How to pass Verbal Reasoning Test without Cheating!

In my second year at university I made 16 internship applications.
If you’ve ever done an application you will know how time-consuming and painstakingly tedious they are!

However the WORST thing was that I kept failing the VERBAL REASONING tests!!!

I kept messing up between FALSE and CANNOT SAY.

Which made all the hours spent on the application form totally wasted!

I was desperate to find a solution. And I was NOT WILLING to cheat by getting help from friends.

I figured that I probably needed to practice a lot more. They say practice makes perfect!

So I bought a package containing practice tests for £120
and I started working through the 20 practice tests.

This was the turning point.

What I learnt is that there is a SIMPLE mental trick to getting every single question right!

The Trick:

Imagine you are testing a child’s comprehension.
Imagine you are trying to trick them to see whether they truly understood the passage.

TRUE: you can prove the statement from the text. You can pin point the EVIDENCE.

FALSE: you can find a CONTRADICTION and can pin point EVIDENCE to prove this statement wrong

CANNOT SAY: impossible to determine this statement from the passage alone– NEED FURTHER INFO.

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I also want to share to CRITICAL TIPS.

Top Tip No1:

READ THE QUESTIONS FIRST.

Don’t bother reading the text Passage. Go straight to the question and look for key words which you can use to scan the passage to help you locate the relevant text. Then look for the evidence!

What most people do is waste 30-60 seconds reading the passage first. I consider it a waste of time because they still have to go through the whole process of looking for key words to locate the relevant text an then see if the answer is TRUE, FALSE or CANNOT SAY.

You can save 30-60seconds per question by skipping straight to the question!

Top Tip No.2:

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Keep practicing you comfortably get 80-90% in the practice tests.

Remember that if you don’t pass these tests, firstly you have wasted an application, secondly you have made the hours spent on the application form absolutely pointless.

Be smart 🙂

The best package I recommend is the same one as the one I bought in my second year.

It is now only £35 instead of £120!!!

Click here to see info about the package (there are different ones depending on what you need. The £35 one is best value for money)

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with pride,
Tanim Zaman

Answers to Competency Based Questions

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Tanim Zaman

There is a huge amount of information online about what a Competency Based Interview is.  There are also an endless number of sites telling you exactly how you ought to structure your answers.

Most of them will regurgitate the same old mantra… use the S.T.A.R. Method.

However I have rarely come across anyone sharing an example of an outstanding answers. A BulletProof Answers, as I like to say.

So I thought I should share some in order to help people understand where the benchmark is.

Example 1 – The Part-Time Job Example

Tell us about a time when your communication skills made a difference to a situation.

S: While at university I worked part-time as a Training Advisor, running trainings and workshops for students and staff on MS Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. One day me and a colleague were delivering an advanced Excel training to a group of 6 students. One of the students was having trouble understanding how to apply Pivot tables to the exercise we gave them and I noticed my colleague struggling to explain it in a simple and accessible way. She asked me for help.

T: I had to find the best way to explain the concept, by adapting and tayloring  my communication style and skillfully guiding the student through the steps involved in creating the correct pivot table. I also forced myself to empathize with him and to understand his frustration and confusion- which reminded me of the time when I was learning and struggling myself.

A: Firstly I asked the student to explain to me what he understood about Pivot Tables. By listening very carefully I was able to gauge what his understanding was, but also establish what type of communication style he had. When he spoke to me he adopted a very simple and methodical approach, so I knew I had to do the same with him. Instead of explaining the whole concept in one go, I reasoned with him step-by-step, so that he would be able to follow the logic. I knew explaining the abstract concept may not be effective, because I had observed my colleague doing that with him unsuccessfully.

R: After having guided him step-by-step, he was able to finish the exercise and he thanked me enthusiastically for having helped him to finally understand and apply pivot tables. He mentioned that the step-by-step approach really helped him understand the logic behind the tool and that he was confident he would be able to comfortably use Pivot Tables in the future.

 

Example 2 – The Wacky Example

Tell us about a situation where you had to influence someone to achieve a different course of action

S: A few months ago I went on a fishing trip with my grandad. He took me to a spot in Dover where he had been going for many years. I knew that fishing requires a lot of patience, but when we didn’t catch anything for several hours I started wondering whether there may be a better spot somewhere nearby. I was quite keen to explore the vicinity for a better fishing spot but he was adamant that he knew the area well and that we wouldn’t have better luck in a different place.

T: I wanted to convince my grandad to move to a better fishing spot so that we could have  a better chance at catching more fish.

A: I knew that in order to convince my grandad I had to establish some credibility (because he was way more experienced than me). I therefore quietly took out my phone and did some research on fishing forums online to try and find some information about the best spots in Dover. Once I had found some tips from a very recent forum post, I knew that I had to deliver my case in a compelling way and that the only way to convince him was to frame my suggestion as a win-win. So I told my grandad that some individuals from a specialist fishing website caught lots of fish last week in a spot not too far from where we were. I proposed that we should go there and give it a try for one hour and that if we have no luck we can return to the initial spot. I reminded him that we both want the same outcome (catch more fish!) and that the advice was not coming from me, but from a specialist fishing website (credibility).

R: After some initial reluctance and questions about the reliability of the forum information, my grandad agreed to my suggestion and admitted that usually he catches something within the hour. He told me that he was willing to give it a go because of the proof I provided, which meant my strategy was critical and successful. We had much better luck in the new spot and ended up catching 2 fishes within 45mins – not as many as we wanted, but at least we caught more than my grandad’s spot!

Learn the 4 Easy Steps to create your own BulletProof answers at: www.bulletproofcompetencyanswers.com

How to Answer the Motivational Question

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Why do you want to work in [Insert industry/role]?

What attracts you to our company?

In the ideal world these questions should be the easiest to answer.
Finance/Accounting/Law/IT/Consulting/Healthcare etc has been your life-long passion. Everything you have done so far was to get you in this chosen industry. Your work experience and skill set have also been carefully fine-tuned for the industry.

However in the real world, the vast majority of students never had the luxury of such a journey. Most of us struggle to find half a good reason why we want to be in Wealth Management as opposed to Audit.

It is very worrying how little thought many of us give to this colossally important question!

The motivation question is bound to come up at application stage as well as at interview stage. You can’t escape it.

My advice has always been the same.

  1. Think deeply, carefully and HONESTLY about WHY you want to work in that industry (close your eyes and look within the depths of your soul…lol)

-Seriously, why do you want to work in [insert your industry/role]?

-What is so special about [insert your industry/role]?

– Why are you particularly well suited for [insert your industry/role]?

  1. Your answer should make it sound like working in the chosen industry is the next natural step for you, based on your skillset, ambitions and passions.
  1. Research the chosen firm to find initiatives, projects, values which you strongly identify with and that make it the ‘ideal’ company for you to be in.

 

The best answers are those which tell a COHERENT STORY. The story leads to the chosen industry/role being the natural next move.

Here are some examples from my own answers.

In the summer after graduation I needed to do an internship to clear some overdrafts and fund some East Asia travelling. I fancied doing something different… so applied for HR internships.

This is a particularly good example because having mainly done internships in Finance/Accounting/Banking, I suddenly had to explain why I wanted to work in HR.

Why have you chosen to apply to work in HR? (Barclays)

“From my experiences leading and managing organizations such as the LSE SU Islamic Society and RIC Football Club I have experienced first-hand the importance of having the right people, with the right skills, doing the right job. Often it is not always possible to find the perfect match, and that is why training and development are fundamentally important.

As President of the LSE SU Islamic Society I found myself facing challenges such as attracting and recruiting new team members, being heavily under resourced and trying to identify, nurture and develop the future leaders of the society. I faced the exact same issues when I set up and developed the RIC Football club.

One of the main challenges I consistently come across with any team I work with is maintaining their level of commitment and dedication. My curiosity for the subject has lead me to enroll on various management and leadership programmes where I learnt fascinating aspects of HR management and Leadership, such as the proper use of Emotional Intelligence, behavioral incentives, nudges, distinctive culture and the importance of motivation.

People are the core of any organization and can be the major driver for its success. The HR internship programme will give me the unique opportunity to witness how a world-class organization nurtures and develops talent at a global level, hence satisfying my curiosity for understanding how to unlock potential and maximize impact.”

P.S. I got the internship and it turned out to be the most fulfilling role I have done to date, absolutely loved it!

Did you see how I made HR sound like the natural next step for me? My answer was totally unique to me. No one else can say something like that and that make my answer undeniably original and credible.

 

Here’s an example of a totally different application, answering the motivational question about the company:

Why do you want to work for Aldi?

“My attraction to Aldi stems from its unique success as the fastest-growing supermarket chain in the UK. I think this is phenomenal given the competitiveness of the industry and the current economic climate. This to me is an indication that Aldi’s ethos and concepts of efficiency are a winning formula and that there is no better place for a career which is exciting, prosperous and full of opportunities.

I strongly believe in Aldi’s mission to provide the highest possible quality for the lowest possible price. This is exactly what today’s shoppers want and the current aggressive expansion of Aldi stores across the UK is testament to that.

One other key reason for my desire to work for Aldi is the unmatched level of responsibility and unique intensive training that is on offer. Having experienced a wide variety of industries ranging from retail, accountancy, financial services to investment banking, I have developed a strong understanding of my skillset and interests, which has allowed me to have a clear vision for which career path I wish to take. I thrive in roles of leadership and I enjoy working with people and real tangible products. There is not a single graduate scheme on the market which appeals to me and my career aspiration better than the Aldi Area Manager Scheme. I wish to become an exceptional business leader, and there is no better place for me to achieve this dream other than Aldi.”

The companies you are applying for want to be assured that you are genuinely interested in them and in their industries, and you’re not just applying just for the sake of it (surprisingly too many people do that!).

The answer to the motivational question should be something personal. Something no one else can say. Only then will it sound totally genuine and convincing!

I hope this will help you not only to craft mesmerizing answers but to also make you think critically about you career choices 🙂

Yours truly,

Tanim Zaman

Tanim Zaman

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