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Spatial Reasoning: Creative Problem-Solving at Work

Guy Thornton
Guy Thornton June 01, 2019
Spatial Reasoning

Have you ever had a problem that only looking sideways solved? That was your spatial reasoning at work. Many mobile games use this popular premise for gameplay. But, it’s applicable in different areas of your life. And, it’s also one of the leading skills employers look for when vetting a candidate.

When you give your candidate cognitive aptitude tests, this is what you hope to see. Thinking outside the box is one way to look at it. And such spatial reasoning has many applications in the workplace. Here are the three of the main ones:

1. Cognitive Aptitude tests/Spatial Reasoning = Predictive Job Performance Long-Term

One of the reasons you give cognitive aptitude tests is its ability to predict job performance. They can tell you more than an interview can. Or even reading accomplishments off a resume. But, what’s so special about a test? The simple answer is: it measures how a person makes decisions. This skill, more than any other, is highly valued. Showing aptitude for spatial reasoning gives insight on how adaptable a person is to different situations, and how they do it. Testing for this ability is especially important when you are hiring for certain types of positions. For instance, someone who works alone will need to find solutions by themselves. Or, someone who oversees others will need to essentially make the abstract workers fit into a cohesive team. Anyone who does not have strong spatial reasoning would either freeze up or give up. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, or maybe not even see the problem. But a spatial thinker would see every component and find a solution.

2. Spatial Reasoning = Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

Imagine seeing shapes that fit in a certain order. But, at first glance it seems it can’t happen. This is where your spatial reasoning comes in. You take that abstract concept of the shape problem and find a solution. Critical thinking and problem-solving ability go hand-in-hand with spatial reasoning. A study on spatial thinking supports the idea that it is a handful of skills, not one ability, that make up spatial reasoning. So, without the two, you won’t see the pattern and solution. You would just see a bunch of shapes. Or even worse: not realize that there is a problem to solve. Finally, the ability to understand the relationship between these abstract shapes, or a workplace problem, is invaluable. That understanding allows for a solution. Imagine attempting to pass through a dense forest. If you can only see the trees, how will you find the path?

3. It Measures Innate Talent: Not Background Education, Culture, or Language

Spatial reasoning also goes beyond normal boundaries that education, culture, or even language can butt up against. Dealing with abstract problem solving with pictures and shapes don’t require translation. So, nothing gets lost when finding the problem and solution. Therefore, it’s one of the best ways to measure natural ability. A candidate that can solve problems in the abstract will do wonders at practical applications. And, though it is just one piece of a larger hiring puzzle, it is a very large piece to consider.

Guy Thornton
Guy Thornton June 01, 2019

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