Let’s be honest: A skilled recruiter or HR manager does not need to ask you any specific questions about your communication skills.

Job interview is a dialogue. An experienced interviewer will simply observe the way you talk and gesticulate. They will observe whether you talk to the point, listen carefully, whether you can express your message clearly, and also how you react to questions that can make one uncomfortable.

If they use many behavioral questions in the interview, and let you talk, they will be able to accurately assess your listening skills, interpersonal skills, and even such things like empathy and respect to fellow human beings.

 

Beginners will ask you questions about your communication skills

You will not necessarily interview with an expert. An HR Generalist, or a fresh graduate from HR, may lead your interview (especially the first round of interviews).

What is more, like with any other job in the world, you have good employees, average employees, and you have people who do not know what they are doing, and should not get the job at first place.

You never know who you will interview with. I personally experienced cases when the hiring managers simply downloaded the list of most common interview questions, and used it in the interviews, without knowing why, without any specific goal they followed with each question.

Summarized and underlined, you may get some questions that refer to your communication skills, and now I will show you how to answer each one. Let’s go!

People are shaking hands at a start of an interview

Do you work well with other people?

Tell them that you enjoy working with others, becasue you are genuinely interested in people, and listen carefully to the things they have to say.

You can refer to your last job, and the excellent relationship you had with some colleagues (even in your personal life), to give them a proof that you know how to work with people, and that they enjoy your company in the office.

 

How do you feel about talking to a stranger (making a cold call)?

Say that you feel comfortable, that you know how to start such a talk. You can also point to non-verbal communication, and the enthusiasm you try to convey on your communication partner.

You can say that you understand the desires and needs of other human being, and are always ready to give honest compliment, to recognize their achievements, or to quickly find something the two of you have in common, and build connection.

 

Describe a conflict you had with one of your former colleagues.

Try to pick a situation that had a happy ending. Or you can make up one, if you can’t remember a conflict that you eventually managed to resolve.

You can talk about anything–conflict with your supervisor, conflict with a colleague about the way the work should be done, disobedience of one of your subordinates, etc. The key is to speak in a calm voice, and show the interviewers that you did your very best to solve the conflict in a way that it won’t destroy the bridges between you and the other conflict party.

 

How would you persuade someone to see things your way at work?

You can say that first and foremost you would try to understand their point of view, and why they saw things differently.

Once you understood it, you would explain (in a language they understand, and keeping on your mind the reasons why they had a different opinion) your perspective, and what it means for them.

You can add that you would explain things in a calm and cheerful manner, and also that it might take some time until they agreed with you (or it might never happen).

Two men change messages instead of talking to each other

Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?

Show that you do not mind going above and beyond for other people. You can narrate a situation when you prepared a presentation, or personally demonstrated the way things should be done, when your colleague didn’t understand you properly.

Or you can talk about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone and simplified your language considerably, to ensure that the person would understand. Show them that you do not have one way of explaining only, and can adjust your style of communication to the person you speak with.

 

What would you do if you misunderstood an important communication on the job?

You can start with saying that it is unlikely to happen, since you always listen carefully to your colleagues, and double-check with them to ensure that you understood right–if the communication wasn’t 100% clear.

If it happened, however, you would admit making a mistake, and try to learn from it. Interviewers are interested mostly in your attitude. Show the right one in an interview…

 

How would you convey an unpleasant message to your colleague (for example that they were relocated or laid off)?

Try to show empathy in your answer. You can say that you would choose an appropriate moment, and that you would show emotional support to the colleague.

You can also say that you would prepare for the talk in advance, to be able to answer all questions they might have (mostly about next steps, or the reasons why the company decided so).

You can also emphasize that you are not afraid to lead this talk, and that the employer can count on your excellent communication skills.

 

There is a tension between you and your boss. You talk very little to each other. What will you do?

Some people may think that it is responsibility of their superior to do something about the problem, but this isn’t the right attitude you should present in an interview.

Express your opinion that feedback is crucial, and that situation has to be addressed immediately. You can say that you will try to overcome the tension, and break the ice. If it doesn’t work, you will try another time, perhaps with another strategy. And if even that didn’t work, you would ask someone from the management to help you address the situation.

 

Final Thoughts

  • A skilled HR professional can assess your communication skills without inquiring about them.
  • You may still get some questions in your interview, either because your interviewer isn’t skilled enough to get a good grasp of your skills without these questions, or becasue they ask them primarily for other reasons (to understand your attitude to various situation in the workplace), and the information you give about your communication skills is considered secondary.
  • Don’t forget on your non-verbal communication. How you say things in an interview is sometimes more important than what you say…

 

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Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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