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Few qualities contribute more to the cohesiveness of a team than strong communication skills. Hiring managers are eager to hire candidates with multiple abilities related to communication and examples of times they’ve utilized these skills.
Communication is an asset that can be useful regardless of field or position. It’s a soft skill that contributes to the effectiveness of any team.
Once you’ve landed an interview for a potential job, you can guarantee that they’ll be asking at least a couple of questions about your communication skills in previous positions. With a little bit of preparation into common communication interview questions, you can impress an employer with your professional display and relevant answers.
A hiring manager enters an interview looking for answers about various aspects of your work ethic, history, and personality. The interview itself is a challenge in your ability to communicate effectively. When asking a candidate any kind of question, their answers depict their communications strengths.
Examples of communication strengths that can be displayed through answering interview questions include:
Your display of body language
How detailed and focused your answers are
If you’re actively listening
How accurately your answers reflect the question asked
Friendliness and rapport building
When an interviewer is asking questions specifically about your communication style or skills, they may be looking for various qualities in your answer. Firstly, they’re concerned with previous work experience that demonstrates communication skills. Using an example of a time you displayed strong communication skills gives the interviewer something tangible to reference.
Secondly, the interviewer will also be paying attention to the quality of the answer itself. How well do you get your message across, and does this accurately respond to the original question asked?
There are some interview questions that hiring managers will use often because of how well they explain an applicant’s communication skills. Get yourself familiar with some of these questions (and their ideal answers) and show up prepared with winning responses.
This is a classic interview opening question that can frustrate a lot of applicants. It’s such an open-ended question that it can seem impossible to narrow down your answer.
Interviewers will open with this question to assess how concise you can be and what relevant qualities about yourself you will bring to the table. It’s a good transition to learning more about you and negating the awkward interview tension.
How To Answer: This question gives you an excellent opportunity to show the interviewer your succinct presentation skills. In order to stay on topic when it coming to telling more about yourself, try to stick to your professional self. Base your answer around where you are now, your previous accomplishments, and where you’re hoping to go in your career.
Be realistic and honest. If you paint a picture of yourself as an expert and cannot deliver on this promise, it’ll end up in a stressful situation for both employee and employer.
It could be beneficial to rapport building to give the hiring manager a more personal insight into who you are. This could include any appropriate information you feel is relevant and what makes you who you are. It can be helpful for an interviewer to get a glimpse into your life outside the office, however, keep the personal information brief.
My name is Tim. I’m originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’m a recent college graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. I received a Bachelors’s in Public Relations with a minor in Communications. I currently intern at a start-up media company called Lifestyle Management. I’m hoping to attain a position where I can utilize my current skills on a marketing team, and gain more professional experience.”
This is a direct question involving an applicant’s interpersonal skills. While an interviewer will be paying attention to the details of what you say, they’ll also be taking note of how you answer the question.
How To Answer: Your answer to this question should be elaborate and accurate to your work style. The interviewer isn’t looking for a simple yes or no. They want examples and reasoning for your response.
Remember, depending on the position it can be very valuable to have independence abilities. Other positions may depend on your capacity to work well with other people. Consider your potential position, and determine what answer would be most beneficial for it.
For example, a freelance social media manager may want to highlight their strengths in working without the structure of a team in addition to their coordination abilities.
In contrast, an office assistant should definitely focus on their people skills since it’s more of a team-building position.
Yes, I think I work very effectively on a team. I’ve been working as a secretary for a dental office with a team of 8 other administrative staff for the past 3 years. I enjoy working with other people, as well as learning more from them.
Interviewers ask what your weaknesses are to have a barometer for how self-aware you are and to measure your honesty. It can seem like a trick question to get into your shortcomings, but really, you can use this question to exhibit your strengths because the fact is that everyone has some weaknesses. The ability to understand them and address them is valuable to employers.
How To Answer: When answering this question, be sure not to use the cop-out of claiming perfection. Nobody is perfect, and a hiring manager knows this. You should name at least one weakness, but it shouldn’t be detrimental to the role.
Potential weaknesses can be:
Something that was difficult for you in the past but has since been remedied
A weakness that’s unrelated to the job responsibilities
A quality that could be considered a weakness that you can spin as a positive
Some people may consider my introverted personality to be a weakness in a business environment where teamwork is crucial. However, I believe that I use this quality as an asset to my performance. It makes me a more independent employee who sees through tasks to the finish.
In addition to being able to articulate your weaknesses well, an interviewer will likely want to know how you view your accomplishments. It shows what your definition of success is and if it aligns with their company policy. Communicating your accomplishments in an accurate and humble way demonstrates that you can speak to your strengths with a realistic perspective.
How To Answer: There’s probably a lot of accomplishments you’ve collected throughout your life. For an interview setting, you should stick to an answer that displays a strength that’s relevant to the particular role you’re applying for.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be directly work-related, but it should showcase a skill that could be useful in the role you’re applying for. For example, if you climbed Mt. Everest and feel like it’s your greatest accomplishment, that could be considered relevant because it shows dedication, persistence, and drive.
The greatest accomplishment of my career so far was working with a motivated team to conduct groundbreaking experimentation into childhood ADHD. It involved two years of screening, research, directing, and analysis. I consider this my greatest accomplishment because it addressed a topic that was important to me. It was an honor to work with such an impressive team and brought enormous value to my career.
After answering a bunch of decently straightforward questions, the hiring manager might hit you with the doozy of “what motivates you?”. This is another test of your skills in answering an expansive question that can be easy to get off track with. On the spot, this question can definitely catch an applicant off-guard. With some preparation, your answer will impress the interviewer.
How To Answer: Like any other question in an interview, you should answer this one honestly, but without being overly forthcoming. This means that you should provide an answer for your professional and general motivations, but steer clear of answers that can hurt your chances of landing the job. Sometimes being too honest can talk you right out of a job offer.
Examples of motivations to avoid answering with include:
Needing a job
Your parents told you to finally move out of your teenage bedroom
Examples of motivations that often impress interviewers include:
You thrive in a fast-paced environment
You value putting forth exceptional work
Your passion for a particular field of study
Your goal to be a part of a growing industry
I was first motivated to pursue veterinary sciences when my childhood dog needed surgery. The dedication and care of the veterinary staff amazed me. It is this initial love of animals that continues to motivate me towards providing exceptional veterinary care today.
Being asked to recall a time you had a conflict with a previous co-worker or employer can surprise many interviewees. Hiring managers propose this question to assess your interpersonal skills, as well as how professionally you can communicate a situation of disagreement.
How To Answer: It’s best to handle this question with a positive outlook. While conflict might inherently sound negative, it can lead to innovation and coordination. You should tell the interviewer about a time that this was the outcome, rather than something more negative.
The interviewer is looking to get an answer to what the conflict was and how you handled it. Make sure that your answer covers both of these facets of the question.
When I was working on my first professional photography team, I had a co-worker who was continually acting unprofessional on shoots. I thought that it was impacting the customer’s experience. In this situation, I decided to talk to my co-worker directly. We were both associates with the same level of seniority, so, I thought it best to be respectfully straightforward. Luckily, my co-worker was very understanding and grateful for my constructive input and their performance improved dramatically.
Employers want to hire people who remain professional, even after they stop working for a company. This question serves to estimate an applicant’s ability to do that. It’s not that the interviewer has ulterior motives in asking this question, rather, it’s a powerful tool to assess how a candidate will communicate a difficult situation like leaving a former job.
Communicating a professional answer to this tricky question can make the hiring manager more confident in your proficiency in discussing complicated subjects.
How To Answer: An interview is definitely not the place or time to start trashing your past job, and this question is not an invitation to do so. In fact, it’s almost exactly the opposite.
Even if you absolutely hated your former position, saying so won’t gain you any points with the interviewer. Especially since your former employee isn’t there to tell their side of the story (unless they’re contacted for a reference later). An applicant who talks badly on their former supervisors or company will likely leave the interviewer thinking that you’d just as easily do it with them.
Try to explain your parting from your previous organization in as positive a light as possible without downright lying. Discuss any extenuating circumstances if there were any. It can also be beneficial to make note of the skills you gained there.
I had a very amicable split from my last job where I learned a lot about administrative work. I was ready to pursue a position with more management responsibility, however, these roles were already filled at my former company. This lead me to seek new opportunities.
Why Are You The Best Person for This Position?
This question gives you the chance to highlight your skills and potential value that you would bring to the role. Interviewers want to know why you consider yourself qualified to fulfill the position. Your answer should exude confidence while avoiding being too full of yourself.
How To Answer: Your answer to this question should encapsulate your employee profile. Talk about what lead you to apply based on your work history. Touch on specific responsibilities the job will entail and requirements the original job posting made note of. Go into detail about how you fit what they were looking for and how you think you can be an asset to the organization.
Interviewers will probably respond negatively to an answer that brags about how great you are without any evidence to back it up. Even if you are that amazing, being humble about it is likely to impress more. When applicable, use examples of accomplishments you’ve made in a past position, and how you think it’ll be useful for this role.
When I came across your job posting, I noticed that you were looking for an applicant who was highly creative and dependable with at least three years of experience in graphic design. It stood out to me because it sounds like it would fit me perfectly. I have worked as a graphic designer for the past five years. In that time, I helped create revolutionary campaigns for several major clients who saw growth as high as 18%. I believe that my former experience and creative skills would make me an excellent candidate for this position.
Answering this crucial question well can launch you from being an applicant to getting hired. Employers want to know what it is that drew you to apply for their organization because it gives them insight into how familiar you are. It also allows them to see how well you can communicate your motivations.
An interviewer will know a phony answer when they hear one so try to be as genuine about your interest as possible.
How To Answer: While preparing for interviews, it can be helpful to do a little research into the company’s background and culture. Include parts about the organization’s framework that you appreciate and would like to experience in a work environment.
You should also be candid about how you hope working in this position will advance or strengthen your career and work performance.
At the end of the day, you know what attracted you to apply at this company and for this position. Harness those motivations and express them sincerely.
I’ve been a college mathematics professor at the same private university for the past eight years. While this is an incredible organization and I valued my time there, I’m looking to bring my teaching skills to a public university. I was especially interested in the mathematics position at John Jay College of Criminal Justice because I’d like to work with students focused on a justice path. I would like to teach in a work environment that appreciates varying opinions, such as your organization.
Towards the end of an interviewer, the hiring manager will most likely ask you if you have any questions for them. Many applicants fall directly into the trap of giving them a resounding no and thanking them for their time. Not having any questions prepared comes off as lacking enthusiasm.
How To Answer: This question isn’t simply about being clear on everything an interviewer has discussed about the position. Which is why answering with ‘no’ can actually hurt your performance. Interviewers are looking for curiosity and enthusiasm, and that means having a few questions of your own.
You should come prepared with questions in mind based on research about the organization and specifics of the position.
Examples of Strong Questions You Can Ask Are:
“How is the day usually paced?”
“Is there any flexibility in the schedule?”
“How does your organization handle performance reviews?”
“Can you tell me a little bit about the company’s culture?”
“What’s the management style?”
“Do you think I’m missing any qualifications to adequately perform in this position?
When looking into your marketing company, it seems that your organization strongly values teamwork and cooperation. Are there any other aspects of company culture you could tell me about?
Be Honest and Realistic about Your Abilities. Stretching the truth in an interview can have detrimental effects on your success. An experienced interviewer will likely spot a blatant lie or exaggeration of skills.
With that being said, try not to divulge any information that could result in them eliminating you as a candidate for the position.
Be Strategic with Your Answers. The hiring manager set up an interview with you to assess your skills, communication and otherwise. This isn’t to say that they’re being sneaky in their questioning, but rather, common interview questions are strategic for determining eligibility.
You should utilize a similar strategy in your answers to present yourself as the best possible candidate for the position.
Prepare Ahead of Time. While you won’t know exactly what questions an interviewer is going to ask you, preparation can only help you. It’s useful to have a general idea of your answers to common questions.
Do a fair amount of research into the company you’re interviewing with and the best interview practices without psyching yourself out.
Don’t Worry Too Much. Preparing and performing for an interview can be stressful. Despite this, try not to worry excessively. One of the factors that make for a great interview is being comfortable and confident.
If you’re super concerned about your interview, remember that there’s always more positions out there and that an interview is just a discussion. The world does not depend on the outcome of this interview, and there will be more regardless of if you’re hired for this position.
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