Success at Work


Reasoning tests are designed to test your ability to solve certain kinds of problems or to think in an analytically sound manner in order to make logical decisions. If you are a candidate for a job where it is important to analyze written material and make logical assumptions, inferences and deductions then you may be asked to take a verbal reasoning test.

Alternatively, if numbers are important in the job, say engineering or accounting, you may have to take a numerical reasoning test. These are just two of the many types of reasoning tests.

Verbal reasoning - sample question

Questions are designed to test your ability to draw correct inferences from written material. Read the paragraph and decide whether the statements below are implied by the paragraph or not. You have 3 choices - true: follows from paragraph, false: contradicts paragraph, can't tell: not enough information to say.


''The chief executive announced today that more emphasis will now be placed on innovation. Investment in product development is to be doubled and new product revenue targets will be set for the first time. A higher rate of new product introduction is needed to beat the competition and ensure profitability in the long term.''

  1. The company failed to emphasize innovation in the past.
  2. There were no targets for new product revenue before now.
  3. The company is not currently making a profit.
  4. The company is getting beaten by its competitors.


  1. False - they are just increasing their emphasis.
  2. True - see where it says ''targets will be set for first time''.
  3. Can't tell - ''ensure profitability'' could mean either.
  4. Can't tell - competitors could be catching up but still behind

Numerical reasoning - sample question

You are presented with a variety of business figures set out in tables and asked questions that require you to interpret the figures correctly and perform some elementary calculations. A calculator is usually allowed.


Paris Amsterdam 510km
Paris London 399km
London Amsterdam 480km
Paris Frankfurt 591km
Frankfurt Amsterdam 441km
London Frankfurt 693km

How far is your journey if you travel from London to Amsterdam via Paris and Frankfurt before returning to London via Paris?

a) 2862, b) 1911, c) 2340, d) 2163

Answer: 2340

Career Management Tips

Being assessedThe most important point is to be yourself. While you want to make a good impression, there is no point trying to fool the interviewer if that means getting a job where you are a poor fit. If you worry too much about assessment, you are likely to show your anxiety and not do well anyway.

An assessment center is a series of job related tests designed to simulate aspects of the target job that you are being considered for. The tips offered here won't enable you to succeed when going through an assessment center, but they will give you some idea of what to expect and how best to approach some of the specific exercises you may have to face.


Case study, written exercise (In Tray/In Basket)

Avoid narrow approach - just problem solving.Use team work, show leadership, communicate, etc.Think of all the ways you can demonstrate the full range of competencies in your responses.

Group discussion exercises

Again, avoid narrow approach - just contributing content to solve the problems.Ask questions to involve others.Probe input of others to assess implications, risks, benefits.Help to structure the discussion, keep it on track.Stress agreement to resolve conflict.Summarize occasionally.


Structure your presentation by stating your conclusions first and what you are going to cover.Plan to illustrate several competencies.Maintain eye contact, vary your voice, speak with enthusiasm and conviction. Move a bit to show physical energy.Occasionally ask if what you are saying is clear, makes sense.Summarize at the end.Practice several times if presentations make you nervous.

Customer role play

Build a bit of rapport first.Ask what the customer would like to achieve in this meeting and agree an agenda.Ask questions - 2 types - 1. to understand the customer's needs, 2. to involve customer in solution - ''What would you like to see happen?''Strive for win-win solution, actively create a partnership climate.

Performance role play with subordinate

Use appropriate praise early, middle and end to maintain subordinate's self esteem.Ask questions to fully understand subordinate's side of storyAsk how subordinate feels issues might be tackled.Express confidence in subordinate's future and ability to turn performance around.Offer support as appropriate, i.e. coaching, training.Try to get commitment from subordinate rather than demanding it or imposing it.Become more demanding if supportive approach fails.Agree specific improvement targets, set dates and agree follow up meeting.

Career Management Tips

Job InterviewPreparing for interviews is essential if you want to do well. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is nothing you can do to influence the outcome of an interview other than answer questions honestly.

The more knowledgeable you are about the company the more convincing you will be that you are genuinely interested. If you know nothing about their business or plans, they could perceive you as treating them like a number, nothing special that is. Research the company ahead of time, especially on your likely boss.