How to Answer Interview Questions about Interpersonal SkillsPublished: 2022-09-17
If you’ve been invited to an interview, your application most likely convinced the recruiter or hiring manager that you have the basic skills, knowledge and attributes required to do the job. However, in the interview, you’ll now have to convince them that you’re not only a qualified candidate, but are the most qualified candidate. And in order to do this, you’re going to show that you possess both technical and interpersonal skills.
Since interview questions designed to assess candidates’ interpersonal skills are so common, you’ll want to make sure that you are prepared to deliver an effective and impactful response. So, in order to help you prepare for interview questions about interpersonal skills, we’ve compiled all the information you need in this article.
What are interpersonal interview questions?
Employers ask interpersonal interview questions in order to gauge whether candidates are able to work well with others. Interpersonal skills, which are also known as “employability skills,” or “soft skills,” are skills that enable an individual to build relationships, resolve conflict, collaborate, solve problems and effectively lead others.
For roles that involve managing people or working directly with customers, interpersonal skills are vital to be successful in the job. However, even if the role has less interaction with subordinates or customers, interpersonal skills are still important. Since you will most likely have to work with a manager and coworkers, interviewers will want to make sure that you can get along with others and contribute to a favorable work environment.
How to craft a response
In order to demonstrate to your prospective employer that you possess the interpersonal skills they’re looking for, preparing an effective response is key. Keep reading to learn five methods you can use to craft your response to any interpersonal interview question.
1. Prepare answers in advance
In order to effectively demonstrate your interpersonal skills during an interview, it’s key to prepare your answers in advance. After all, it can be difficult to craft responses while you’re in the hot seat during an interview. By not preparing your answers in advance, you risk getting flustered, or worse, responding in a way that you may later regret.
2. Understand the role and company values
Many interpersonal skills, such as communication, teamwork and conflict management, are universally sought after by most employers. However, depending on the specific role or company, some interpersonal skills may be more important than others. Therefore, it’s crucial to study the job description, company values and work culture to determine if there are certain skills you should emphasize during the interview.
3. Use the STAR method
The STAR method is the gold standard when it comes to effectively responding to interview questions. It ensures applicants answer in a way that is concise, relevant and impactful. Therefore, when it comes to questions about interpersonal skills, you should definitely employ the STAR method, which means you need to answer questions using the situation, task, action and result structure to get the best results.
4. Be positive
Employers look for candidates that have positive attitudes, don’t speak poorly about others, and have a growth mentality. Therefore, always make sure you are answering interview questions about interpersonal skills in a positive way that demonstrates you are a team player, have empathy and an optimistic outlook.
5. Demonstrate your skills
Sometimes the best way to convince a prospective employer that you have the interpersonal skills for the job is to show them, rather than tell them. For example, you may be using personal anecdotes to demonstrate your positive attitude. However, if you haven’t smiled once during the interview, you may not be very convincing. Therefore, showing that you are friendly, communicative and a good listener throughout the interview will really strengthen your responses.
Interpersonal interview questions and answers
Some common interview questions about interpersonal skills will revolve around your ability to build relationships, collaborate, and manage conflict. Below are five examples of interpersonal interview questions for which you’ll want to be prepared.
1. Tell me about a conflict you’ve had at work.
When working with others, conflict is part and parcel. Coworkers oftentimes have different approaches, misunderstandings and disagreements. Therefore, employers want to make sure that they hire someone who is adept at managing conflict.
They want to know that you will be an employee who doesn’t avoid conflict, but rather deals with it in a constructive and respectful way. Therefore, when responding to this question, make sure to not place blame, but stick to the facts, and demonstrate that you are understanding, civil, and that you learn from your mistakes.
In my previous role, a member of my team and I were tasked with holding a presentation at a department meeting. We allocated the areas we would each present on and decided that we would meet again in a week to ensure we were both aligned and on track.
When we met again, my coworker had not even started working on the presentation, so I ended up having to do his share of the work. After the presentation, I approached my coworker to clear up the situation to ensure it wouldn’t happen again and figure out a way to communicate better with each other going forward. We reached an agreement and the issue never happened again.
2. How would your former coworkers describe you?
When interviewing candidates, employers often ask how former coworkers, managers or your friends describe you in order to learn more about your personality and gauge your level of self-awareness. Therefore, it’s important to think beforehand about some of your strengths and personal attributes.
Since people are multifaceted and possess many different qualities, try to think of a few that are relevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a role in sales or customer service and you’re someone who is friendly and communicative, these are qualities that are relevant to the role and would be useful to mention.
I believe my coworkers would describe me as friendly, outgoing and innovative. When collaborating with coworkers, I always make an effort to ensure all voices in the group are heard in we are better able to come up with creative solutions.
For example, one time my team was tasked with coming up with a new idea for a marketing campaign. I took the lead on this project by ensuring everyone was able to contribute their ideas — either in brainstorming sessions or in a shared Google Doc. In the end, we were able to come up with an idea that led to one of the company’s most successful marketing campaigns.
3. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
Different jobs have differing levels of interaction with others. Some jobs, such as consulting, IT or entertainment, may include a high degree of teamwork and collaboration. However, jobs such as a graphic designer or copywriter include more independent work. Therefore, it’s important to consider how you prefer to work and to be honest with the interviewer.
Prior to the job interview, be sure to ascertain that the job does fit your preferred amount of social interaction. Then, during the interview, you can demonstrate your self-awareness in regard to which types of environments suit you best.
I’m someone who prefers a mix of both independent and group work. For example, when I’m doing work that requires a high level of focus, such as writing reports or creating slide decks, I prefer to work independently.
However, when I’m trying to solve a difficult problem that requires creativity and diverse perspectives, then I prefer group work. I find it really helpful to have a sounding board and to be able to discuss ideas with coworkers.
4. How would you describe good customer service?
Customer service is a key interpersonal skill for any job that includes direct interaction with customers. However, customer service is an important skill for jobs that aren’t customer-facing as well. This is because many of the skills required for good customer service are the same skills that enable better relationships with other stakeholders as well.
For example, clear communication, resourcefulness, patience, listening, empathy and understanding are all skills that describe good customer service, but also enable you to be a more effective and successful employee as well.
I believe that good customer service involves going the extra mile to ensure the customer is satisfied, feels heard, and feels like they matter.
For example, in the previous marketing agency that I worked for, one of our clients wanted to make changes to a campaign just a few hours before it was set to go live. Typically, we don’t make changes to campaigns so last minute, but I ended up working overtime to make those changes.
The client ended up being delighted and even sent an email to my manager praising my efforts. I would describe this as an example of good customer service.
5. How do you build relationships with stakeholders?
One type of interpersonal skill that you may get assessed on during an interview is stakeholder management. Stakeholders refer to anyone who has an interest in the work or activities of the organization. They can include customers, coworkers, management, vendors or industry partners. Since the term encompasses so many different types of roles, no matter what type of position you are applying for, you will most likely work with some stakeholders.
To answer the question of how you effectively build relationships with stakeholders, think back to how you developed some current or past professional relationships. Some examples include scheduling one-on-one interactions, using clear communication, or demonstrating your competency.
The way that I’ve built relationships with stakeholders in the past is through working to communicate clearly, show appreciation, and develop trust.
For example, in my previous role as Event Manager, I was responsible for building relationship with various venue managers. As the effectiveness of the working relationship was a key determinant of the success of the event, it was imperative that I was able to build good relationships with them.
One way I did this was through visiting the venues on multiple occasions to discuss the event in-person as opposed to via email or telephone. I felt like this personal touch went a long way in helping to develop a trusting professional relationship.
Since most jobs require working with others, interpersonal skills can be a key factor in success. Most employers are aware of the value of interpersonal skills, and because of this, they frequently assess them during the interview process. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to demonstrate that you have the interpersonal skills they are looking for. Remember to:
- Prepare in advance so you’re ready to give a thoughtful and impactful response during the interview.
- Use the STAR method to ensure your responses to interview questions are concise, structured and relevant.
- Be positive during the interview in order to demonstrate that you have an optimistic attitude and speak well of others.
Unlike technical skills, interpersonal skills can be developed in your daily life through interactions with others. Therefore, by continuously developing these skills, you’ll be in a better position to answer interpersonal interview questions, and be able to present yourself as a top candidate for the role.
Have you been asked any questions like these? What was your answer? Let us know in the comments!