attention to detail, and learning ability. But what if the organization doesn't give you an assessment? How can you, as a job seeker, prove you have the cognitive aptitude to succeed?
You can do so by demonstrating these key components of cognitive aptitude in your interview:
1. Intellectual Curiosity
Employees who want to know more about the world around them and how things work are likely to strive to improve themselves and the business. The intellectually curious will grow with a company and be able to think outside the box to face any challenges that may arise.
How to Showcase Your Intellectual Curiosity
Demonstrate a thirst for knowledge in your interview by first researching the company and the role as much as possible. Then, during the interview, ask insightful questions based on this research.
You can also tell the interviewer about a time when you independently learned a new skill. If you don't have a lot of work experience, this can be a great opportunity to bring up hobbies or extracurriculars that aren't directly related to the job itself. Your hobbies can provide insight into the unique ways in which you flex your creativity in your everyday life, with the added bonus of making you more memorable to your interviewers.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
Employees who think critically and pose unique solutions to problems drive business innovation. A problem-solver, especially a proactive one, combines creativity, efficiency, and pragmatism to find the best solution for the situation at hand. A great creative thinker can identify the opportunity that lies within the dilemma.
How to Showcase Your Problem-Solving Skills
Advertise your talent for finding solutions by talking about a previous experience where you overcame an obstacle. Make sure to detail the problem you identified, the way you worked to improve the situation, and how your fix made an impact. Bonus points if you're able to quantify your accomplishments in a tangible way.
3. Attention to Detail
Employees who pay attention to detail can hone in on the small but vital elements of a project or situation that would otherwise go overlooked. This is a skill employers across industries look for because it can mean the difference between the success and failure of a business. A problem can't be effectively tackled unless employees are able to first break it down to the nitty-gritty.
How to Showcase Your Problem-Solving Skills
Being detail-oriented coincides with many other traits hiring managers look for, like focus, discipline, and work ethic. To demonstrate these traits in an interview, research the company ahead of time and ask detailed questions that show you took the time to familiarize yourself with the company.
You can also call attention to your meticulous nature by presenting yourself well during the interview. Being neatly dressed, on time, and attentive will go a long way in making a lasting impression. During the interview, engage in active listening to make sure you understand your interviewer's questions and respond with relevant answers.
4. Learning Ability
Whenever a company brings in a new employee, it invests an incredible amount of money and time in training that new hire to get them up to speed. Hiring a fast learner allows a business to hedge its bets, taking comfort in the knowledge that the new hire will swiftly become a productive member of the workforce. Employees who learn and apply new information quickly are able to pick up new skills more easily than others. These employees are likely to grow within a company and respond flexibly to the changes and challenges all businesses invariably face.
How to Showcase Your Learning Ability
Demonstrating your learning ability is especially important for job seekers who are new to the workforce or entering new career paths, as their resumes may be particularly light. To convince an interviewer you're up to the challenge even if you don't fulfill all the job requirements, talk about what your learning targets would be if hired for the role. What skills would you be most interested in acquiring, and how would you go about learning them?
Share examples from past roles or your extracurricular activities where you were able to learn something new to reach a certain goal. Highlighting your learning ability will give your interviewer a clear picture of how you will fit into the company in both the short and long term.
Whether you focus on showing off one of these crucial elements of cognitive aptitude or weave them all together, doing so will demonstrate your full potential as an amazing hire far beyond the experience listed on your resume.
The best way to get your point across is through preparation. Brainstorm ahead of time examples and stories that accurately depict your cognitive abilities. Sharing these stories is a surefire way to impress hiring managers.