The “7 Survival Skills” – Oral & Written Communication

The “7 Survival Skills[1],” established by Tony Wagner, contribute to your success at Sheridan College, in your career. These blogs posts are dedicated to explaining how you can 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 the series click here.

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What is it?

Communication is the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else. This also involves active listening skills to verify what was heard and confirm understanding from both parties. Communication helps to deepen connections with others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving.

In the Classroom

You can develop your communication skills by listening in class, answering discussion questions, presenting projects via written documents and oral presentations.You can also develop these skills in group projects through the collaboration with team members to deliver a desired outcome. Effective communication is important to resolve team conflicts and project issues.

Outside the Classroom

Communication skills in theory are relatively easy to develop. Just by speaking with other people, and presenting ideas, and generating connections, you are communicating. However, developing effective communication skills is difficult. This can be possibly achieved by joining clubs where being part of the team requires ongoing communication to accomplish successful programming, events, or campaigns.

Club opportunity: Sheridan Bruins Toast Masters

The purpose of the club is “to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”

Possible Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to explain a difficult concept or idea to someone.
  • Tell us about a time when you were responsible for communicating an unpopular decision/procedure to an individual.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively. What made your communication effective?
  • Tell me about a time when you were asked to summarize complex points.
  • Describe a situation when you had to communicate a message to someone, when you believed that you were right, and they wrong, but they were reluctant to accept your point of view.
  • I want you to present and describe an idea/concept/object to me. How and what you present is completely up to you. I will give you five minutes to prepare.
  • Can you tell me about a time where you used the following programs to increase your communication abilities:
    • Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook)
    • Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram)
    • Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, AfterEffects)
    • Content Management Systems, i.e WordPress

How to Answer

  1. Interviewers will not only be listening to your answers, they will also be analyzing your ability to demonstrate your oral communication skills. Thus it is important to practice and prepare for your interviews.
    • Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions. Make sure you understand and answer the whole question. If you are unsure if you answered the question completely say “I apologize, can you repeat the question for me?”
    • Take a moment to think of your answer. You do not have to answer right away. You can begin by saying “I just need a moment to think.”
    • Speak slowly and clearly. If you become over-excited; stop, take a breath, apologize, and continue. You can also check with the interviewer if they caught everything you said. Repeat if necessary.
    • Ask if they understand what you are telling them to ensure both parties have an understanding.
  2. Acknowledge what ‘effective communication’ means to you. Use the above description as a starting point.
    • Then provide an example of when you have demonstrated those skills.
    • Make sure you do answer the interview question.
  3. When describing your experience with different computer programs explain how you have used them, for what projects/campaigns, and for what purpose.
  4. Remember the story telling approach to answering interview questions. Visit Critical Thinking post to learn more.


Stay tuned! Next: Accessing & Analyzing Information

Previous: Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Click here to start from the beginning of this blog series.

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

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