The “7 Survival Skills” – Agility and Adaptability

The “7 Survival Skills[1],” established by Tony Wagner, can significantly contribute to your success at Sheridan College, and your future career. These blogs posts are dedicated to explaining how students may gain these skills in and outside the classroom, how they may be positioned as interview questions, and tips on how to effectively respond. To start from the beginning of this series click here.

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What is it?

The ability to think, draw conclusions, adapt to changes, and learn quickly.

In the Classroom

In general students are expected to adapt to changes and learn new ideas relatively quickly for exams and real world application. In conjunction to course content, agility applies when professors ask questions that require students to think on the spot and possibly apply real-world examples.Self studying is also a way to practice adaptability to test yourself on how well you can learn new concepts, draw conclusions, and generate your own examples. (This is also a great study technique).

School projects are the most applicable example of thinking and drawing conclusions. The trajectory of an assignment may also change, which means that depending on the way students’ reacted, this can also be used as an example of adaptability. Specific assignments can be used as examples on resumes and in interviews. Working on a team project is another example of adaptibility, as it forces students to adapt to different thinking and learning styles to effectively work together and build on each other’s strengths.

Outside the Classroom

Competitions are a great way to develop adaptability skills. Students are required to analyse the case, think critically, and present a recommendation within a specified time frame. This forces students to adapt to the parameters of the competition.

Joining a club may also test student’s ability to adapt to new environments, depending on the interests of students. New projects, events, campaigns give students the chance to think creatively about how to engage Sheridan students, while also managing time conflicts between school and volunteer projects.

Club Opportunity: Human Resources Student Association (HRSA)

Gulmehak Singh, Vice President of the HRSA, indicates that the club assists students to hone the skills they need to enter the workforce, including adaptability. “The weekly meetings usually consist of different real life HR cases, where all the club members unanimously reach a solution applying the knowledge and helping one another… It is a great place to revise and whet all that you have learned in the class along with learning even more from others. The best point of having an academic club is that it takes away the formal set-up of a classroom or a workplace and allows room for errors which are then rectified by you and your fellas together. This promotes extensive learning and reduces the occurrence of those mistakes in the future.” Overall, the HRSA says Gulmehak, has helped to develop skills including team work, adaptability, tolerance. It also provides the space for students to apply knowledge, and network with professionals.

Volunteer Positions Available (Currently Recruiting) Click the links below to learn more

Enactus Executive Positions

PSB Competition Team Executive Positions


Possible Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time where you had to change your approach halfway through a project or task following new input into the project.
  • Tell us about a time where you were expected to learn a new skill/concept in a very short period of time.
  • Tell us about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about the biggest change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it?
  • Describe a situation where you started off thinking that your approach was the best, but needed to alter your course during the implementation.
  • Give an example of a time when you had two important projects competing for your time.
  • Tell me about a time when there was an unexpected event that resulted in you having to take on additional duties.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked in a team and experienced challaenges meeting the goals of the project.

How to Answer

  1. The interviewer is looking for you to describe detailed scenarios where you demonstrate adaptability or agility. This means you should only provide incidents where you were successful in doing so. If this is not possible, explain what you learned from the experience and what you hope to do differently in the future.
  2. Provide a detail description of the scenario  using the step by step process of adapting. See Critical Thinking.

Q: “Tell me about a time when there was an unexpected event that resulted in you having to take on additional duties.”

A: While I was volunteering for ABC Organization, one of my co-workers became ill and was unable to dedicate the same level of commitment as they had expected at the beginning of the year. I decided to take over some of their duties so that ABC Org could continue to provide the same level of service as it always had. On top of my regular duties, which included X, Y, Z; I also became responsible for D, E, F. I managed my time by prioritizing tasks, and asking my co-worker for guidance when I came to complete a task I had never done before. It was an exciting opportunity to develop skills that I otherwise may not have been able to (describe those skills,and how you developed them). I was able to deliver the following events, which I received positive feedback on from other volunteers and some of the attendees. 

Stay tuned! Next post:  Initative & Entrepreneurship

Previous: Collaboration Accross Networks & Leading by Influence

[1] Wagner, T. (2014). Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Retrieved from

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