Inductive Reasoning Definition (With Examples)

inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning is a type of logical thinking that involves forming generalizations based on specific incidents you've experienced, observations you've made, or facts you know to be true, or false. 

Inductive Reasoning in the Workplace

Employers place a high value on workers who can think logically as they solve problems and carry out tasks, and who can discern patterns and develop strategies, policies or proposals based on those tendencies.

These employees are practicing inductive reasoning. 

A question about your inductive reasoning skills might come up in a first or second interview. As a job candidate, you should review your past roles and identify situations in which you have applied inductive reasoning. You should think of times when inductive reasoning resulted in positive outcomes, as this information can help convince employers that you can independently apply knowledge learned on the job and pick up the role quickly.  

Here are some examples that will enhance your understanding of inductive reasoning. Read them over, and then reflect on instances of inductive reasoning in your own professional experience. 

Examples of Inductive Reasoning Skills

1. A teacher notices that students learned more when hands-on activities were incorporated into lessons, and then decides to regularly include a hands-on component in her spring lessons.


2. An architect discerns a pattern of cost overages for plumbing materials in jobs and opts to increase the estimate for plumbing costs in subsequent proposals.

3. A stock broker observes that Intuit stock increased in value four years in row during tax season and recommends a buy to clients in March.

4. A recruiter conducts a study of recent hires who have achieved success and stayed on with the organization.  She finds that they graduated from three local colleges, so she decides to focus recruiting efforts on those schools.

5. A salesperson presents testimonials of current customers to suggest to prospective clients that her products are high quality and worth the purchase.

6. A defense attorney reviews the strategy employed by lawyers in similar cases and finds an approach that has consistently led to acquittals.  

7. A production manager examines cases of injuries on the line and discerns that many injuries occurred towards the end of long shifts.  The manager proposes moving from 10 hour to 8-hour shifts based on this observation. 

8. A bartender becomes aware that customers give her higher tips when she shares personal information, so she intentionally starts to divulge personal information when it feels appropriate to do so.

9. An activities leader at an assisted living facility notices that residents light up when young people visit.  She decides to develop a volunteer initiative with a local high school, connecting students with residents who need cheering up.  

10. A market researcher designs a focus group to assess consumer responses to new packaging for a snack product.

  She discovers that participants repeatedly gravitate towards a label stating “15 grams of protein." The researcher recommends increasing the size and differentiating the color of that wording.  

Related: What is Critical Thinking? | What is Creative Thinking? | Deductive Reasoning

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