Interview Questions About Your Skills and Abilities

Businessman and businesswoman working on project
••• Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

To ace your next interview, you’ll need to prepare answers to several thought-provoking questions concerning your skills and abilities. To convince the interviewer that you are the best fit for the role, you’ll also need a solid strategy in place.

Over the course of the interview, the interviewer will be paying close attention to the following things:

  1. Your level of self-awareness (i.e., connecting your past actions and behaviors to successful results)
  2. Your instincts or the personality traits that come naturally to you (e.g., dedication, teamwork, empathy, etc.)

What to Focus on in Your Response

Before reviewing the questions you’re likely to be asked, write down all your hard skills (e.g., web design, accounting, typing) and soft skills (e.g., problem-solving, creativity, communication). Of that list, select up to five that you can confidently discuss in detail and apply to the specific role. Take it a step further by choosing a brief, but memorable, story that showcases your strengths.

Make sure you research both the job description and the organization ahead of time. You'll have a considerable advantage over other candidates if your answers show a complete understanding of the role. Consider focusing on the following soft skills that employers look for:

  • Communication is at the core of every organization. Therefore, employers are inclined to hire candidates with strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Today’s diverse workplace demands the ability to effectively communicate with people regardless of their characteristics (race, gender, age, experience, etc.).
  • Collaborative individuals are team-focused. When working in groups, they openly share their ideas, actively listening to and asking their peers questions to move toward the overall objective.
  • Employees with a positive attitude are optimistic, enthusiastic and are perceived as being honest. They see setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow and are generally well-liked by everyone.
  • Efficient problem solvers tend to climb the ladder faster than most. In times of conflict, they identify the best solution – staying true to the organization’s vision – and swiftly implement it so as to curtail adverse outcomes.
  • A fast learner can readily and enthusiastically synthesize new tasks. They acclimate themselves to new work environments and change more seamlessly than most.
  • A flexible employee is open to taking on a range of tasks and offering their help to peers, even if the scope of work is outside of their comfort zone.

Interview Questions About Your Abilities

  • More job interview questions about your abilities - Best Answers

Soft Skills Interview Questions

  • Describe your experience dealing with the poor performance of colleagues.
  • Have you worked with a team that didn't work well together or didn't get along? How did you overcome the roadblocks?
  • Tell me about a time you reversed a negative situation and how you accomplished that.
  • What tries your patience when dealing with coworkers?
  • Describe how you develop relationships with new colleagues.
  • Tell me how you changed someone's opinion.

Preparing Psychologically for Your Interview

In addition to role-playing how you would answer the questions above (either to yourself in a mirror or to a friend willing to serve as your “interviewer”), there are steps you can take to ensure that you enter the interview room with enthusiasm and confidence.

On the day of the interview, try to set aside enough time from your normal daily activities that you can spend the hour or two before your meeting concentrating on your preparation. Make sure you have a good meal beforehand (avoiding caffeine if it makes you jumpy). Dress carefully in appropriate professional attire, and give yourself extra time to travel to the interview so that, in the event of traffic delays, you’ll still make it there ahead of time.

Before you enter the building, reread your resume and cover letter, remembering that they were good enough to land you an interview. Mentally marshal a few of the most important talking points you hope to mention during your discussion – things like your achievements, why you are interested in this particular company, or how you envision you would be able to contribute within your new role.

Finally, remind yourself that you are interviewing the company representatives as much as they are interviewing you – this is your best opportunity to sense if these are people you could work with and to see whether the job is as good a fit as it looks on paper. This will allow you to mentally “own” the interviewing process, providing you with the positive energy that will ensure you make a great impression on the hiring committee.