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Logical thinking: Why is it crucial in the workplace?

Good logical thinking skills make job candidates stand out. They also make working life more productive and are essential for particular job roles.

Luckily, you pick up logical thinking skills in a whole range of school subjects – not only maths, but chemistry, computer science, sociology and even English!

'You don't just gain logical thinking in maths - but from subjects like chemistry, sociology and even English'

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In this article, we define logical thinking and explain how it is used in school subject and in the workplace.

What is logical thinking?

Girl thinking
Logical thinking involves taking the relevant
information and organising it into a sequence

Logical thinking is the process of applying a chain of reasoning to overcome a problem and reach a conclusion. It is a good technique for solving highly complex problems, providing the mental tools to tackling seemingly insurmountable challenges.

So what does logical thinking look like in practice? Logical thinking involves taking the relevant information and organising it into a sequence, then thinking through it in steps. While you can analyse and solve each step in and of itself, together they are part of the overall structure of the problem. As you move through the steps, you move closer to solving the problem itself.

A good example of logical thinking in action is the game of chess. Playing chess involves working through a sequence of individual steps which take you closer to victory. Each step is an individual problem to be solved – within the framework of a larger game.

There is evidence that practising logical thinking can make you cleverer! Equipped with logical thinking skills, you’re no longer stumped when faced with tough problems. You have the tools at your disposal to approach the problem systematically and work out an answer.

Logical thinking at school

Logical thinking is fundamental to maths – taking the information you are given and working out what to do with it as well as the steps needed to reach a solution.

It isn’t just used in maths. Here are some other school subjects logical thinking is used in:

  • Chemistry: Setting up an experiment involves working out what chemicals and apparatus you need and what steps you need to take to reach a conclusion.
  • Computing: The algorithms used by computers, smartphones and other electronic devices are in fact sets of logical instructions created by programmers.
  • Geography: In field work, you will need to establish what observations are required to collect useful data, and how that data needs to be processed to reach valuable findings.
  • Sociology: Social scientists need to know what data collection methods and analysis techniques are required to reach meaningful conclusions about their research area.

You might be surprised to learn that logical thinking is also useful in arts and humanities subjects. History, for example, is full of mysteries to be solved by combining primary and secondary sources with an understanding of the wider context in which events happened. Good historians must establish what information is available, what is missing and what contextual information may be valuable to develop a compelling account or interpretation of historical events. You will also benefit from applying logical thinking to other arts and humanities subjects such as philosophy, religious studies and English.

Using logical thinking at work

Computer programmers
Logical thinking is vital for certain roles, including comptuer

Logical thinking is vital for particular jobs, including the following:

While being directly relevant in these jobs, logical thinking is also a useful and highly sought-after skill in other roles as well. This includes professions such as advertising executive, content writer, gas and plumbing technician, market researcher, mechanic, project manager, salesperson and teacher. As well as helping you do your day-to-day job more effectively, it will also help you develop a more efficient approach to work, making you more productive.

Demonstrating logical thinking skills

There are 2 common ways of assessing a candidate’s logical thinking skills in job application processes:

Questions in interview: Particularly for highly complex jobs, such as computer programmer, where you are expected to use logic in your day-to-day work, you may be thrown a logic puzzle to solve during an interview.

Interview test: Interview processes are often accompanied by tests or exercises, particularly for jobs where specific skills are required. You may face a logical thinking problem in a test such as this as employers try to establish how advanced your logic skills are.

Don’t worry! Employers don’t necessarily expect you to get the answer right, they are more interested in the mental processes you take to reach your solution. They may also be testing other skills such as determination and diligence, so don’t despair if you struggle to get to a solution you are happy with.

If you found this article useful, check out our advice piece on lateral thinking skills – which are also in demand by employers.

Images: Computer programmers by "WOCinTech Chat" via Flickr