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Communication skills are essential to nearly every type of job. With the right interview questions, potential employers can determine whether a candidate can communicate properly in several situations and styles. Being able to communicate can ensure that both the new employee is effective in their position as well as that they can positively impact their workplace in general.
In this article, we discuss what communication skills interview questions are, the types of positions that typically ask these questions and list a few effective communication interview questions with examples of how to answer them.
Common communication skills interviewers look for
Communication skills interview questions are questions that are asked during a job interview to measure and test a person's ability to communicate in various settings and communication styles. These types of questions are especially important when interviewing candidates for a position that will function as part of a team for a communications-related role.
Asking communication skills interview questions allows interviewers to determine if someone has basic language comprehension, can communicate both verbally and nonverbally and can communicate with different people in different situations (e.g. in meetings, via email).
Common communication skills interviewers look for in potential candidates include:
- Nonverbal communication skills
- Verbal communication skills
- Listening skills
Why interviewers test communication skills
Clear communication is an essential component in a productive and healthy work environment. Employees with great communication skills can improve not only their company contributions but also their overall job satisfaction. Additional benefits of interviewers testing for communication skills before hiring someone include that they can:
- Gauge a person's ability to make decisions and communicate those decisions to others
- Determine if a candidate will be able to effectively handle unsatisfied customers in an empathetic manner
- See if a potential employee will be able to successfully represent your brand and positively spread awareness of your brand
- Determine if someone will be able to work well within a team
Putting the effort into testing for communication skills during the interview process can help a company save time and money as well as potentially reduce workplace turnover and employee dissatisfaction.
Job positions that test for communication skills
The following are a few of the many job positions that typically test a candidate's communications skills during the interview process:
Legal secretaries often handle a lawyer's clients, communicate information related to cases and participate in other duties that require strong communication skills.
Administrative assistants are responsible for several communication-related tasks, including communicating via email and phone, taking notes during meetings, making presentations and answering questions.
HR employees are often responsible for managing employee relations and being the liaison between upper management and employees within a company. Being able to effectively communicate with all levels of employees as well as address disputes and maintain employee morale is essential for individuals in this position.
Greeting visitors, overseeing how an office is run and other common duties of a receptionist all require good communication skills. Without proper communication, office tasks and other important reception-related tasks can be overlooked or miscommunicated and result in an office environment that is not efficient or productive.
These professionals are responsible for working directly with customers to understand their needs and address and solve any customer-related problems. Customer service representatives must be able to effectively understand what a customer needs and communicate these needs to ensure they are properly handled.
5 communication skills interview questions and how they reveal a person's ability to communicate
The following questions can help determine someone's communication skills during an interview:
1. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.
This behavioral question allows interviewers to gain insight into what a potential employee considers an accomplishment and how they went about achieving it. The answer given is often directly related to the job the person is applying for and will likely include personal information that can help a hiring manager get to know the candidate better.
Example: "I volunteer at a local homeless shelter as the communications and event coordinator. This past year, I worked with several donors to raise more than $10,000 to put into the homeless shelter to improve the living environment and food available. I hope that these contributions to the shelter will help the homeless individuals who use the shelter have a better opportunity to find comfort and hope and encourage them to work toward finding long-term jobs and getting back on their feet."
2. Describe a time when you faced conflict and how you addressed it.
This type of question allows interviewers to get a sense of how a candidate handles conflict and works under pressure. The answer a candidate gives will often reveal their ability to communicate in a way that is focused on problem-solving.
Example: "I was working with a coworker who on at least three occasions failed to meet deadlines that negatively impacted our team's ability to complete a project on time. After meeting with this coworker, we determined the cause of their inability to complete projects on time and determined a solution that improved the coworker's workflow and benefited the team as a whole."
3. Do you work well with other people?
This question is important because it gives an idea of whether a candidate is capable of working in teams and alongside others. Working with others requires strong communication skills, so individuals who enjoy working with others often have the ability to effectively communicate.
Example: "My ability to effectively communicate has played a large role in my success as a social media manager. Regularly working with other team members and listening to the employees I oversee has allowed me to continuously motivate my team and improve overall performance. Through regular communication and a dedication to ensuring employees are happy and understand their roles, our entire social media team has improved its productivity."
4. How would you describe yourself?
This question gives the candidate a chance to illustrate their ability to effectively function within a particular position as well as their own understanding of their ability to communicate.
Example: "I would describe myself as a great team player who is committed to adding value to the workplace through effective communication and listening skills. My work experience has equipped me with the ability to not only lead but also to listen in a way that ensures I am on the same page as my team and that my employees feel heard and understood. I am a dedicated manager who is passionate about helping my colleagues and employees achieve their goals and be as productive and happy within the workplace as possible."
5. Why are you a good fit for this position?
This question is a great way to gauge a candidate's ability to convey their work-related skills as well as their own opinion of what they feel is important for the job they are applying for. It also allows interviewers to get an idea of a person's confidence level and whether their confidence is more boastful or helpful.
Example: "I feel that I am a good fit for this position because I am confident that I will hit the ground running and provide immediate results for your company. In my previous job, I was able to increase the sales in my department by 40% within the first 90 days of my employment, and I believe that I can provide similar results for this organization. My commitment to regular and effective communication with both clients and staff as well as my dedication to accomplishing goals makes me a great candidate for this job."