Interpersonal Skills Interview Questions
During a job interview, you are likely to field questions about your interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills, also known as people skills, are those related to how you interact with others.
Most employers consider interpersonal skills to be very important in employees. Someone with interpersonal skills can work well with others, is a good team player, and communicates effectively.
Because people skills are so important, expect at least a couple of interview questions about your interpersonal skills.
Read below for advice on how to answer questions about interpersonal skills. Also see a list of common questions about interpersonal skills, and sample answers.
The Importance of Interpersonal Questions
An effective worker solves problems, resolves conflicts, and identifies creative solutions. He or she can do this through interpersonal skills. These skills are not hard skills that you can quantify and measure, like computer programming skills or legal knowledge. Instead, they are soft skills – qualities or attitudes that a person demonstrates.
While job candidates may be technically savvy, many struggle working in diverse teams, so it's important to find workers who can work collaboratively. Therefore, interpersonal questions are geared towards identifying whether or not a job candidate has these important soft skills.
Employers are also looking for your areas of weakness. If you have trouble with personal conflicts, for instance, that's a signal that you cannot separate personal passions with work, a major issue in any workplace.
It's important to be able to set firm boundaries between your work and personal life.
Tips for Answering Interpersonal Questions
Prepare answers ahead of time. Review common interpersonal questions ahead of time, and practice your answers. It will help ensure that you have a number of thoughtful anecdotes ready to answer any interview questions.
You can also narrow down the list of questions you prepare for by first making a list of the most important interpersonal skills required for the job. Look back at the job listing and circle any interpersonal skills mentioned. Be sure to prepare an anecdote that proves you have each of the interpersonal skills needed for the job.
Use specific examples. When answering questions about your interpersonal skills, using concrete examples is important. Anyone can say they are great problem-solvers; but if you have an example of how you used out-of-the-box thinking to identify options and decide on an appropriate course of action, you will look far more credible.
Consider using the STAR technique to answer questions. It is a useful strategy for answering interview questions in which you should answer with an anecdote. First, explain the situation you were in (where were you working at the time?). Then, describe the specific task or problem you faced. Next, explain what action you took to solve the problem or complete the task. Finally, explain the results of your actions (did you achieve a success for yourself? Your team? Your company?).
Demonstrate your skills. Throughout the interview, you can also demonstrate your interpersonal skills in how you engage with the interviewer.
From your initial firm handshake and smile to the way you listen carefully to the interview questions, your body language and tone can help convey that you are a thoughtful, friendly person who gets along with others.
Common Interpersonal Questions and Best Answers
- Tell me about a time when you had to work with a coworker you did not like or trust. The key to this question is to not focus on the negative or blame your coworker. Instead, focus on being professional. Tell the employer that you recognize not all coworkers will be best friends, but it's necessary to be able to collaborate with everyone. Highlight how you set aside personal differences.
- Describe a conflict at work. Again, do not place blame on anyone. Highlight where the disagreement came from, what the issue was, and what your rationale was. Emphasize how you worked proactively to resolve the issue and what the final results were.
- If you have staff that reports to you, how would they describe you? Focus your answer on concrete examples, such as a time you gave your team autonomy or the freedom to come up with creative solutions.
- When you've started a new job, how did you build relationships? Employers want to see that you will be proactive about fitting into the company culture. Emphasize how you've volunteered for projects, joined employee clubs, or invited coworkers to lunch to learn more about their roles.
- How would your coworkers describe you? Instead of just listing three adjectives, such as "dedicated, passionate and creative," focus your answer on specific occasions. For instance, you could say, "My coworker Frank would say I have an eagle-eye attention to detail. He always talks about how he had created this 20-page technical report, thoroughly researched and reviewed by a dozen people. Right before it went to print, I took one more look at it, and I noticed a typo that would have been very embarrassing if it hadn't been caught.