NUMERICAL REASONING TEST
This is a numerical reasoning test similar to those used by many employers when recruiting. It also shows how the answers are worked out.
Although this test is fairly typical of the types of test many employers use, please remember that it is for practise only. It is not being taken under examination conditions, and therefore although you are given a score, this is just to satisfy your curiosity and to give you a target to aim for.
- You are allowed to use scrap paper during this test. Please have a pen and scrap paper to hand before you start the test.
- The results of the test are not normed for calculators. If you use one you will not be able to get a measure of your performance against other students. Our second practice Numerical Reasoning Test does allow you to use a calculator.
The test will start with 2 example questions which will not be marked or timed. Click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. Some questions have graphs or tables which you will need to refer to. These will be displayed above the question.
GRAPHS AND TABLES TEST
This is a numerical reasoning test similar to those used by many employers when recruiting graduates. It also shows how to work out the answers. This test is very similar to those used for finance job recruitment: banking, accountancy and insurance.
Although this test is fairly typical of the types of test many employers use, please remember that it is for practise only. It is not being taken under examination conditions, and therefore although you are given a score, this is just to satisfy your curiosity and to give you a target to aim for.
You are strongly recommended to use a calculator and scrap paper during this test. Please have a pen and scrap paper to hand before you start.
The test will start with 3 example questions which will not be marked or timed. The test consists of 22 questions and you will have 25 minutes to answer these. As this is a practice test you can continue to answer questions after the formal test has finished if you wish to. Click on the “Go to First Example” button below to begin. Click on the button to the left of your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. Questions have graphs or tables which you will need to refer to. These will be displayed above the question.
Sequences (Logical Reasoning) Test
This test involves letter sequences and tests your ability to think logically and analytically. Some employers use similar tests as part of their selection procedures and this test will give you some idea of what to expect.
The test has 27 questions and you will have 12 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 12 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. You can still continue answering questions for practice after this point, but your score will not change.
The test will start with two example questions which will not be marked or timed. Look at the sequence and work out which of the five numbers below it is the next member of the sequence. Now click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. When you have finished the test click on“Get Your Score”
The alphabet is given below to help you:
NON-VERBAL REASONING TEST
This is a non-verbal reasoning test similar to those used by many employers when recruiting. It also shows how the answers are worked out. Although this test is fairly typical of the types of test employers use, please remember that it is for practice only. It is not being taken under examination conditions, and therefore although you are given a score, this is to satisfy your curiosity and to give you a target to aim for.
This test will test your non-verbal reasoning as the questions appear in diagrammatic and pictorial form. Such test are also called diagrammatic or abstract reasoning tests.
Non-verbal reasoning involves the ability to understand and analyse visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning. For example: identifying relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns, recognizing visual sequences and relationships between objects, and remembering these.
It enables students to analyse and solve complex problems without relying upon or being limited by language skills. As these tests don’t require reading they can give insight into the abilities of those who have problems with reading and thinking verbally, those who may lack motivation, whose native language isn’t English and those with specific learning difficulties.
They involve the ability to reason with novel material, without the need to draw on learned knowledge and measure how easily you may acquire new concepts in subjects such as mathematics, physics, computing, engineering, science, design and technology, architecture and other jobs which involve working with visual information such as air traffic controller and pilot.
Diagrammatic and spatial reasoning are different but frequently confused.
Diagrammatic reasoning (also called abstract reasoning) tests provide good measures of general intelligence. They involve evaluating processes represented via diagrams, understanding logical rules and process diagrams and identifying causes. Abstract reasoning is used where the ability to cope with complexity and deal with novelty is required rather than relying on previous experience.
Spatial reasoning tests predict the ability to work with complex plans. Spatial reasoning involves mentally rotating two dimensional representations of three dimensional shapes. It is needed in engineering settings, architecture and interior design.
This test has 20 questions and you will have 12 minutes to answer these. At the end of the test (when 12 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. You can still continue to answer questions after this point, but your score will not change. If you finish early and want your results, click on “Get Your Score”.
The test will start with 2 example questions which will not be marked or timed.
In the first example the top row of four boxes make up a series from left to right. You have to decide which of the 5 boxes underneath, marked A to E, will be the next in the sequence. For example in the first example, the top four boxes have 1, 2 , 3 , and 4 dots respectively. Obviously, the next box in the sequence will have 5 dots, which is box D, so click on button B to answer.
Click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on one of the buttons next to the letters A to E to answer. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button.
VERBAL REASONING – COMPREHENSION EXERCISE
I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.
These practice tests are designed for UNIVERSITY OF KENT STUDENTS AND GRADUATES.
Other web users are most welcome to use this test, but no feedback can be given or correspondence entered into regarding results.
Most employers who use psychometric tests in graduate selection will include a verbal reasoning test. This is because there are very few graduate careers which don’t require the ability to understand, analyse and interpret written information, often of a complex or specialised nature.
This test includes a number of short passages of text followed by statements based on the information given in the passage. You are asked to indicate whether the statements are true or false, or whether it is not possible to say so either way. In answering these questions, use only the information given in the passage and do not try and answer them in the light of any more detailed knowledge which you personally may have.
Below you will find an example question to try. It is a selection of a passage of text which will be followed by four statements. Read the passage carefully and then, using only the information given in the passage, for each statement choose whether it isdefinitely true, definitely untrue, or you have insufficient information to answer.
The test has 32 questions and you will have 20 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 20 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. You can still continue answering questions for practice after this point, but your score will not change.
The test will start with four example questions which will not be marked or timed. Now click on the “First Question”button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. When you have finished the test, click on “Get Your Score”.
VERBAL TEST (Synonyms and Antonyms)
This test tests your knowledge of the English Language. by the use of synonyms and antonyms. Some employers use similar tests as part of their selection procedures and this test will give you some idea of what to expect.
- A synonym is simply a word which is identical in sense and usage with another, for example fast is a synonym of quick.
- An antonym is a word which is of contrary meaning to another – hot is an antonym of cold.
The test has 39 questions and you will have 5 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 5 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. You can still continue answering questions for practice after this point, but your score will not change. In the test you will not be told which words are synonyms and which are antonyms.
The test will start with two example questions which will not be marked or timed. Look at the word and work out which of the three other words below it is either its synonym or antonym. Now click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. When you have finished the test click on“Get Your Score”
The answers to the examples are as follows:
- easy – the answer is of course “difficult” because difficult is the opposite (antonym) of easy.
- closed – the answer is “shut” because shut has a similar meaning (synonym) to closed.
Verbal Logic Test
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
This practice test involves verbal logic puzzles, some of which have a numerical element. They test your ability to think logically, analytically and numerically, and also to extract meaning from complex information.. Some employers use similar tests as part of their selection procedures and this test will give you some idea of what to expect.
The test has 21 questions and you will have 40 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 40 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. You are allowed to use scrap paper and a calculator for working out answers.
The test will start with three easy example questions which will not be marked or timed. Now click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. When you have finished the test click on “Get Your Score”
Computer Programming Aptitude Test
Aptitude tests for computing jobs broadly fall into three groups:
- A standard battery of tests assessing competencies such as numerical reasoning, logical reasoning and non-verbal reasoning which are required in technical computing jobs.
- A hybrid test comprising of elements involving logical reasoning, numerical problem solving, pattern recognition, ability to follow complex procedures and attention to detail. Neither of these first two types of test require any knowledge of programming
- A programming simulation involving pseudocode, control structures (e.g. loops), look-up tables, sets, arrays, boolean true/false, looping and other programming structures. These are given to experienced programmers to assess their competence.
The test given here is a hybrid test (type 2 above). Hybrid tests involve:
- Logical thinking and problem solving.
Numerical problem solving is analogous to the trouble shooting required in programming
- Pattern and syntax recognition. Involves recognising similarities and differences in strings of characters and numbers, understanding graphical representations of procedures and symbols, finding which element does not match the corresponding elements and information checking and attention to detail: a single misplaced semi-colon or bracket can crash a program.
- Ability to follow complex procedures. Involves following coded instructions and rules, sequencing events into a logical order, sorting and manipulating lists of items according to specific instructions, deciding how one set of instructions affects another and interpreting flow diagrams.
Other attributes required by programmers and other computing professionals
- Time management
- Clear, concise documentation: software development involves writing things down and looking them up again.
- Ability to quickly learn new skills and update existing ones by teaching yourself.
Also a receptivity to new ideas: computing is a fast changing environment!
- Programmers also need to be reasonably quick coders, although accuracy is more important than speed.
- For more information about this click on the programming tests tab on our psychometric tests page
The test has 26 questions and you will have 40 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 40 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score. Please use SCRAP PAPER and a CALCULATOR for working out answers. Please note that this is quite a demanding test.
The test will start with three easy example questions which will not be marked or timed. Now click on the “Go to First Example” button below to begin. Click on the radio button next to your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. If you are certain you have finished the test you can click on “Get Your Score”.
This is a test of your knowledge of the meanings of different words. It is a moderately difficult test and uses some rarely heard words.
The test will start with 3 example questions which will not be marked or timed. The test consists of 44 questions and you will have 10 minutes to answer these. Click on the “Go to First Example” button below to begin. Click on the button to the left of your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button.
Homonyms are words that sound the same but have different meanings, for example fair (light skinned) and fair (reasonable). Homophones are a type of homonym that also sound the same and have different meanings, but also have different spellings, for example aloud and allowed.
Many homonyms and homophones are commonly and increasingly confused in CVs, covering letters and application forms. This seems to be stemming from the use of on-line thesauruses in word-processors, when an applicant will try to replace a short word, with a more impressively sounding longer word, but without quite understanding its precise meaning!
The test has 55 questions and you will have 6 minutes to do them. At the end of the test (when 6 minutes have elapsed), you will be given a score.
The test will start with three easy example questions which will not be marked or timed. Look at the sequence and work out which of the five numbers below it is the next member of the sequence. Now click on the “First Question” button below to begin. Click on the button beneath your answer to answer it. You can change your answer by clicking on another button.You can also go back to the previous question, by clicking on the previous question button. When you have finished the test click on “Get Your Score”
Spelling and Punctuation Test
Test your ability to spell and punctuate correctly in CVs, covering letters and application forms.
A survey by forum3 found that spelling mistakes and basic grammatical errors in job applications were the biggest turn-off for employers. Candidates sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes are 61% more likely to receive a reply and 26% more likely to be given an interview:
“In the age of the spell-checker, there is no excuse for spelling mistakes. It is one of employers’ main bug bears that some graduates, who are considered the most educated group in the country, make elementary spelling mistakes.”
However, using a spell checker is not sufficient, as errors such as fro instead of for, grate instead of great and form instead of from will not be picked up, so you need to read your application carefully as well. See our CVs Page for more details of the above research.
LATERAL THINKING SKILLS
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things.
Lateral thinking, is the ability to think creatively, or “outside the box” as it is sometimes referred to in business, to use your inspiration and imagination to solve problems by looking at them from unexpected perspectives. Lateral thinking involves discarding the obvious, leaving behind traditional modes of thought, and throwing away preconceptions.
It’s very important in careers such as advertising, marketing, the media and art and design where you may get questions in the selection process along the lines of “Write down one hundred ways to use a brick/paperclip”, but it can also be of value in the jobhunting process itself.
Lateral thinking in the jobhunting process
A number of graduates have tried the old and hackneyed methods of trying to gain the selector’s attention, such as enclosing a tea bag with their application, so that the selector could take a break to have a cup of tea before reading it. Others have send their CV to newspapers in a magazine format, but below are a couple of truly original approaches:
A graduate had been trying to get into investment banking, but without success and had exhausted all the normal routes. As a last resort, he had 100 postcard-sized CVs printed. He then went round the “Square Mile” in the City, where all the main financial organisations in London are located and proceeded to place one of these CVs under the windscreen of every Rolls Royce and top of the range BMW and Mercedes he came across. Next day, he had several ‘phone calls offering him interviews from the senior executives whom the cars belonged to. Note that we are not advocating this approach: one graduate jobseeker put up 200 poster sized CVs around Hull and ended up being fined for bill posting!
A student wanted to become a trainee journalist on her local newspaper. She decided to carefully analyse the content of the paper and compared it with similar local papers. She conducted a small survey of readers’ opinions on the paper by interviewing passers-by in the city centre. Using this information, she drew up a list of possible changes to the paper, wrote a sample article to show what she had in mind and sent these to the editor. The editor invited her in to discuss her suggestions – they had a long discussion and the next vacancy that arose was offered to her without competition.
|Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt.
Edward de Bono
Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.
Edward de Bono
If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.
Juan Ramón Jiménez
If people aren’t calling you crazy, you aren’t thinking big enough.
One New York graduate who wished to work in a top advertising agency Googled the names of the creative directors of these agencies and then spent just six dollars on a set of Google ads that were triggered when the directors searched for their own names. The adverts said “Hey, (creative directors name), Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too” Of the five directors he targeted, four gave him an interview and two offered him a jobwww.youtube.com/watch?v=7FRwCs99DWg
The chocolate bar CV. A job hunter made his CV as the wrapper for a chocolate bar. It turned out to be very popular with recruiters!www.cnbc.com/id/100482311
For more examples of lateral thinking in jobhunting see our Creative Careers Search page
and our Riddles test
Lateral Thinking Quiz
The following questions will test your ability to think laterally. If you get more than 50% of these right you’re certainly strong on your lateral thinking skills (or maybe you’re just good at quizzes!)
- A graduate applying for pilot training with a major airline was asked what he would do if, after a long-haul flight to Sydney, he met the captain wearing a dress in the hotel bar. What would you do?
Jackie Stewart, three times World Champion Formula One racing driver had undiagnosed dyslexia and was unable to complete his school education. He said: “When you’ve got dyslexia and you find something you’re good at, you put more into it than anyone else; you can’t think the way of the clever folk, so you’re always thinking out of the box.”
- A man built a rectangular house, each side having a southern view. He spotted a bear. What colour was the bear?
- If you were alone in a deserted house at night, and there was an oil lamp, a candle and firewood and you only have one match, which would you light first?
- What can you put in a wooden box that would make it lighter? The more of them you put in the lighter it becomes, yet the box stays empty.
- Which side of a cat contains the most hair?
- The 60th and 62nd British Prime Ministers of the UK had the same mother and father, but were not brothers. How do you account for this?
- How many birthdays does a typical woman have?
“The fear of making a mistake, of risking an error, or of being told you are wrong is constantly with us. And that’s a shame. Making mistakes is not the same thing as being creative, but if you are not willing to make mistakes, then it is impossible to be truly creative. I f your state of mind is coming from a place of fear and risk avoidance, then you will always settle for the safe solutions—the solutions already applied many times before.
Failing is ﬁne, necessary in fact. But avoiding experimentation or risk—especially out of fear of what others may think—is something that will gnaw at your gut more than any ephemeral failure. A failure is in the past. It’s done and over. In fact, it doesn’t exist. But worrying about “what might be if…” or “what might have been if I had… ” are pieces of baggage you carry around daily. They’re heavy, and they’ll kill your creative spirit. Take chances and stretch yourself. You’re only here on this planet once, and for a very short time at that. Why not just see how gifted you are?”
Daniel Garr – Presentation Zen
- Why can’t a man living in Canterbury be buried west of the River Stour?
- Is it legal for a man to marry his widow’s sister?
- If you drove a coach leaving Canterbury with 35 passengers, dropped off 6 and picked up 2 at Faversham, picked up 9 more at Sittingbourne, dropped off 3 at Chatham, and then drove on to arrive in London 40 minutes later, what colour are the driver’s eyes?
- A woman lives on the tenth floor of a block of flats. Every morning she takes the lift down to the ground floor and goes to work. In the evening, she gets into the lift, and, if there is someone else in the lift she goes back to her floor directly. Otherwise, she goes to the eighth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to her flat. How do you explain this?
- A window cleaner is cleaning the windows on the 25th floor of a skyscraper, when he slips and falls. He is not wearing a safety harness and nothing slows his fall, yet he suffered no injuries. Explain.
- The band of stars across the night sky is called the “…… Way”?
- Yogurt is made from fermented ……..
- What do cows drink?
I once visited a major pharmaceutical company to discuss their graduate recruitment for marketing. They told me that one of the key attributes they looked for was Helicopter Ability: the ability to soar above a problem and to see all aspects of it, to stand back and see the bigger picture, the wood rather than the trees. Creativity involves being able tothink outside the box to find solutions to unpredictable problems. This needs logic and analysis, but also the ability to see the big-picture and this involves a creative mind.
- The Zorganian Republic has some very strange customs. Couples only wish to have female children as only females can inherit the family’s wealth, so if they have a male child they keep having more children until they have a girl. If they have a girl, they stop having children. What is the ratio of girls to boys in Zorgania?
- How many hands does the clock of the tower of Big Ben have?
- John’s mother has 3 children, one is named April, one is named May. What is the third one named?
- You are running in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?
- In the same race, if you overtake the last person, then you are in what position?
- Using just ONE straight cut, how can you cut a rectangular cake into two equal parts when a rectangular piece has already been removed from it?
- A man and his son were in a car crash. The father was killed and the son was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The examining doctor exclaims: “But, this is my son!”.
How can this be?
- You have to choose between three rooms.
The first is full of raging fires
The second is full of tigers that haven’t eaten in 3 years.
The third is full of assassins with loaded machine guns.
Which room should you choose?
- Three of the glasses below are filled with orange juice and the other three are empty. By moving just one glass, can you arrange the glasses so that the full and empty glasses alternate?
- Name three consecutive days in English without using the words Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday
- What’s unusual about this paragraph? Just how quickly you can find out what is so funny about it. It looks fairly ordinary and plain that you might think nothing is wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly curious though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you could just find out.
- Join all the 9 dots on the right using four straight lines or less, without lifting your pen and without tracing the same line more than once. Do copy this onto paper if you wish to make it easier.
Second lateral thinking test
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
The following questions will test your ability to think laterally. If you get more than 50% of these right you’re certainly strong on your lateral thinking skills (or maybe you’re just good at puzzles!)
- Name an ancient invention still in use in most parts of the world today that allows people to see through walls.
- A black man dressed all in black, wearing a black mask, stands at a crossroads in a totally black-painted town. All of the streetlights in town are broken. There is no moon. A black-painted car without headlights drives straight toward him, but turns in time and doesn’t hit him. How did the driver know to swerve?
- An Australian woman was born in 1948 but only celebrated her 16th birthday quite recently. Why?
- A five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it. What is the word?
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
- How many grooves are there on an old LP record?
- How many animals of each species did Moses take into the Ark?
- In what sport are the shoes made of metal?
- If a plane crashes on the Italian/Swiss border, where do you bury the survivors?
- A man was pushed out of a small aeroplane, without a parachute but survived with no injuries apart from a few bruises. How was this possible?
- If a red house is made of red bricks, and a blue house is made of blue bricks, what is a green house made of?
- How can you throw a ball as hard as you can, and make it stop and return to you, without hitting anything and with nothing attached to it?
- In which direction is the bus to the right travelling?
- What can you hold in your right hand, but not in your left?
- A cowboy rode into town on Friday, spent one night there, and left on Friday. How do you account for this?
- What word is always spelled wrongly?
- What common chemical compound can be represented: H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O?
- Jane gave Jill the following challenge: “If you sit down in that chair, I bet you five pounds I can make you get out of it before I run around the chair three times,” he said.
“That’s not fair,” Jill said. “You’ll just prick me with a pin or do something similar”
“Nope,” Jane said. “I won’t touch you, either directly or with any object. If you get out of the chair, it’ll be by your own choice.”
Jill thought, accepted the challenge, and lo and behold, Jane won the bet. How did she do it?
- Four people try to get underneath one small umbrella, but nobody gets wet. How is this possible?
- What is the next letter in this sequence J F M A M J ?
- A farmer owns a beautiful pear tree. He supplies the fruit to a nearby grocery shop. The shop owner has called the farmer to see how much fruit is available for him to purchase. The farmer knows that the main trunk has 24 branches. Each branch has exactly 12 boughs and each bough has exactly 6 twigs. Since each twig bears one piece of fruit, how many plums will the farmer be able to deliver?
- A 6-foot tall man was holding a glass beaker above his head. He let it drop to the carpet without spilling a single drop of water.
How could he manage to drop the glass from a height of six feet and not spill a drop of water?
- A fire officer has 12 matchsticks lying in front of her. She removes just one of them. She now sees 9 in front of her. How is this possible ?
- In many London Underground tube stations there are two up escalators but only one going down. Why?
- At a school 27 pupils wore red coats, 29 wore black coats and 40 wore blue coats. How many pupils were wearing green coats?
- If the day after the day before yesterday was Tuesday, and the
day before the day after tomorrow is Thursday, what day is today?
- A man comes up to the border of a country on his motorbike. He has three large sacks on his bike. The customs officer at the border crossing stop him and asks, “What is in the sacks?”“Sand,” answered the man.The guard says, “We’ll see about that. Get off the bike.”The guard takes the sacks and rips them apart; he empties them out and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains the man overnight and has the sand analysed, only to find that there is nothing but pure sand in the bags. The guard releases the man, puts the sand into new bags, lifts them onto the man’s shoulders and lets him cross the border.A week later, the same thing happens. The customs officer asks, “What have you got?”“Sand,” says the man.The officer does another thorough examination and again discovers that the sacks contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to the man, and the man again crosses the border.This sequence of events repeats every day for the next three years. Then one day, the man doesn’t show up. The border official meets up with him in a restaurant in the city. The officer says, “I know you’re smuggling something and it’s driving me crazy. It’s all I think about. I can’t even sleep. Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?”What is the man smuggling?
If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.
The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas Alva Edison
Never be afraid to try, remember…
Amateurs built the Ark.
Professionals built the Titanic!
Check your answers below. If you got 15 or more right you are a true lateral thinking genius!
For more examples of lateral thinking in jobhunting see our Creative Careers Search page
Also see the logic puzzle at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/problem-solving-skills.htm#logic
- The window.
- It was day time
- She was born on February the 29th.
- Two: one on each side.
- None. NOAH built the Ark.
- Horse racing; or other horse sports.
- You don’t bury survivors!
- The aeroplane was on the ground.
- Go outside and throw it upwards.
- Assuming that the bus is in the UK, the passenger doors much be on the opposite side of the bus, so the bus is travellling to the right. If you are in the United States or another country which drives on the right hand side of the road, the bus would be travelling to the left. 90% of UK children who took a test on this got it right, even if, sometimes, they did not know why!
- Your left hand, forearm or elbow.
- His horse was named Friday.
- H20 or Water (H to O)
- Jill sat down in the chair. Jane ran around it twice, then said, “I’ll be back in a week to run the third time around!
- It’s not raining!
- J (for July). They are the first letters of the months of the year.
- None – it’s a pear tree.
- The glass was empty.
- The remaining eleven matchsticks form the word NINE
- People leave trains in a group, so all arrive at the escalators at the same time, but tend to go down to the trains in a more even flow, hence you need less down escalators.
- 49 pupils. Letter A = 1, B= 2, C = 3 and so forth, so GREEN = 7 + 18 + 5 + 5 + 14 = 49
- Wednesday (this one makes your brain hurt!)
Mathematical Lateral Logic Test
The following questions will test your ability to think laterally and mathematically. If you get more than 50% of these right you’re certainly strong on your numerical and lateral thinking skills.
Questions start easy and get progressively harder.
- When asked how old she was, Beth replied “In two years I will be twice as old as I was five years ago”. How old is she?
- Which weighs more? A pound of iron or a pound of copper?
- If you have two coins totaling 11p, and one of the coins is not a penny, what are the two coins?
- Divide 40 by half and add ten. What is the answer?
- To the nearest cubic centimetre, how much soil is there in a 3m x 2m x 2m hole?
- A farmer has 15 cows, all but 8 die. How many does he have left?
- The ages of a mother and her graduate son add up to 66. The mother’s age is the son’s age reversed. How old are they?
- If a man and a half can eat a hot dog and a half in a minute and a half, how long would it take six men to eat six hot dogs?
- Nim went into a supermarket to buy some fruit.
There were three packs on special offer:
1) Ten grapes and five strawberries: 70p (save 10p)
2) Ten strawberries and ten apricots: £2 (save 40p)
3) Thirty grapes: 100p (save 20p)
What would be the full price of one grape, one strawberry and one apricot at normal price (no special offers)?
- The amount of water flowing into a tank doubles every minute. The tank is full in an hour. When is the tank half full?
- There is a pole in a lake. Half of the pole is embedded in the mud at the bottom of the pond, another one third is covered by water, and 7 feet is out of the water. What is the total length of the pole?
- If the hour hand of a clock moves 1/60th of a degree every minute, how many degrees will it move in an hour?
- I spend a third of my money on a guitar, half the rest on a microphone and a quarter of what I then have left on a kazoo. What proportion of my original money do I have left?
- How can you take 1 from 19 and leave 20?
- Here is a list of months and a code for each
- January: 7110
- February: 826
- March: 5313
- April: 541
- May: 3513
- June: 4610
- July: 4710
What is the code for the month of August?
- There are 60 sweets in a jar. The first person took one sweet, and each consecutive person took more sweets than the person before, until the jar was empty.
What is the largest number of people that could have eaten sweets from the jar?
- At the University of Kent 36 students attended the LAW lecture, 39 attended an ART lecture and 37 attended the DRAMA lecture. How many attended the FILM lecture?
- If you have a pizza with crust thickness ‘a’ and radius ‘z’, what’s the volume of the pizza?
- A man went into a store to buy an item. He asked the assistant:
“How much does it cost for one?”
The assistant replied 2 pounds, Sir”
“And how much for 10?”
The assistant replied “£4”
“How much for 100?”
He got the reply “£6”
What was the man buying?
- There are 23 football teams playing in a knockout competition. What is the least number of matches they need to play to decide the winner?
- How many degrees are there between clock hands at 3.15?
- You have 8 bags of sugar, 7 weight the same, one weighs less. You also have a balance scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps.
- There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?
- 1/2 of 2/3 of 3/4 of 4/5 of 5/6 of 6/7 of 7/8 of 8/9 of 9/10 of 1,000 = ?
- How many times do the hands of a clock overlap in 24 hours?
- They both weigh exactly a pound!
- 10p and 1p – the other coin can be a penny!
- 90. Dividing by half is the same as multiplying by 2.
- None – it’s a hole!
- 42 and 24 years old. (One reader has pointed out that it could also be 51 and 15)
- A minute and a half
- Thirty grapes at normal price cost £1.20, thus grapes cost 4p each. Ten grapes and 5 strawberries cost 80p at normal price, the grapes must cost 40p therefore the strawberries cost 8p each. Ten strawberries and ten apricots cost £2.40 at normal price, the strawberries cost 80p, therefore the apricots cost 16p each. So one apricot + one strawberruy and one grape cost 28p in total.
- At 59 minutes
- Half of the pole is in the mud
One third is covered by water
Therefore fraction of pole in the mud and water = 1/2 + 1/3 = 3/6 + 2/6 = 5/6
Therefore fraction of pole out of the water = 1 – 5/6 = 1/6
So one sixth of the pole is 7 feet.
So total length of pole = 42 feet.
- One degree
- After spending one third of my money on the guitar I have two thirds left. I spend half of this on a microphone, so this is again one third. I then have one third of my original money remaining. I spend one quarter of this on the kazoo. One quarter of one third is one twelfth. I thus have three quarters of one third of my money remaining. Three quarters of one third is one quarter of my money remaining. (1/3 = 4/12. 4/12 – 1/12 = 3/12. 3/12 = 1/4)
- If the numbers are in Roman numerals, Take I from XIX (19 in Roman numerals), you are left with XX – 20 in Roman numerals.
- 681. The first digit is the number of letters, the second, the position of the month in the calendar, and the final digit is the position of the first letter of the word in the alphabet.
- The first person takes 1 sweet, the second two, the third three etc.
1+ 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 = 55, so the first ten people take 55 sweets between them. The 11th person has to be content with a mere 5 sweets, making 11 people in total.
- 40 students. Letter A = 1, B= 2, C = 3 and so forth, so FILM = 6 + 9 + 12 + 13 = 40
- pi*z*z*a (!)
- House numbers
- In a knockout competition, every team except the winner is defeated once and once only, so the number of matches is one less than the number of teams in this case 23-1 = 22.
- The answer is not zero degrees as you might at first think. The minute hand will be at 15 minutes (90 degrees clockwise from vertical) but the hour hand will have progressed to one quarter of the distance between 3 pm and 4 pm.
Each hour represents 30 degrees (360 / 12), so one quarter of an hour equals 7.5 degrees, so the minute hand will be at 97.5 degrees: a 7.5 degree difference between the hands.
- Put 2 bags to the side. Weight 3 of the remaining bags against the other 3 remaining. If they weigh the same then weigh the 2 bags that you put aside to find out which of them is heavier. If, however, one of the sets of 3 bags was heavier, put one of the bags from the heavier set aside. Weigh the remaining two bags from the set to find out which one is heavier. If they are equal then you know that it is the 1 bag that you put aside.
- Open the box that is labeled “Apples and Oranges”.
You know that since none of the labels are correct, the box must either contain only apples, or only oranges.
Suppose that you remove an apple from that box. Therefore, that box must be the “Apples Only” box.
One of the two remaining boxes must be the “Oranges Only” box. However, one is labeled “Apples Only”, and the other is labeled “Oranges Only”. Therefore, the one labeled “Apples Only” is the box that contains only oranges, and the box labeled “Oranges Only” is the box that contains both kinds of fruit.
- 22: the minute hand will go round the dial 24 times, but the hour hand will also complete two circuits. 24 minus 2 equals22.
- 17 or more: excellent – you are both numerate and lateral!
- 10 – 16: good
- Below 10: a little more practice on these types of test is required!
- Lateral (Creative) Thinking Quiz
- Second Lateral Thinking Test
- Riddles: another way of Lateral Thinking
- Numerical Test 2 slightly harder graphs and tables test.
- Exercise on team working skills
- The roles people play in meetings.
- What makes an effective team?
- Tips for group work exercises in selection centres
- Observer assessment form for group exercises
All employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work in teams. As less hierarchical organisations have emerged with project teams, self-managed work teams and management teams, so the requirements to ‘Get on well with people’, and to ‘Work with and through others‘ become increasingly important.
Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive – rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.
The questionnaire which follows should help you to analyse the workings of a group and should help you to reach some tentative conclusions about your role in a team. For this exercise you will need to think of teams of which you are or were a part. These could be project groups for your course, seminar groups, sports teams, societies or clubs in which you were involved, vacation jobs in which you were part of a team, or even perhaps when you were sharing a house with a group of students.
Try to answer the 28 questions as honestly as you can. Click on “First Question” to begin. Please try to answer ALL the questions. You can go back to questions to change your answers by clicking on the previous question button.
Your score can be from 0 to a maximum of 12 on each of seven group roles. Make a note of your scores or print out the page and then see below to find out what these roles involve.
There are a number of different roles that people adopt in meetings, some of which are listed below. These roles are not always constant – one person might adopt several of these roles during one meeting or change roles depending on what is being discussed. Your score for each category should give you some idea of which of these roles you play in teams.
Energises groups when motivation is low through humour or through being enthusiastic. They are positive individuals who support and praise other group members. They don’t like sitting around. They like to move things along by suggesting ideas, by clarifying the ideas of others and by confronting problems. They may use humour to break tensions in the group.
They may say:
“We CAN do this!”
“That’s a great idea!”
Destructive or selfish group roles to avoid!
A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.
Tries to maintain harmony among the team members. They are sociable, interested in others and will introduce people, draw them out and make them feel comfortable. They may be willing to change their own views to get a group decision. They work well with different people and can be depended on to promote a positive atmosphere, helping the team to gel. They pull people and tasks together thereby developing rapport. They are tolerant individuals and good listeners who will listen carefully to the views of other group members. They are good judges of people, diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of others and not seen as a threat. They are able to recognise and resolve differences of opinion and the the development of conflict, they enable “difficult” team-members to contribute positively.
They may say:
“We haven’t heard from Mike yet: I’d like to hear what you think about this.”
“I’m not sure I agree. What are your reasons for saying that?”
Good leaders direct the sequence of steps the group takes and keep the group “on-track”. They are good at controlling people and events and coordinating resources. They have the energy, determination and initiative to overcome obstacles and bring competitive drive to the team. They give shape to the team effort. They recognise the skills of each individual and how they can be used. Leaders are outgoing individuals who have to be careful not to be domineering. They can sometimes steamroller the team but get results quickly. They may become impatient with complacency and lack of progress and may sometimes overreact. Also see our leadership styles test.
They may say
“Let’s come back to this later if we have time.”
“We need to move on to the next step.”
“Sue, what do you think about this idea?”
Calm, reflective individuals who summarise the group’s discussion and conclusions. They clarify group objectives and elaborate on the ideas of others. They may go into detail about how the group’s plans would work and tie up loose ends. They are good mediators and seek consensus.
They may say:
“So here’s what we’ve decided so far”
“I think you’re right, but we could also add ….”
The “Top Ten” Skills shortages among graduates
|% of employers surveyed|
|4||Ability to work in a team||33%|
|7||Subject Knowledge & competence||19%|
|10||Good general education||15%|
|Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters “Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century” www.agr.org.uk|
The ideas person suggests new ideas to solve group problems or suggests new ways for the group to organize the task. They dislike orthodoxy and are not too concerned with practicalities. They provide suggestions and proposals that are often original and radical. They are more concerned with the big picture than with details. They may get bored after the initial impetus wears off. See our lateral thinking skills page
They may say
“Why don’t we consider doing it this way?”
Evaluators help the group to avoid coming to agreement too quickly. They tend to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over. They are the logical, analytical, objective people in the team and offer measured, dispassionate critical analysis. They contribute at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. They may suggest alternative ideas.
They may say:
“What other possibilities are there?”
or “Let’s try to look at this another way.”
or “I’m not sure we’re on the right track.”
The recorder keeps the group focused and organised. They make sure that everyone is helping with the project.They are usually the first person to offer to take notes to keep a record of ideas and decisions. They also like to act as time-keeper, to allocate times to specific tasks and remind the team to keep to them, or act as a spokesperson, to deliver the ideas and findings of the group. They may check that all members understand and agree on plans and actions and know their roles and responsibilities. They act as the memory of the group.
They may say:
“We only have five minutes left, so we need to come to agreement now!”
“Do we all understand this chart?”
“Are we all in agreement on this?”
- It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways (see the roles above) and complement each other. A team made up just of planners would find it difficult to cope with changing deadlines or plans whereas a team full of spontaneous individuals would be disorganised: you need both types. A good team produces more than the individual contributions of members.
- Clear goals are agreed on that everyone understands and is committed to.
- Everyone understands the tasks they have to do and helps each other.
- It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style from autocratic to democratic depending on the circumstances. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.
- There is a balance between the task (what do we need to do?) and the process (how do we achieve this?)
- There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.
- The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.
- There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group memberslisten to each other and everyone’s ideas are heard.
- Members feel free to criticise and say what they think but this is done in apositive, constructive manner.
- The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.
What makes an ineffective team
After all is said and done, more is said than done.
- People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
- Some members are silent and don’t contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
- Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
- There are arguments between members of the group (as opposed to constructive differences of opinion).
- One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
- Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
- Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
- Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
- There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed to.
- Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
- There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
- Members don’t talk about how the group is working or the problems it faces.
If you are invited to a selection centre as part of the interview process, it’s very likely that you will have a group task, such as a case study, where your performance in the group will be assessed. Here are some tips to help you to perform well. For more on assessment centres see our page on this.
- Read a quality newspaper in the weeks before the assessment centre – sometimes topics for discussion will be based on recent items in the news.
- When you read the information given for a group exercise,underline key points and the likely arguments and counter arguments. Look for any red herrings (irrelevant or misleading facts).
- Try to be yourself. Don’t try to put on a façade or mask.
- Talk to the other candidates and assessors between exercises to help keep yourself relaxed.
- Keep a note of the finish time. Don’t allow the group to over-run. Statements like “look we only have 5 minutes left so we need to get a move on” may help.
- For some exercises (e.g. balloon debates) it helps to decide on the criteria on which you will make your choices and then stick to this. For example if you have to decide who to save from a sinking ship, do you save the youngest, the fittest or the ones with useful skills? Spend time in preparation and planning rather than just jumping in – decide your objectives and priorities, but don’t take too long and get bogged down at this stage.
- If a particular group member is quiet try to get them to contribute. It’s a good idea to encourage them along the lines “We haven’t heard from Mike yet – I’d like to hear what you think of the proposal.”
- Voting for a particular choice is a last resort and should only be used if persuasion and consensus have failed and time is running out.
Questions they might expect to face at most interviews (e.g. asking for an example of team building, or showing that they are a fast learner) are difficult to answer well if you are not used to them, and haven’t prepared a list of examples to draw from. We’d recommend that students consider why we’re asking the question. For example, a good answer on team building outlines difficulties you may have had with other team-members and shows that you understand what you need to do to overcome those difficulties, rather than simply to tell the interviewer that the team worked together really well.
- Stick up for your opinions and argue persuasively and with logic for them, but also listen to the opinions of others and support those you agree with. Don’t belittle the ideas of others – in most cases you’re not competing directly against the other members of the group – everyone could be selected or everyone rejected.
- Go for quality rather than quantity in your contributions. Don’t talk aimlessly. Try to move the group forward by your contributions e.g. “Look this is now going anywhere. Why don’t we move on and come back to this topic later”
- Summarising can sometimes help to clarify the position. “Before we go on shall I summarise what we’ve agreed”
- If a dominant individual tries to “hijack” the group, don’t be afraid to challenge them, but do this calmly, logically and diplomatically, not by attacking them. You could ask “What are your reasons for saying that?”
- If you are made the leader of an exercise it’s a good idea to ask for volunteers for particular tasks such as note taking, and to delegate responsibility. Identify the strengths of the other group members and use them. Don’t get too involved in the fine detail of the task – your role as the leader is to keep an overview.
- Keep cool and use your sense of humour. Be assertive, tactful and persuasive and work with the group. Listen to what everyone has to say. Don’t interrupt or put down other group members.
- Try to be creative – introduce new ideas or build on the ideas of others.
Group exercises Kent students have been asked to undertake at selection centres
- A discussion on who we would save given that X amount of people were in a cave, and the cave entrance had collapsed, so chances were that some people were going to die. We had to decide on the order of rescue. (Cable & Wireless)
- Given 4 plastic cups, 4 plates, masking tape and 8 sheets of very large paper, construct a bridge capable of holding a stapler (the stapler isn’t seen until you’ve finished). (Cable & Wireless)
- A choice of two possible factory buildings: you have to make a decision as to which one you would choose. They give you info such as budget and details about each building. Don’t think there is a right or wrong answer; you just have to justify what you value to be the most important criteria. (AXA)
- We were a small start up company who were to create and organise an event for the launch of the 2012 Olympics. There are certain requirements such as budget and time scales but the rest is up to you to come up with something appropriate. 50 minutes to prepare and then 10 minutes to present it as a group. (ATOS Origin)
Companies are wasting thousands of poundes every day on irrelevant meetings
A study by Protecting.co.uk found that a one hour meeting attended by ten staff costs at least £250 in salaries alone.
“The sad fact is that many meetings can be replaced with something cheaper and more efficient, with annual savings running into thousands,” said Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall.
The average British employee will sit through 6,240 meetings in their career. 60% of the workers studied described meetings as “pointless”. 20% had dozed off during a meeting. 70% said they constantly zone out in meetings. Nearly half spend their time doodling and 29% stare aimlessly out of a window. Many said that a quick and concise conference call was more effective than a lengthy meeting which often resulted in expensive travel expenses.
Tips and comments from Kent students:
- Have a watch and use it! Don’t forget to remember when an exercise started and how long you’ve got to prepare it. Also, decide on a time keeper for the group tasks.
- Be yourself, relax and enjoy. You will feel challenged, and feel very tired, but that’s expected!
- The most important aspect is your interaction in the group. You must speak and play a prominent part in the exercise, not just react to other people. However, do not be overbearing and try to listen to others too.
- Relax and enjoy the day. Ask lots of questions.
- You really are marked on the key competencies they provide you with, and you are given plenty of opportunities to demonstrate these skills. If you are aware of the competencies and think about the task, it is quite clear through the exercises which skills you should be using.
- The assessments were deliberately organised to put pressure on you time-wise. The point of most of the assessments didn’t seem to be getting to the correct answer but seeing how you got there: so bear this in mind. One or two of the candidates tried too hard to impress and were very overbearing when it came to the group exercises: I’m not sure that this is what the assessors were looking for and it certainly didn’t make them popular with the other candidates!
- A group of 8 candidates sat around a table and discussed a business proposal whilst 8 assessors sat around edge of room taking notes on us. This lasted for about ¾ hour.
- Take initiatives e.g. in group discussions go use the flip chart, propose to use it, watch the time. Show enthusiasm: this is very important when telling about an event in an assessment centre. Biggest hurdle is the time. Always watch for the time while you are working. (Ernst & Young)
- There are always people watching so be careful about what you say/who you say it to/when you say it. Be friendly to the other candidates. (Deloitte)
- During group work, always keep and eye on the time and make sure the panel can see you’re doing this. Encourage everyone in your group to contribute and listen to their ideas.
- The biggest thing that gave me confidence was the realisation that not only was everyone else nervous, the other candidates were very friendly with each other in general. I took it as an opportunity to chat to people in the breaks and I actually forgot I was probably being assessed as I was enjoying myself! I also found it helped to make small talk with the interviewers.
- Time management is pretty crucial in individual tasks and I suspect you get brownie points for keeping on top of this in group tasks too. Also remind yourself that what you’re doing is good experience, and will teach you valuable lessons regardless of the outcome.
You can also benefit by asking yourself some other questions:
- Where do you fit in? What is your role in groups?
- Are you a player or an observer?
- Do you cooperate with others, lead, follow, contribute, guide, advise or just watch?
- Should you take a more active role?
- Should you contribute more?
- Have you a dominant personality? If so – should you encourage others to contribute?
- Good group work, effective committees and successful management teams are based on effective contributions from everyone. Where do you fit in? Cooperating with others is vital for every type of management task!
You might like to use the following headings to make notes or, the contributions of particular group members.
Here are the sort of criteria on which your contributions to a group exercise at a selection centre might be assessed. You might like to use them to make notes on the contributions of particular group members.
Facilitation of the Discussion
Links to related pages
- Skills Home Page
- See also our videos on a group work exercise at an assessment centre (you need a Kent login to view these)
- 10 Ways Great Bosses Use Science to Lead Great Teams
- Assessment & selection centres
- Example assessment centres Timetables for typical assessment centres.
- Making a presentation
- Leadership Skills
- In-tray and e-tray exercises
- Case study – the type you might get at an assessment centre.
- Business game example of the type used at assessment centres.
- Save the World! Environmental business game
- Balloon debate – again the type you might get at an assessment centre.
There was once a team of four individuals called respectively: Everyone, Someone, Anyone and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.
Anyone could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Someone got angry about this, because it was Everyone’s job.
Everyone thought Anyone could do it, but Nobody realised that Everyone wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everyone blamed Someone when Nobody did what Anyone could have done.
How to find out your style of leadership
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower
Steve Jobs (founder of Apple)
The following exercise will ask you 50 questions about your leadership style, and then give you an idea of your typical styles.
If you are still a student you might like to answer the questions as you would if you were a manager in an organisation, rather than the way you would if, for example, you were president of a student society where the leadership style is more casual than that in most work environments.
Now make a note of your scores which can vary up to a maximum of 50 for each style. The highest scores should suggest your most liked styles of leadership, and the lowest scores, the styles that are least like you.
Once you have finished the test go to the table below where you’ll find explanations of each of the leadership styles.
You can click on the chart below to go to relevant pages in our site:
Management training is not new
The following is from the Tao Te Ching written in the 6th century BC
The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects;
Harry Selfridge quotes
- Being able to motivate & direct others
- Taking responsibility for the direction & actions of a team
- Setting objectives.
- Organising & motivating others.
- Taking the initiative
- Persevering when things are not working out.
- Taking a positive attitude to frustration/failure.
- Accepting responsibility for mistakes/wrong decisions.
- Being flexible: prepared to adapt goals in the light of changing situations.
How to become a leader
- Use initiative to act on opportunities. Become a leader before other people view you as one. Healthy organisations reward those who take the lead, not just those with formal management roles.
- Take responsibility for own objectives: set priorities.
- Display a “can do” attitude even in demanding situations.. Try to solve problems, rather than to pass them on to other people. First answer is ‘yes, I’ll make it happen’ .
- “Go the extra mile” when asked to do tasks. Go beyond your job description. Do work that gets you noticed.
- Show enthusiasm: this will be noticed and you will eventually be rewarded.
- Take ownership of problems: anticipate potential problems, take pre-emptive action and act quickly to resolve problems.
- Introduce improvements to the way things are done.
- Develop innovative practices. Value innovative thinking.
- Learn new skills that will enhance capability.
- Common sense is not common!
Transactional: the “transaction” is that the organisation rewards (pays) the team, in return for their work & compliance.
Also related toauthoritarian
|Charismatic leadership is very similar, where the leader depends on his/her charisma & energy to inspire staff.||Democratic orConsulting
Servant: A leader who is not formally recognized. Leads just by meeting the needs of the team. Whole team is involved in decisions.
Amount of control
|High: telling, directing, controlling.||High: telling, directing, controlling.||Medium: selling, reasoning, persuading, delegating.||Medium: selling, reasoning, persuading, consulting.||Low: advising, counseling, participating, observing, joining.|
What it involves
|The leader has a lot of power over team members & has the right to reward good performance or punish members if they don’t reach the agreed standard.
They tell their team what they want done & how without often asking for advice from team members. Team members are given little opportunity to make suggestions, even if these would be in the team’s interest.
It should normally only be used occasionally
The focus is on short-term tasks so it’smore a a method of managing rather a true leadership style
|Work “by the book”: team members follow procedures precisely.
Focuses only on getting the job done, & can be quite autocratic.
Little thought given to the well-being of team members
Task Orientated vs relationship orientated: both procedural & transformational leaders are usually needed. “managers” focus on tasks while “leaders” focus on people.
|The leader inspiresteam with their vision of what should happen. They supply the main goal, but allow members to choose their own way of reaching it.
The leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting & developing the team.
The leader is always looking for ideas that move towards the organisation’s vision.
Transformation leaders are very visible, & spend lot of time communicating.Communication is the basis for achievement by focusing the group on the required outcome. They don’t necessarily lead from the front, as they tend to delegate responsibility.
|Builds consensus through participation:the leader makes the final decision, but the team to contribute to thedecision-making process.
The leader asks the team’s opinions & uses these to make decisions. The team is kept informed & are allowed to discuss & propose changes to policy.
The leader can’t know everything: this is why you employ skillful team members.
This style is not a sign of weakness, more a sign of strength your team will respect.
|Team members make the decisions but leader is still responsible for these.
Leader asks for the team’s opinions. Team is left to make its own decisions which are then sanctioned by the leader.
Leader participates in the discussion as a normal team member & agrees in advance to carry out whatever decision the group makes. Team members are left to get on with their tasks.
Effective if the leader monitors what is being achieved & regularly communicates this back to the team.
|Works well when you’re short on time, & team is well motivated
For some routine & unskilled tasks.
In a crisis.
With difficult employees.
|Tasks requiring great attention to detail.
Appropriate for work involving safetyrisks such as working with machinery or wherelarge sums of money are involved.
|This is the most common modern leadership style.||When organisationalflexibility & a sense of individual responsibility is needed,
Where team working is essential
When quality is more important than speed or productivity.
|When you haveconfidence & trust in your team.
Where team members are experienced & skilled; they can analyse the situation & determine what needs to be done & how to do it.(e.g. team of research scientists).
|Can achieve results quickly
In research done on this groups were found to be most productive under autocratic, but if theleader was absent work stopped.
|Clearly defines the tasks & the roles required.
Puts structures in place: planning, organization & monitoring is usually good.
|Motivates the team to be effective & efficient.
Tends to lead to goodteamwork & creative collaboration.
The enthusiasm & energy of a transformational leader is often infectious.
Can communicate an inspirational vision of the future
|Mutual benefit:allows members to feel part of the team & leader to make better decisions.
Members feel in control & motivated to work hard.Increases job satisfaction by involving the team in decisions. Helps todevelop team members’ skills.
Most consistent in quality & productivity
|Increasingly necessary in a world where leaders achieve power on the basis of their ideals & values.
You can’t do everything so you have to setpriorities & delegate some tasks.
|Team doesn’t gain from creativity & knowledge of members, so benefits of teamwork are lost.
Staff can’t improve their job satisfaction& may resent the way they are treated leading to high absenteeism & staff turnover.
Serious limitationsbut still much used. Sometimes thought of as bullying but this isn’t a valid authoritarian style.
|The inflexibility & high levels of control exerted can demoralize team members, & reduce the organisation’sability to react to changing circumstances
Similar problems to autocratic leadership:difficulties in motivating & retaining team members.
|Procedural & transformational leadership are symbiotic. The procedural leaders (managers) ensure routine work is done well, while the transformational leaders focus on initiatives that add value. The transformational leaderfocuses on the big picture, but needs to be surrounded by people who take care of the details.
Taken to extremes, can lead to failure to achieve the team’s goals.
|This style may result in indecision, & some team members may be left feeling confused & leaderless.
As participation takes time things may happen more slowly than with an autocratic approach, but often the end result is better.
|Often less effective in terms of quality and productivity than other methods.
Not good in competitive situations.
Often happens naturally in situations where managers are not exerting sufficient control.
Using the appropriate style of leadership in differing circumstances
Leadership involves managing, coordinating and supervising, taking responsibility for people; directing, organising and motivating them. A good leader will use a variety of styles of leadership according to the situation whereas bad leaders tend to fall in to just one style. In practice, most leaders use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership.
Managing a group project
At university, a participative style may be most appropriate. Whereas a production manager in a factory may need to use aprocedural or authoritative style much or the time. So you need to take into account the nature of the task.
A fire officer dealing with a serious fire may need to beauthoritative, making instant decisions and barking out commands, but when training staff, a participative style will be more effective.
Different individuals also require different styles. You may need to manage an intelligent, competent and trustworthy team member by using transformational techniques whereas someone who is lazy and unreliable may require an authoritarian style.
- The skills, experience and attitudes of your team members.
- Whether the work is routine or innovative.
The “Top Ten” Skills shortages among graduates
% of employers surveyed 1 Commercial Awareness 67% 2 Communication Skills 64% 3 Leadership 33% 4 Ability to work in a team 33% 5 Problem solving 32% 6 Conceptual ability 21% 7 Subject Knowledge & competence 19% 8 Foreign languages 19% 9 Numeracy 19% 10 Good general education 15% Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters “Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century” www.agr.org.uk
- You own preferred or natural style.
What makes a charismatic leader?
- Keep up good eye contact
- Develop a genuine smile.
- Have an open body posture
- Keep your hands apart with palms forwards or upwards and away from your face when talking.
- Stand up straight but be relaxed.
- Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them.Nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm.
- In groups move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at everyone in the group from time to time.
- Keep your messages simple to understand. Be slightly controversial and move beyond status quo
- When speaking, be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis
Rewards such as bonuses provide a short term boost to performance but ultimately reduce long term motivation. Performance related pay and the carrot and stick approach have little or no long term value in motivating staff.
Research from the Institute of Leadership & Management found that few employees said that bonuses motivated them to work harder.
Many top managers may be narcissists
A study by Christian Grimso of BI Business School claimed that many top managers suffer from narcissism. Narcissists can take tough decisions and are preoccupied with success and power. They have great self-confidence so interview well. However their self-importance can lead to poor leadership performance as they run their own agenda, and lack the ability to relate to others.
Gimso said: “People with narcissistic personality disorders will be interested in dominance, status, recognition, power and admiration. They may not think twice about using others to achieve their goals.”
According to those surveyed the most important motivators were:
- 59% felt enjoyment of the job was the most important motivator
- 49% how much they are paid.
- 42% getting on with colleagues was the best motivator
- 22% being treated fairly by their managers
- 22% autonomy: how much control they have over their work
- Only 13% of employees said that bonuses motivated them to work harder.
Getting regular feedback, allowing staff autonomy in their role, the opportunity to innovate and improved office environments also helped
Good managers are key motivators who can make a real difference to their teams. The ‘five fundamentals’ of good management: coaching, giving feedback, listening, rewarding and recognising success and performance management. Something as simple as hearing ‘you’ve done a really good job on ….’ can strongly boost to an employee’s confidence, deliver a sense of pride and satisfaction and encourage them to put more into their work.
Who cares, wins!
The MoralDNA report from the Chartered Management Institute found that ethical leadership is a critical driver of performance. Where coaching, visionary and democratic leadership styles predominated 75% of respondents said effectiveness of management was excellent, compared to only 18% where command and control leadership was predominant.
Ethics were key to employee engagement. Managers in organisations with excellent staff satisfaction scored 13% higher on the ethic of care. It also affected the employer’s ability to attract new staff where there was an 8% difference between the best and worst-rated employers.
Ann Francke, Chief Executive of CMI, said: “When it comes to management and leadership in the 21st century, the truth is that who cares, wins.”
Two thirds (61%) of employees said their workplace had anappraisal system, but a quarter of respondents (25%) think that appraisals are performed poorly by their manager. Appraisals were less effective at driving the performance and motivation among female employees.
See our page on What makes us happy at work? for more on this.
Google’s Attributes of a Great Manager
- Is a good coach
- Empowers team and does not micromanage
- Expresses interest/concern for team members’ success and personal wellbeing
- Is productive and results-oriented
- Is a good communicator
- Helps with career development
- Has a clear vision/strategy for the team
- Has important technical skills that help him/her advise the team.
“If you give people freedom, they will amaze you. Get out of their way and they will do the right thing 99% of the time.They’ll do remarkable things and all you need to do is give them a little infrastructure and a lot of room to change the world. And I think that holds in any industry.”
At Google, “Failure is celebrated. It’s ok to fail, and that is culturally encouraged. We just want people to fail fast, so that they don’t get stuck doing the wrong thing for too long because they are afraid to admit that it is not working. So failure, is encouraged – obviously we don’t want people to be constantly failing – but I think its culturally ok to admit your mistakes, say that didn’t work and move on to the next thing.”
|The boss returned from lunch in a good mood and called the whole staff in to listen to a couple of jokes he had picked up.
Everybody but one girl laughed uproariously.
“What’s the matter?” asked the boss. “Haven’t you got a sense of humour?”
“I don’t have to laugh”, she replied. “I’m leaving on Friday.”
Aimee O’Malley, Google at CIPD Annual Conference
The only way to really learn leadership is by doing it!
Exercises like this one get you thinking about different ways of leading, and about attributes that make a good leader …. but they are no substitute for reality. Get involved in leading groups, whether is be leading a group project, chairing a student society, captaining a sports team or even being a playscheme helper. Carefully observe what is working for you and learn from your mistakes.
“A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says, ‘I was beaten’; he does not say ‘My men were beaten.'”
EXAMPLE ANSWERS FOR APPLICATION FORMS AND INTERVIEWS
Can you give me an example of a time when you have
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Unlike top management at Enron, exemplary leaders reward dissent. They encourage it. They understand that, whatever momentary discomfort they experience as a result of being told they might be wrong, it is more than offset by the fact that the information will help them make better decisions.
“He tells you what you want to hear, he tries to talk you up, he tries to give you the belief and you go there to do the work for him. He knows what I can do. Before the game he told me ‘King, listen to me, do your magic – you are the best’. When you hear that from your coach, you want to do something for him.”
Kanu talking about Harry Rednapp to BBC Sport
You don’t manage people, you manage things. You lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.
had to co-ordinate the work of other people?
I was Social Secretary of the European Society on campus. We decided to mark Europe Day last May by organising a programme of social and cultural events representing all the EU member countries. I had to find people willing to take part: some were members of our own Society but I also approached other societies on campus, such as the French Society, and had to seek out individuals to make sure that all 15 countries were represented.
Once I had a full complement of people willing to contribute I could draw up a programme of events for the day and we held regular meetings to monitor progress and iron out any problems.
On the day there were 15 different events running from a French breakfast with coffee and croissants through films, lectures and musical recitals through to a late-night disco with music from all over Europe. Several hundred students took part in them and the European Society signed up over 30 new members
Describe a time when you have managed your own performance or the performance of others to achieve results. What did you do?
When I volunteered at an Oxfam Charity Shop, there were very few employees. I was therefore given a large amount of responsibility from my first day.
As I was often the only employee in the actual shop, it was necessary for me to manage the maintenance of the store – as new volunteers were recruited it became my duty to train them in a variety of tasks. I had to learn to delegate responsibility and learn how to handle occasionally difficult customers with tact.
I learned a lot about how to take responsibility and it gave me confidence that I could enter a management role at some stage in the future.
Find out more about the leadership styles used here
- Burns Transactional and transformational theorieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_MacGregor_Burns
- Kurt Lewinhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Lewin#Leadership_climates defined the three main styles: authoritarian, participative or democratic and delegative or free rein
- LInkedIn Article How Great Leaders Communicate
- Valve: How going boss-free empowered the games-maker www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24205497
- Anatomy of world’s top CEOs uncovered but Jobs goes against the grain
- Sleepless nights lead to abusive managers
What are your strengths?
Find your positive attributes
Your strengths are a mixture of your talents, knowledge and skills. The theory behind strengths is based on positive psychology: everyone has strengths they are born with but few people know what these are. By identifying your strengths and matching yourself to the role, you will enjoy it more and perform better that those who have to try hard to fill the role.
When you are using your strengths, you demonstrate flow.
When involved in flow activities:
- you have a sense of energy and engagement;
- you often lose your sense of time because you are so engrossed in the task;
- you rapidly learn new information and approaches;
- you show high levels of performance;
- you want to do things that use your strengths: even when you are tired or stressed.
Using your strengths focuses on doing more of what you are good at rather than what you are just capable of doing.
High achievers spend most of their time using their strengths. They focus on developing strengths and managing weaknesses. They may not have more strengths than the average individual, but they HAVE learned to utilise them better and to apply them to new situations.
The following test will help you to identify some of your key strengths.
Your scores can vary from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 16. Write them down for future reference. Now you have identified your key strengths, you can find out more about these below.
Cautious individuals have a few deep friendships rather than many superficial relationships. They need to spend time alone and prefer one to one communication to large groups, preferring to listen rather than talk. They may be more self conscious and apprehensive in social situations and fear social judgement more, but they tend to have good judgment themselves and are often careful thinkers, spending a lot of time reflecting. They have enhanced responses to subtleties in the environment due to stronger cognitive processing of stimuli than is found in extrovert individuals. They are often good at solving problems.
A cautious nature is sometimes linked to introversion. Some people think that introversion is negative but here are some introverts who rather counteract this suggestion: Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Albert Einstein, Grace Kelly, Henry Ford, Isaac Newton, and Johnny Depp!
Cautious people don’t like to take risks, taking care when making decisions, considering all the consequences, and carefully considering what they do or say. Cautious people tend to make better parents having a better long-term memory, allowing them to assess risks more effectively than bolder people. Studies by Daniel Nettle (Newcastle University) suggest that although cautious individuals tend to have fewer sexual partners than extroverts, they are less likely to be in hospital due to accidents or illness.
They often do very well in finance and law e.g. solicitor, legal executive, accountant, air traffic controller, insurance underwriter,publishing editor, actuary, medically-related jobs such as doctor, nurse and occupational therapist
These are very sociable types; they like large groups and are talkative, gregarious, and extrovert
They tend to be impulsive, acting first, and thinking later, thinking on their feet and making quick decisions. Excitable, they seek new sensations, enjoying variety and change in relationships. They are usually cheerful and optimistic and assertive.
They are often active, doing lots of sport and exercise but are also more likely to smoke and drink.
INTERESTING FACT: People tend to become more outgoing as they grow older.
Caring individuals are kind, generous and compassionate. They have a high capacity to give altruistic love and be loved, to give and accept feelings and emotions.
They like helping others and taking care of them, often thinking about the needs of others more than their own needs. They value close relations in particular those where sharing and caring are reciprocated.
Naturally sensitive to people needs and reactions, they instinctively employ personal feelings and consider the impact on others when they have to make decisions.
They are unsettled by conflict, hating disharmony.
Creatives are full of ideas. They are original, ingenious and quick to find new perspectives. They are good at thinking of novel and productive ways to do things and introduce new ideas to groups in which they work. They frequently enjoy creating art, music, writing or acting, but may show creativity in other ways, such as designing computer games.
See our page on lateral thinking for more about this.
People with this attribute have the ability to soar above problems like an eagle or a helicopter and see the whole picture in perspective. They are good at seeing patterns in complex data: identifying the key points in complex information. They are usually good at putting things in perspective and finding the links between seemingly unconnected information. They have the ability to ignore the superficial and irrelevant and focus on what is of real import. They are good at looking at a range of possible solutions and then narrowing these down to the best one.
Because they like to focus on the bigger picture rather than fine detail and are more concerned with major issues than with details: this can sometimes be a weakness.
See our page on problem solving for more on this.
Analytical individuals use facts and logic when making decisions. They prefer to use objective and critical analysis and are logical and rigorous in thought. They are excellent with data and good at evaluating competing proposals.
They are ruled by their head and not their heart and are not easily swayed by emotional arguments. They tend to be sceptical and sometimes can hurt others in this way, accepting conflict as a normal part of relationships with people.
See our page on decision making for more on this.
They have clear destinations and set themselves specific and clearly defined goals. Getting things done quickly and efficiently is more important to them than getting them done perfectly. Getting the task completed successfully is the only thing of real importance.
They are impatient with delays and obstacles and become restless and discontented if they are doing nothing.
See our page on time management for more about this.
These people plan things in advance before taking action. They are well organised individuals who are good at keeping to deadlines, indeed they work best and avoid stress when able to keep ahead of deadlines. They use targets, dates and standard routines to manage their lives. They often keep their work space tidy so that they can work efficiently.
Careers where planning and organising are very important include: logistics manager, retail manager, events manager, advertising account manager, charity fund-raiser, publishing editor,training manager, marketing and librarian.
See our page on action planning for more about this
Determined people take pleasure in completing tasks and persevere to achieve whatever they are striving for. They work hard to reach their goals and tackle obstacles as they arise. They finish what they start. It is not about being a perfectionist and the goals they have tend to be realistic.
They are resilient, taking a positive attitude towards frustration and failure. They persevere when things are not working out and persist in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
They tend to be intrinsically motivated and do not need extrinsic rewards (money, prizes etc.) to help them achieve: research suggests such motivators do little to help us persevere over the long term.
Careers where determination and resilience are very important include: police officer, environmental health officer, estate agent, tax inspector, barrister, selling, retail manager, marketing, journalist and charity fund-raiser.
See our page on determination for more about this.
Leaders consciously seek, and frequently obtain, leadership roles. They usually lead and coordinate the team effort. They are good at persuading people to their point of view. They stick up for their opinions and try to argue persuasively and with logic for them.
They have to be careful not to be confrontational, opinionated and to impose their views without consultation.
See our page on leadership skills for more about this.
Conscientious individuals have strong self control. They are responsible, diligent and usually somewhat cautious and slow to act.
They tend to plan in advance and focus on achieving their aims, focusing on goals and following things through to completion. Tend to feel guilty if they have not completed a task.
It can can be a drawback in jobs with lots of change: as these people persist with task rather than adapting to changing circumstances.
|Employer to applicant: “In this job we need someone who is responsible.”
Applicant: “I’m the one you need. In my last job, every time anything went wrong, they said I was responsible.”
- People tend to become more conscientious as they grow older.
- Conscientiousness is the best predictor of future job performance: it is linked to better motivation and task completion and also with work satisfaction.
- Research has found that procrastination and impulsivity are genetically linked, suggesting that they stem from similar evolutionary origins. The traits are related to our ability to successfully pursue and juggle goals. Procrastination and impulsivity are therefore heritable.See our page on personal styles for more on this.
Adaptable individuals are very adaptable and resourceful and like variety. They are good at multi-tasking (doing a number of tasks at once): juggling a number of balls at the same time. They are very flexible and comfortable about moving into action without a plan; planning on-the-go. Naturally tolerant of time pressure, they work best close to deadlines. They tend to avoid commitments which interfere with their flexibility, and freedom to do things.
Adaptable people make good event managers and work well in advertising, the media and sales.
Other careers requiring a lot of adaptability include barrister, journalist, arts administrator, hotel managerand management consultancy.
See our page on adaptability for more on this.
Cooperative individuals tend to be prepared to compromise their own ideas and views to get on well with others. They naturally seek consensus and support and praise other team members. They try to keep relations between group members harmonious. they help others to find compromises between differing viewpoints.
They don’t normally like competitive situations.
See our page on team working for more on this.
Also see our strength-based interviews page
How to be assertive in interviews
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
|Assertiveness is the ability to communicate with others in a clear and direct manner. It has been described as “The Art of telling people what you would like them to do, in a way that they don’t feel threatened or put down”. It differs from being aggressive, where you may get what you want, but may upset people and hinder your progress in the long run.
Some people confuse assertiveness with getting your own way all the time, but there may be occasions when you take the decision to back down on an issue, because you realise that the other person has rights too. It also differs from being passive, where you let others get their own way in most situations and don’t stand up for your rights.
Assertive behaviour helps you to:
Being assertive helps you to exercise more control over your life and relationships, and thus may help to increase your self-confidence. It helps you to reduce the stress in your life as you are less bothered about the opinions of others. Non-assertive behaviour can lead to loss of respect from others and loss of self-respect in the long term.
Some people confuse
It can be used in many situations, but can be an important factor in performing well at interviews. In interviews assertive behaviour will help you to come across as a confident candidate who is likely to be able to get things done. It is characterised by:
- a firm clear voice,
- eye contact with the interviewer,
- being relaxed rather than nervous,
- an open body posture (e.g. don’t have your arms and legs folded tightly)
- saying what you want to say using simple, clear language
- a direct open manner.
- See our non-verbal communication test for more information on these
There follows a set of 12 questions relating to your behaviour at interview. Try to answer each question according to how you think you would react in the situation described. The answers to these questions and the analysis of the answers are for your eyes only, so answer as honestly as you can. Try to imagine yourself faced with these situations in a job interview however unlikely they may seem, and then choose from the suggested responses the one closest to what you could imagine yourself saying or doing.
1.The interviewer asks you a series of questions that require detailed answers but gives you little opportunity to set out what you have to offer. What would you be most likely to do?
Answer the questions, but say that you would like to add some information that you considered to be more directly supporting your application.
Answer the questions feeling increasingly disappointed and depressed.
Tell the interviewer that the questions were beside the point.
2. You find yourself in a discussion with the interviewer, whose disapproval is clearly mounting as the discussion becomes an argument. What would you be most likely to do?
Break off the argument while you can still be calm and friendly saying that the discussion is obviously not leading to agreement.
Continue the argument looking for opportunities to offend the interviewer.
Capitulate and accept the interviewer’s opinion.
3. The interviewer keeps asking closed questions that can easily be answered with a single word. What would you be most likely to do?
Answer yes or no , feeling at once relieved not to have to give longer explanations and anxious that you are not giving enough information?
Expand your answers, so that you provide more information in support of your application than the questions demand?
Answer yes or no in irritated or offhand tones that make it clear that you are critical of the interviewer’s style?
4. It seems to you that the interviewer has a dominating personality. What would you be most likely to do?
Become very formal by way of keeping the interviewer at a distance.
Assume a provocatively nonchalant pose and try to overawe the interviewer in your response.
Speak up and say what you mean in as straightforward a way as you can manage.
5. The interviewer makes a congratulatory comment on a post of responsibility that you occupied on a student committee. What would you be most likely to do?
Hasten to assure the interviewer that there were no other applicants for the post, that the committee was not well organised, met infrequently and had no power, and that your own contribution was minimal and inept.
Expand on the importance of your contribution in this and in other posts seeking to overwhelm the interviewer with your ability.
Accept the compliment with a brief indication of pleasure.
6. The interviewer – for some personal reason that they explain to you – is upset. You feel a little unsettled by this. What would you be most likely to do?
Maintain an indifferent silence while you wait for the interviewer to recover.
Briefly express your sympathy and wait patiently to see how the interviewer responds.
Show your embarrassment and attempt to soothe the interviewer’s distress by minimising the cause.
7. The interviewer asks you a technical question, to which you do not know the precise answer, since your course did not cover this field in any detail. What would you be most likely to do?
Tell the interviewer that they could have seen from your application form that your course did not cover this subject.
Flounder into the question feeling that you cannot admit that you do not know the answer.
Say that your course did not cover this subject and that you do not know the answer, but go on to offer a probable answer based on logic, limited knowledge and common sense.
8. The interviewer becomes very aggressive, raises their voice and makes remarks you consider insulting. What would be your most likely reaction?
You offer a corresponding display of anger.
You shrink back in your chair or beat a hasty retreat to the door.
You try to remain calm and tell the interviewer as firmly as you can that you consider their remarks insulting and that you have no intention of contributing to the interview until they calm down. You add that if they continue in their current vein you will consider the interview to be at an end.
9. You feel extremely nervous at an interview, and you are quite sure that your nervousness is apparent to the interviewer. What would you be most likely to do?
Admit to your nervousness with as much good humour as you can muster adding a very brief explanation: such as that the situation is uniquely unfamiliar and that the outcome of the interview is very important to you.
Adopt a truculent manner to disguise your anxiety.
Make no comment on your condition for fear of bringing it to the interviewer’s attention.
10. The interviewer asks an hypothetical question: what would you do in a given situation under certain specified circumstances? The situation and the circumstances are so far fetched as to seem both confusing and ludicrous. What would you be most likely to do?
Allow the interviewer to see your perplexity but not your amusement in the hope that they will take pity on you and help you out?
Allow the interviewer to see that you find certain aspects of the question comic, but answer it seriously, thinking your way steadily through its complexities and asking for clarification on points of obscurity?
Disguise both your feelings of perplexity and amusement and resist answering the question on the grounds it is stupid?
11. You are invited by the interviewer to say whether you agreed with the employer’s policy as set out in the information that was sent to you before the interview. You had not been happy with all you read. What would you be most likely to do?
Admit that you had some misgivings or reservations on some points of policy and single out one or two examples while at the same time acknowledging that your views may stem from your lack of experience and background knowledge?
Praise the policy statement adding that you did not feel that your endorsement was really significant?
Launch into a comprehensive negative criticism of all the points of policy with which you disagreed together with the changes you would apply if you were the senior policy maker?
12. The interviewer invites you to agree that your course was an easy option. You are offended by the suggestion. Would you be most likely to:-
Respond with anger?
Say – in as even a tone as you can manage and without demonstrating the anger you may feel – that you are offended by the suggestion, and give a reasoned assessment of the difficulty of the course?
Agree with the interviewer for fear of giving offence, although you feel hurt, intimidated and angry
Your behaviour can be classified into three main types: assertive, aggressive and passive. The results given below tell you how many of your responses fell into each of the above categories.
Assertive Responses are based on clear, open, straightforward communications. They demonstrate a respect both for the interviewer and yourself, saying what you mean without being impolite, asking for what you want without making demands. This style is far more likely to create a positive impression than either aggressiveness or non-assertion. Assertive behaviour is not specifically designed to get you what you want in all situations, in fact it involves negotiation and compromise. The long term effects of such a style are that you are likely to develop a better sense of control and of having value and significance.
Direct, responsible, honest, clear, accepting, forgiving, spontaneous, effective responses.
I have the right to:
|Be open, but remember that the interview is not a confessional. Be positive – even about negative experiences.|
- make mistakes!
- express my feelings, opinions and values
- state my own needs and set my own priorities
- be treated with respect as an equal human being
- say yes or no
- change my mind
- say I don’t understand
- ask for what I want
- not take responsibility for other people’s problems.
Aggressive Responses are characterised by an attempt to punish or outcountenance the person with whom you are dealing. Such responses may occasionally be appropriate or even necessary, but you are asking for trouble if you use this style in an interview. You might just get away with the aggressive responses in questions 4, 5 and 6, but don’t bank on it. If you are generally aggressive in your behaviour, most people will choose to stay clear of you and to organise their jobs and their lives in ways that do not involve you.
Arrogant, pushy, bullying, blaming, sarcastic, vengeful, callous, manipulative, offensive responses.
Passive or non-Assertive Responses:
Passive or non-Assertive Responses may seem polite and accommodating, but they give the impression of lack of drive, confidence and self-respect. Unless you are applying for a job that offers no room for initiative, they are unlikely to create a good impression, and as a general style passive or non-assertive behaviour is likely to leave you feeling like a doormat and full of resentment. Interviewers may pity you, but few of them are likely to choose you.
Apologetic, inhibited, deferential, powerless, avoiding, moaning responses.
The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate and make a distinction between the different kinds of response that interviewees make in job interviews and to give you a chance to consider if you need to adjust your usual style in this situation.
Answers to the questions:
|Before you start this quiz, remember that there are no absolute rules for CVs. The only real arbiter of a CV is whether it gets you the job or not: a CV covered in bright pink polkadots on orange paper is a successful CV if it results in a job offer!
There are 23 questions for you to answer and you will be given a score at the end. Click on “First Question” to begin.
TRUE PERHAPS FALSE
What your score means:
- 20-23. You’re a real hot shot when it comes to CVs.
- 13-19. Quite good, but a little more study of our CV pages may convert your CV from good to extra-special.
- Below 13. Sounds like your CV needs some work to get it into shape. Don’t worry though, by having taken this quiz, you’ve already taken the first step …..
Do remember that writing CVs is not an exact science, so you might disagree with one or two of the answers given here. How many points you scored is not important as long as you have gained some understand of what makes a good CV. After all the best CVs are those in which the writer has looked at all the advice but now goes further to produce a CV is a style that most suits them as an individual.
- Action verbs
- Example CVs and Covering Letters
- Competency-based applications and interviews
- Choosing and Using Referees
- Mature Students
- Working Abroad
Interview Skills Quiz
In this quiz you will be asked 18 questions about interview skills. For each question, you have to choose from one of three or four alternatives. You can choose only one of the alternatives. Only your first response will be marked. At the end of the quiz, you will be given a score on your knowledge of interviews.
- Score 32-36. You’ve practically got the job already!
- Score 28-31. You are quite well prepared for the interview but perhaps still need to brush up on one or two areas.
- Score 24-27. There are still parts of your interview technique which seem to be giving you problems. Work through ourinterview skills web pages
- Score under 24. You aren’t really ready for interviews yet – perhaps you’ve just started to think about them. Work carefully through our interview skills web pages and then try the quiz again!
Body Language in Interviews
The following quiz will ask you a variety of questions about your non-verbal communication in interviews. Don’t take it too seriously, but it should provide some useful pointers on what to do and what not to do.
1. In a job interview, a student being interviewed in posture A suddenly moved to posture B.
Give a possible explanation.
A. The interviewee feels defensive
B. The interviewee feels cold
C. The interviewee is becoming more relaxed
2. A piece of research showed that when people meet for the first time, there are three important factors. These are given below.
Which is the most important?
A. Content – what they say.
B. How they sound (tone of voice – accent, pitch, variation and tempo of speech).
C. Body Language.
3. Another piece of research found that certain non-verbal behaviours (e.g. not including dress and appearance) showed a statistically significant correlation with job interview success.
Name ONE of these behaviours from the list below:
A. Firm handshake
B. Regular eye contact
C. Sitting up straight
E. Head nodding
F. Loud voice
4. Which of the following statements are likely to be true about the two people here?
A. They are of similar status. They agree with each others views.
B. They are of different status. They disagree with each other.
5) Based on the positions of the desk and chairs as you enter the room, which of these two interviews are likely to be the more formal?
6). Whilst on holiday in Greece, you end up one day at a little out of the way Greek village where nobody speaks English. You decide to study job opportunities at the local taverna with your 4 companions and try to order a round of 5 drinks signing with your hands. What happens next?
A. You are treated like a long-lost relative
B. You wake up in hospital with 2 black eyes, and a bruised ego.
RESULTS OF THE QUIZ
10 points or more and you are a body language/NVC wizard!
Don’t take this quiz too seriously of course: non-verbal communication is notoriously open to misinterpretation – even by experts. The key point to take from this exercise is that how you act is at least as important in an interview as what you say!
1. The posture with arms and legs crossed (POSTURE B) is called a CLOSED posture. It usually signifies a defensive or negative attitude, but beware of misinterpretation – the person may just be cold or just not have pockets! If the body is very erect and bent back it can also convey invulnerability. The other posture with arms and legs uncrossed (POSTURE A) is called an OPEN posture and usually suggests a more relaxed, open attitude.
Give yourself 2 points for answer A.
2. Research by Albert Mehrabian suggested that body language was the most important, followed by how you sound, with what is actually said being the least important! Mehrabian now says that this only applies when a person is talking about their likes and dislikes “unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable”. Even so, it’s still a salutary lesson that we shouldn’t just focus on a person’s words.
Get 2 points for answer C
Researchers at the University of Glasgow found that people take under a second to form an impression of someone’s personality based on just their voice. Voices transmit information about our gender, age, strength and personality. Researchers extracted the single word “hello” from passages recorded by a number of individuals and asked 320 people to rate this for personality traits including trustworthiness, dominance and attractiveness. All ten traits scored on average 0.92 meaning that people agreed closely to the extent each voice represented each trait. The pitch of the voice influenced how trustworthy the person seemed: a man who raises his pitch becomes more trustworthy, whereas a girl who glides from a high to a low pitch is seen as more trustworthy than one whose voice goes up at the end of the word. Apparently Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were both trained to make their voices seem more dominant.
|Researchers at Goldsmith’s College found that female students who gave sidelong glances, gazed at the floor, fiddled with their hands, touched their hair, nodded their heads vigorously and kept answers to questions short were more likely to be offered jobs.
Men who faced the interviewer head-on, boasted about their success, didn’t nod their heads too much and gave long answers to questions did better.
This was based on 60 students applying for jobs with leading companies. The study hoped to help interviewers to avoid unconscious discrimination due to sexual stereotypes.
3. Although all of these (except perhaps a loud voice) probably do contribute towards a good impression at interview, the three that had a statistically significant correlation were found to be eye contact,smiling, and surprisingly nodding your head! To complicate matters further, some recent research found that head nodding was seen as positive in women, but not in men, whereas too much eye contact was seen as negative in women candidates! (see panel to the right).
Karl Grammer of the University of Vienna found that women show interest in a man by regular eye contact, toying with their hair, tidying their clothes, and regular head nodding. He also found they make the same signals in the first minute of meeting a man whether they like him or not. Such flirting only shows real interest if it continues longer than four minutes. Grammer suggests women use the signals to keep the man’s interest until they have decided he is worthwhile getting to know better.
We find people who look directly at us more likeable and more attractive. This is especially true if they are smiling. However staring at the interviewer all the time could be perceived as hostile!
Having a deep voice may also pay benefits at interview. Researchers at Duke University found that voters are more likely to pick candidates with a deeper voice whether the speaker was male or female. They made recordings of both male and female speakers and then altered the pitch of their subjects’ voices and found that listeners “voted” more frequently for the “candidate” with the lower voice. Women with lower voices were perceived to be stronger, more trustworthy and competent. A lower tone gave male candidates a distinct advantage on the corporate ladder with a 22.1 MHz pitch decrease equalling an annual compensation increase of $187,000!
|Some thirty inches from my nose
The frontier of my Person goes,
And all the untilled air between
Is private pagus or demesne.
Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes
I beckon you to fraternize,
Beware of rudely crossing it:
I have no gun, but I can spit.
Different cultures have different interpersonal distances. In European culture 30 inches is about the acceptable limit – closer than this and you may feel that your body space has been invaded making you uncomfortable. In other cultures such as that of Arabia the acceptable distance is much closer whereas in the USA it is slightly more than in Europe. This can least to perceptions of impoliteness and rudeness in interactions between different cultural groups.
In one US embassy party in Arabia it was noticed that the Americans were nearly all standing with their backs against a wall when talking to Arabic guests – every time the Arabic guests had tried to get closer to maintain the normal body space for their culture, the Americans had backed away – this had continued until they were against the walls!
A US study found that students with a higher body mass index were less likely to be offered a place at graduate school. The study found evidence of a link in people’s minds between BMI and lack of academic ability. This association is of course completely false but is is another example of the well known finding that people who are deemed to be physically attractive are perceived to have positive qualities.
Get 2 points for any of B, D or E
4. When people copy each others posture, it is called postural echo or mirroring. e.g. in a pub, friends will often pick up their drinks at the same time. It occurs subconsciously when people have similar views, the same status, or like each other. Strangers often studiously avoid mirroring each others postures. Paraphrasing what the other person is saying to you is a verbal version of mirroring, and can show that you are listening carefully to the other person.
In research on this an actor played an interviewee and mimicked the posture of the interviewer. Interviewers showed no awareness of this mimicry but rated the interviewer more favourably considering that he thought more like they did and identified with them. However, beware of consciously mirroring interviewers to try to make them like you – most personnel managers will probably know far more about this than you do!
Get 2 points for A
Research in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences” by McCormick, Geniole, Keyes and Carre found that men with wider faces are more likely to cheat. Men were no more likely than women to cheat, but men with larger facial width-to-height ratios were both more likely to cheat, and cheated to a greater extent. These wide-faced men also scored high on the psychopathic personality factor of “fearless dominance”
A study published earlier this year that found a correlation between facial width-to-height ratios and testosterone concentrations. “Testosterone is associated with dominance, personalized power, leadership, and with antisocial behaviour and risk-taking,” Testosterone levels of boys at puberty may influence “both fearless dominance and face structure,” giving them a certain appearance and also a tendency to behave assertively. Many US presidents have been diagnosed with “fearless dominance”: properly channelled aggression and dominance can confer benefits and positive outcomes.
Another paper suggested that men with wider faces are more likely to explicitly deceive their counterparts in a negotiation, and are more willing to cheat.
According to research at Harvard Business Schoolstriking a “power pose” (an expansive posture with open limbs rather than one with crossed arms and legs) raises testosterone levels by an average of 20% and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) by a similar amount. The posture above is one power position, as is standing with hands on hips with legs apart. Smiling and sitting up straight can lead to positive feelings whereas sitting with hunched, bent shoulders and frowning can make you feel unhappy! Positive posture, like positive visualisation can inculcate positive thoughts leading to positive behaviours.
Adopting power poses beforehand can make you feel more confident at interview. Expansive body postures such as standing upright with hands on your hips, leaning over a desk with hands firmly on the surface, or steepling your hands can increase testosterone, decrease stress, and make you feel more in control, more confident and more assertive. Practicing power poses right before an interview can also increase performance. Research at Harvard Business School found that holding power poses for two minutes before interview led candidates to be evaluated more favourably and increased their chances of a job offer by 20%. So if you’re worried about a job interview or presentation, strike a power pose a few minutes beforehand (not of course at the interview!) but in the washroom, or before leaving home.
5. Position B is called the “throne” position. It reinforces the interviewer’s sense of control he/she can see everything that goes on in the room. Old fashioned managers often use this type of arrangement. Also the interviewee’s chair is a long way from the desk increasing the formality. Position A with the desk touching the wall allows for a more informal and less dominating encounter. Sitting side on to the door allows for ease of approach. Sometimes the desk may be absent completely. Doctors and lecturers often use this arrangement. However be careful not to read too much into desk positions, the interviewer may have just borrowed the office for the interview and may not be able to influence the arrangement!
Out of interest researchers at the University of Minnesota found that a tidy desk may suggest generosity, and conventionality whereas a messy desk may relate to creative thinking and stimulating new ideas.“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
Get 2 points for answer B
6. Putting your hand up with five spread fingers is an insult gesture in Greece! Be aware that people from other cultures have different distances they stand apart, loudness of voice, gaze behaviours etc. which can easily be misinterpreted by people of a different culture.
Get 2 points for answer B
Key Points for an interview
- Be prepared to shake hands firmly, but don’t break the interviewers wrist. Similarly a “wet fish” (weak) handshake will suggest a weak character.
- Wait to be invited to sit down.
- Try to relax – don’t sit on the edge of your chair and don’t lean too far back: sit up reasonably straight and still.
- Don’t sit with your arms crossed (see question 1)
- Keep up good eye contact with the interviewer (according to research this apparently is especially important for men) but don’t eyeball them all the time!
- Speak clearly but not too fast: a deeper calm voice suggests authority, whereas as excitable high-pitched voice suggests a nervous personality.
- Head nodding to show agreement can help, especially for female candidates.
- Postural echo (mirroring the interviewer’s posture) can show empathy and agreement but needs to be done very subtly or it might backfire if the interviewer notices that you are doing this!
What is your ideal career?
Careers Explorer is an easy to use program to generate career ideas developed by the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service. By answering job-related questions you can compare your skills, interests and values with common graduate jobs. It will allow you to see which jobs might be worth further investigation as a future career.
Explorer can’t tell you your perfect job! There are no right or wrong answers. It simply takes your answers and compares them with ratings for a variety of jobs to produce a list of best matches. If you make false assumptions about yourself, for example you think you are a good communicator when you are not, the program will produce job suggestions which match your assumptions, therefore try to answer honestly. Explorer deals mainly with jobs open to graduates of any subject, or jobs which you can enter via a postgraduate course (e.g. law, librarianship, psychology). Jobs which require a full undergraduate degree such as electronics or architecture are less well catered for. For these, see What can I do with my degree in…. orProspects Planner a sophisticated career choice program.
Don’t be afraid to change your answers on a “what if” basis or to try the program again at a later date – your values, interests and skills may have changed. You don’t have to answer all the questions (although you must answer at least 3to get meaningful results). You can get a profile of jobs based on answers to just a few questions if you wish to explore the effects of certain factors.
You will need Flash to use Explorer. You probably have it installed, but if not, you can download it by clicking here Be patient as the program may take a few seconds to load. If PRINTING your results change your printer settings from “portrait” to “landscape” to get a better printout.
The program is very easy to use, but if you encounter difficulties, please use the walkthough here.
We’d like your feedback on Explorer: what did you find most useful? Did you have any problems using the program? How could it be improved? Please email Bruce Woodcock B.E.Woodcock@kent.ac.uk with your comments.
If having used Careers Explorer you are still finding it difficult to choose a career direction, then be aware that your skills may be pulling you in one direction, whereas your interests and values are pulling you in another. For example you might be good at maths, but might dislike the thought of using it in a job. The next step might be to discuss these issues with a careers adviser.
The program is very easy to use, but if you encounter difficulties, please use the following walkthough.
When you open the program you will find a list of factors important in career choice. The first one is WRITING. If you click on this it will open a drop-down menu with a list of choices (see right):
Choose your response from the list. In this case the user has responded that they would like very much a career involving lots of writing.
The definitions box will give a definition of what is meant by this factor
If you would like to ignore this factor , then leave your response as neutral.
Once you have made choices for at least three factors, click on the SUGGEST CAREERS button and a list of career suggestions will appear (see right):
You can click on any job title to bring up brief details of the job, in this case Event Manager
You can if you wish to then click on the BLUE UNDERLINED JOB TITLE in the job description, to go to a web page about this career. This will open in a new window, so make sure that your browser is not set to block pop ups or it will not appear!
Employability Skills Game
Match up the skill with it’s description by clicking on pairs of cards
Job Matching Game
Match the jobs to their definitions by dragging the names onto the correct descriptions.
For a harder challenge click on the “Ancient Jobs” button and find out what loblolly boys, bullwhackers, pettifoggers, quarrel pickers, necessary women, bodgers and nob thatchers did!
More unusual job titles
ambient replenishment controller = supermarket shelf stacker
regional head of services, infrastructure and procurement = caretaker.
humour enablement consultant = comedian
location change management specialist = house removals person
arthymic oscillating technician = shaker
person-centred transition facilitator = social worker
life explorer, multimedia storyteller and experience architect = journalist
head of offending services = probation officer
low intensity psychological wellbeing practitioner = mental health nurse
For more on this see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8537055.stm
APPLICATIONS AND INTERVIEWS
- Numerical reasoning test
- Numerical reasoning test 2
- Verbal reasoning test
- Verbal (synonyms) test
- Non-verbal reasoning test
- Letter sequences (Logical thinking)
- Spelling and punctuation test
- Creative jobhunting
How to network effectively: vital for competitive jobs such as those in the media!
- How to create a portfolio
- Using social media in jobhunting
- Choosing and using referees
- Job-hunting problems
What to do if you have poor A-levels, degree class or a criminal record.
- Maintaining morale when jobhunting/coping with rejection
- How to deal with job offers
- NEW: Moodle Careers Employability Award
- On-line application forms
- Graduate job interviews
- Assessment Centres
- Our “Making Applications” booklet (pdf version) covers CVs, covering letters and application forms. To view all pages properly click on “View”, “Page Display” and “Two Page View” when the pdf document opens
- Interview skills
- Telephone and Skype interviews
- What are the ten most common interview questions?
- Competency-based interviews
- Case interviews
Used in management consultancy and investment banking
- Strength-based interviews
- How to dress for interviews
- Body language in interviews
Quiz on non-verbal communication.
- Cultural Fit Tests and Interviews
- Commercial Awareness
- Interview reports
Completed by students after interviews: details of questions asked, and tips. (campus only)
- Assertiveness in interviews
- Nightmare interviews
How to deal with an interviewer from Hell ….
- 150 common interview questions and how to answer them.
- Practice interviews
For teaching, accountancy, banking, journalism, marketing, personnel management, retailing, Civil Service, postgraduate study, scientific research, computing & law. You are asked common interview questions & given tips on how to answer.
- On-line interview videos
- Science interviews
- Computing interviews
- Legal interviews
- Interview quiz
- Second interviews
- Assessment & selection centres
- Example assessment centres
Timetables for typical assessment centres.
- Teamworking skills
- Interactive exercise and tips for group work exercises in assessment centres.
- Making a presentation
- In-tray and e-tray exercises
- Role plays
- Case study The type you might get at an assessment centre.
- Business game example of the type used at assessment centres.
- Save the World! Environmental business game
- Balloon debate again type you might get at an assessment centre.
- Population Explosion! quick, simple business game
|Here you can try answering common questions found in graduate interviews and gain advice on how to answer. The questions are based on real questions asked at interview to University of Kent students and graduates. You will get tips on how to answer each question.
See also questions asked in interviews for:
- PLACEMENTS and INTERNSHIPS
- SALES including MEDICAL SALES
- ACTUARIAL Traineeships
- MANAGEMENT CONSULTANCY
- Interviews for MEDICAL SCHOOL
- PHARMACY Interviews
- See also our INTERVIEWS PAGES for much more help on interview skills, aptitude tests and selection centres.
|We need graduates who have the confidence to get involved, who think critically about their work, and who have the initiative to find ways of doing things better.