Do You Think You’re Clever?


At certain institutions of higher education, it’s the norm to set weird and wonderful questions to see how your interviewees respond. Partly to test their intelligence and lateral thinking, partly to throw them off balance, and partly, I suspect, to appear superior.

In this book the author takes several examples across a range of disciplines and tries to discern their meaning, then provide an answer.

It leads to some wide and varied discussions, showing how many ways there are to interpret the same question, and often straying a long way from topic, yet all somehow linked back to it.

As a study in how you can approach a question from any number of angles, it’s eye opening, but the author does seem to get a little carried away on a few, leaving the subject for a rant of his own. The answers to some questions are so long they could almost constitute their own book.

At the start I found the open-minded approach interesting and it certainly made me reassess the narrow focus many of us take when posed a question, especially in the unnerving situation of interview. By the latter stages I was finding it hard to focus on the rambling answers and the end was met with relief (indeed, I even forgot to write this review for several weeks).

If you’re due to have an interview at a university (and these questions are apparently being asked by employers more and more as well) then it would be worth a read because I think it’ll change how you answer questions. In fact I think something similar could benefit a lot of students before they leave education so they learn to think, rather than just repeating what they have been taught by rote.

I thought the book could be improved if some of the answers were edited to tighten them up. If that makes length an issue they could simply add more questions.

Not a bad book and I’d recommend reading the first few answers, maybe dipping in and out, but I’m not sure I can recommend the book be read cover to cover in its entirety, it just felt like a slog.

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This was an copy of the book

Reviewed: 15th June 2013