30 Empathy-Related Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)
Updated March 10, 2023
Empathy is an important skill for the workplace because it allows you to effectively care for your coworkers and build relationships. Hiring managers may ask questions regarding your ability to empathize to learn more about how you connect with your colleagues and clients. If you're interviewing for a new position, learning more about empathetic interview questions and how to answer them can be beneficial.
In this article, we explain why empathy is important in the workplace, list 28 empathy-related interview questions and two provide sample answers you can use as inspiration when preparing for your next interview.
Why is empathy important in the workplace?
When you can understand another person's experiences and feelings, that's empathy. Having a sense of empathy can help you strengthen relationships and connect with others. Empathy can help you develop productive conversations and better understand how your actions impact others.
Empathy is also important in the workplace because it:
Enhances communication: Empathy can improve communication by allowing you to adapt your style of discourse to the person you're speaking with. For example, you can use empathy to change your tone and way of speaking, depending on if you're giving a presentation to a manager or chatting with a colleague.
Boosts interview performance: When interviewing for a new position, empathy can help you understand and respond to the hiring manager's needs. For example, you may focus on easing frustration by making the process simple or alleviating nervousness by being confident and showing how you're a suitable candidate for the position.
Strengthens relationships: When you understand the needs and feelings of your colleagues, you can help them navigate through issues and find compromises. Empathy helps you understand your colleagues' backgrounds, gain trust and build rapport.
Improves customer service: Having developed empathy can help you expect customer needs and emotions and respond in a positive way. For example, if you sense a customer is frustrated, you may listen to what they have to say and respond with a soothing voice to help them solve their problem and change their perspective.
Read more: Why Empathy in the Workplace Is Important
28 interview questions regarding empathy
Here are 28 empathy-related interview questions hiring managers may ask:
What does empathy mean to you?
When is it most important to use empathy?
Who inspires you most?
What is the most important thing about using empathy in the workplace?
How would you describe the relationship between empathy and leadership?
How would you describe your relationships with previous colleagues?
Tell me about how well you work with a group.
How would you describe the relationship between empathy and collaboration?
Do you consider yourself to be an empathetic person?
What's your first reaction when someone asks you for help?
Describe your reaction to constructive criticism.
What do you think your last supervisor thinks of you?
Describe a time when you had to deliver challenging news to someone.
What is your process for delivering negative news versus positive news?
Tell me about the last time you became upset at work. How did you react?
What's your process for resolving disagreements at work?
What emotion do you feel most in the workplace?
Is there an emotion you notice right away from your colleagues?
How would you describe the relationship between empathy and problem-solving?
What would you say you fear professionally, and how do you overcome that?
Would you describe yourself as a team player?
Would others describe you as a team player?
Can you tell me why you decided to leave your previous job?
Tell me about a time you had a positive impact on someone.
What is your proudest professional moment?
Would you share your most embarrassing moment and how you overcame it?
What is something you regret and how did you overcome it?
Do you think people can learn to use empathy?
2 sample answers to empathetic interview questions
Here are two sample answers to empathetic interview questions hiring managers may ask:
1. Can you tell me about a time you used empathy to solve a problem?
The hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about how you combine empathy and problem-solving. You can use empathy to learn more about others and find intuitive ways to solve problems. To answer this question, focus on a specific instance in which using empathy helped you resolve an issue. Highlight both your empathy and problem-solving by focusing on how others felt during the situation and the critical thinking you did to find a solution that worked for everyone.
Example: "Our sales team always paired up before going out to make calls to clients. One day, I was waiting for my partner to arrive at the office so we could go out and start making out sales calls. She was half an hour late and showed up in a negative mood. I wanted to respond with anger at her delaying us and potentially hindering our performance, but when I reacted with empathy, I could see she was upset.
"After asking her what was wrong, I learned she had lost a loved one that morning and her car hadn't started, so she had to call a cab to get into work. Compared to her morning, waiting half an hour was nothing. I brought her a coffee to cheer her up before we went out on our sales calls and we ended up having the best performance of the sales teams."
2. How would you say empathy relates to success in this role?
To measure your empathy skills and how you prioritize them, an interviewer may ask this question. It can help them learn more about how you relate empathy to your position. In some roles, like health care and customer service, empathy can be important for client-facing functions. To answer this question, focus on specific tasks for the role you want that can benefit from empathy. For example, a health care provider may benefit from using empathy to build a better relationship with their patients, as this may make care simpler and potentially improve patient health.
Example: "As a nurse, I believe empathy is incredibly important for being successful. It's a skill I can use to connect with my patients and learn more about their feelings, needs and wants. For example, I cared for a resident who had gone through a flood and lost some family members. She felt most safe with a flashlight by her bedside because of it.
"At first, the other staff and I found it tiresome to make sure she had her flashlight. Often, she'd ask for it during meals or in the middle of care routines when it was least convenient to fetch it. After learning her story and understanding what it must have felt like to go through it, we all made sure she had it whenever she needed it to feel safe and comfortable. It became second nature for us, made her happier and enhanced our ability to care for her well."
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