Excellent communication skills are essential for workplace success. If you've landed an interview, expect to be asked interview questions about how you communicate, and to have your ability to communicate in the workplace tested and evaluated.
Regardless of the role you're applying for, employers seek employees who can get along with others and who can communicate well both verbally and non-verbally.
Read below for suggestions on how to respond to interview questions about communication, and review examples of the best answers.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
When you interview for a job, the hiring manager will ask about communication skills, including how you address issues, how you handle challenging situations, the style of communication you expect from management, and other questions related to your ability to communicate.
In addition to the responses you give, your ability to communicate will be evaluated. What are your verbal and nonverbal communication skills like? How well do you explain your answers? How articulate are you? Do you listen carefully to what the interviewers are saying, or do you interrupt and try to dominate the conversation? Do you look your interviewers in the eye when you speak to them? What does your body language say about you?
When interviewers ask their questions, they do so not only to gain information from you but to see how exactly you communicate through verbal tone and nonverbal expression.
Here are some of the top communication skills the hiring manager will be evaluating:
- Friendliness (are you easy to talk to?)
- Nonverbal communication (do you appear to be stressed or uncomfortable?)
- How clear and concise your responses are
How to Prepare to Answer Questions About Communication
Interviewing can be challenging even for the best communicator. Responding effectively means achieving a balance between listening to what the interviewer is asking, and providing a well-thought-out response to questions.
If you need to brush up on your interviewing skills, take the time to practice. The more comfortable you are in the role of an interviewee, the easier it will be to showcase how well you can communicate.
Practice interviewing with a friend or family member, or even by yourself in front of a mirror. Even though it's not a "real" interview, you'll be able to consider, in advance, how you will respond and how you will connect with your interviewer.
Communication Interview Questions
Preparing in advance by reviewing these interview questions and examples of the best answers about communication will help you in formulating your own unique responses.
- Do you work well with other people?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How would you describe yourself?
- How would your co-workers describe your personality?
- What major challenges and problems have you faced? How did you handle them?
- Describe a difficult work situation/project and how you overcame it.
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What was it like working for your supervisor?
- What do you expect from a supervisor?
- Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?
- How do you handle stress and pressure?
- What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What do people most often criticize about you?
- When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- Give some examples of your teamwork in completing a critical project.
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What can you contribute to this company?
Review sample answers for these questions and more of the top questions that employers ask at job interviews.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are a few sample answers to various interview questions about your communication skills. As you craft and practice your own answers to these questions, remember that your expression, eye contact, and tone of voice are as important as the answers themselves.
“What are you passionate about?”
I am passionate about ensuring the welfare of children, which is why I decided to become a school social worker. When I was a kid, my parents were foster parents, and I couldn’t believe the stories some of our foster kids shared during their time with us. They’d tell me about how sometimes they were so tired or hungry that they couldn’t concentrate in school; a few of them had bad bruises from having been beaten.
So many kids in the foster system fall between the cracks. My hope is that I can identify these high-risk kids and connect them with the resources they need not only to survive, but to thrive.
Why It Works: This answer is effective because the passion the candidate chooses to describe is directly related to the job she’s applying for. She also provides some personal history—demonstrating that she’s open to sharing information about herself in order to better relate to others.
“Why are you the best person for this job?”
Well, I don’t know the other people you’re interviewing, so I can’t say that I’m your “best” candidate. However, I can say that I would be able to hit the ground running and, as I did for my previous employer, provide immediate results for you. During my first quarter with ABC Pharmaceuticals, I ranked as the #1 salesperson in the southeastern region, using my knowledge of medical terminology and the formulary system to increase our client base by 40%.
Why It Works: This is a good example of how to answer a “trick” question—the candidate could easily have gone wrong had his tone been overly boastful or pompous. Instead, he begins with a modest statement but then displays quiet confidence by providing a tangible example of his sales success in the past, proving that he’s a strong producer in his industry.
“How would you describe yourself?”
I’d describe myself as an enthusiastic team player. I played basketball both in high school and in college, so I learned how to work with others to achieve a collective goal. I also learned the importance not only of being able to lead, but also of knowing when I needed to follow. Those skills have served me well in my career as a police officer. I know how to communicate with, listen to, and support my partners and the public, and I’m proactive when it comes to identifying personal conflicts so they can be resolved quickly.
Why It Works: This response illustrates the candidate’s awareness of the elements of good team communications—including the ability to actively listen.
Tips for Giving the Best Response
- Body language counts. Part of being a good communicator is knowing how to use body language. Use a firm handshake to greet your interviewer, sit up straight, and maintain eye contact. Smile, and let your expression convey your enthusiasm for the job and the employer.
- Articulate carefully. Speak as clearly as you can, and keep your tone positive and upbeat. If you are prone to speaking too quickly when you’re nervous (as many people are), remember to breathe between your sentences. It’s fine to take a moment to gather your thoughts before you answer a question.
- Practice active listening. Job interviews are two-way conversations. Demonstrate that you have the active listening skills necessary for effective communications by listening carefully to the interviewer as he or she speaks, without interrupting.
What Not to Say
- Keep it positive. Be sure to keep your responses positive when you respond. Your responses will help show the interviewer your communication skills.
- Don't overdo it. Good communication is sometimes saying less rather than more. Keep your answers concise and focused.
- Don't forget to pay attention. Listening is one of the most important communication skills. Be sure to carefully listen to every question before you respond, so your answer is a match for what you've been asked.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- How do you define success? - Best Answers
- What are your salary expectations? - Best Answers
- Do you have any questions for me? - Best Answers
- Demonstrate your understanding of key communications skills such as active listening, clear articulation, confidence, and empathy.
- Be aware of your body language, and use your expressions and tone of voice to build a friendly but respectful rapport with your interviewer.
- Build self-confidence before your interview by practicing answering questions ahead of time, ideally with the help of a friend or family member willing to role-play the part of your interviewer.