Ben is responsible for client delivery work at Test Partnership and usually serves as the main client of contact. He holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and is a registered test user of ability and personality testing.
Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret information. One example of analytical skills in action would be a financial analyst. A financial analyst is responsible for studying market trends, evaluating financial statements, and making recommendations to clients or management on potential investments or financial decisions.
When analysing financial data, employees with exceptional analytical skills will do their best to correctly interpret the information provided, make correct inferences from their initial datasets, and provide effective and actionable recommendations on the basis of that data.
Analytical skills are essential to performance in moderate-highly complex work, especially in roles where meaningful decisions are made based on the analyses conducted by those employees. Similarly, in roles where staff must juggle several objectives, prioritisation skills underpins a person’s ability to keep up with their tasks, focus on the most important tasks, and objectively weigh up options when making decisions.
"Data is only as useful as the person analysing it" - Ben Schwencke
Those lacking in analytical skills will have difficulty correctly interpreting data, and thus make ill-informed decisions using that data as a basis. Naturally, data is only ever as useful as the person(s) analysing it and handing key data to employees without analytical skills represents a massive opportunity cost to the employer. Moreover, following the recommendations of these employees can be potentially hazardous for the organisation, and in high stakes industries (engineering, energy, healthcare etc), could potentially put people’s lives at risk.
To perform these tasks, a financial analyst must be able to collect and organize large amounts of financial data, such as stock prices, economic indicators, and company financial statements. They must then be able to analyze this information, looking for patterns and trends that can provide insight into the performance of a particular investment or the overall state of the market. Finally, they must be able to interpret this information and use it to make informed recommendations to clients or management.
This process requires a strong attention to detail, the ability to think critically and logically, and a deep understanding of financial concepts and tools.
Organisations are increasingly relying on data, analytics, and complex modelling to make informed decisions, predictions, and forecasts. Analytical skills strongly underpin a person’s ability to work with data, enabling employees to make reasoned, informed recommendations based on complex quantitative, qualitative, or abstract information.
"The more effective staff are at interpreting these data, the greater the ROI these organisations will see from their staff" - Ben Schwencke
In more senior roles, analytical skills will strongly underpin an executive’s ability to make informed decisions and truly understand the situation on the ground. When key staff lack analytical skills, the decisions they make are disproportionately likely to be flawed, potentially leading the organisation astray.
As a competency, analytical skills are a common performance criterion for roles that require the analysis of complex quantitative, qualitative, or abstract information. These include, but are not limited to: finance professionals, accountancy and actuarial professionals, data scientists, management consultants, IT professionals, managers and executives. As a general rule, the more the role involves providing actionable information to decision makers based on collected data, the more important analytical skills will be, and the greater the opportunity cost associated with hiring staff that lack analytical skills.
One of the most important analytical skills is the ability to think critically and logically. This includes the ability to identify assumptions, evaluate evidence, and draw logical conclusions. This skill is essential for making sense of complex information and is useful in many different contexts, from financial analysis to product development.
Another important analytical skill is the ability to collect and organize data. This includes the ability to identify relevant data, extract it from various sources, and organize it in a way that makes it easy to analyze. This skill is essential for performing data analysis and is particularly important in fields like finance and marketing where data is the foundation of decision making.
Another important analytical skill is the ability to interpret data and make predictions. This includes the ability to understand the meaning of data and use it to make predictions about future trends and events. This skill is essential for forecasting and planning and is particularly important in fields like finance and business.
Analytical skills as psychological constructs are strongly underpinned by specific reasoning abilities. The ability to work with quantitative information is underpinned by a person’s level of numerical reasoning. A person’s ability to work with qualitative information is underpinned by their verbal reasoning ability. And a person’s ability to work with abstract information is underpinned by their level of abstract / inductive reasoning ability. When multiple aptitude tests are combined into an overall battery of assessments, the aggregate score on these assessments provides an excellent proxy for a candidate’s overall level of analytical skills.
At assessment centres, certain exercises such as a case study exercise can also provide a useful indication of a candidate’s analytical skills. However, assessment centres are typically reserved for the later stages of the recruitment process, and are very time consuming for both candidates and assessors.
Considering the importance of analytical skills, it is always recommended to gauge each candidates’ analytical skills as early as possible, ensuring that only those with exceptional analytical skills are invited to the assessment centre in the first place.