When cramming for your next job interview, what have you prepared so far? Questions such as about your experience, ability or salary etc will surely appear and we should’ve known how to deal with them. So how about interpersonal skills interview questions? What are they really and how should we answer each question in the best way?

What are interpersonal skills interview questions?

Interpersonal skills interview questions can also be understood as people skills or behavioral questions. They are questions about how you interact with others

As we all know, interpersonal skill is a very important quality that recruiters look for in employees, especially for jobs which require teamwork. People with good interpersonal skills can work well with other colleagues. They can also communicate effectively and easily and make the working environment more friendly.

Therefore, anyone who is going to a job interview had better think ahead about how you would answer these potentially sensitive and hard questions. Normally, at least one or two interpersonal skills interview questions would be asked. Here are some common questions:

– Describe a conflict at work?
– How do you build relationships?
– How would your staff describe you?
– What do people most criticize you? Are their concerns valid?
– Can you tell us why you would be a good team player?

– How would your friends/family/last boss/ex-colleagues describe you?
– Tell me about your character.
– How would you rate your effectiveness in relating to others?
– What causes you to be impatient with others?

interpersonal skills interview questions
Interpersonal skills are important soft skills besides other factors (Photo from Urban Wisdom Learning)

Notes to take

Prepare before entering the interview room

Review common interpersonal questions ahead of time. It’s always better when you practice your answers for every kind of question beforehand, especially with interpersonal skills interview questions – which are harder and less common. Since there are quite many questions in this matter, you musn’t prepare all answers for questions listed above. Here’s what you should do:

  • Write a list of the most important interpersonal skills required for the job you are applying by looking back at the job description and circle any interpersonal skills mentioned.
  • List interpersonal skills you have.
  • Prepare an anecdote that proves you have the skills needed for the job.

Use specific examples

Interviewers will be more impressed when you giving them detailed, concrete examples. Everyone can say they are great problem-solvers, but how to prove it? Let tell a real story about how you used out-of-the-box thinking to identify solutions and overcome a hard challenge. This will make you become much more credible.

Remember to tell the story in a good way, not too long and not too short. The first sentence is about explaining the situation you were in (where were you working at the time?). Then describe the or problem you had to face. Next, explain what action you took to complete the task. And finally, show them the results of your actions.

Remember to demonstrate your skills

To show the recruiters that you have strong interpersonal skills, answering the question smoothly is not enough.  Your interpersonal skills can be shown anytime throughout the interview in how you engage with the interviewer. For example, it can be your initial firm handshake and friendly smile or the way you listen carefully and respectfully to the questions. Our body language and tone tell so much about ourselves if we are a thoughtful, friendly person who gets along with others.

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Sample questions & answers

Describe a conflict at work?

The key to answer it is not to focus on the negative or blame anyone. What’s really important is emphasizing how you worked proactively to resolve to make things better.

Answer example

Last year, my manager asked me to develop a marketing plan with a deadline of two weeks. However, I immediately knew that two weeks was not going to be realistic. When I informed my boss about that, she told me to get it to her as soon as possible without giving an exact time. Two weeks later, my boss requested the plan to present at a board meeting the next day. Although it was unreasonable, I tried my best to stay calm instead of arguing with her. I changed the focus to the strategy we had come up with. Base on things we have prepared in the last 2 weeks, my boss and I worked hard that night to make a detailed marketing strategy outline for the meeting. The strategies I had developed were considered genius by our company’s directors. My boss later apologized for blowing up at me.

Video example

Keyword to search: “a time you had a conflict”

How did you build relationships?

Every employers want to make sure their new employee will be proactive about fitting into the company culture. Therefore, you should emphasize how you take the initiative to communicate, join employee clubs or invite your colleagues to lunch or go out to build good relationships.

Answer example:
I always know that some relationships come quickly and some must take time to nurture. When starting a new job, to make friends with my new coworkers, even they are my boss or teammate or anyone in the same company, all I do is be my true self and let my personality, integrity, and reliability speak for itself. Luckily, I consider myself a friendly person and l really like making new friends, so building relationships has never been a hard task for me.

Keyword to search: “build relationships”

How would your staff describe you?

This question is another way of asking “Tell me about yourself.” The difference is when you are asked to describe yourself, you may only give them a depiction of the person you want the potential new employers to see. You will be held more accountable when being described from other people’s points of view. Instead of just listing adjectives such as “dedicated, passionate and creative,” you should focus your answer on specific occasions.

Answer example

As I know, my ex-coworkers would say I speak professionally and have an eagle-eye attention to detail but still make others feel at ease with a good sense of humor. I’ve always been the one who diffuse tense conversations at work and I also know how to avoid conflict by steering the mood and tone with positive and calm speech. Besides, they also think that I’m reliable and adaptable. There were many times when we have to face last-minute tasks or changes, I tried to do my very best and responded promptly.

Video example

Keyword to search: “tell me about yourself”, “your character”

What do people most criticize you?

This isn’t an easy question and makes many of us unwilling to answer. You don’t want to show your weakness but also don’t want to imply that you’re perfect. Remember that this question is also a way to judge your composure and confidence. There’re 2 options for you: mention weakness which is not specifically related to the job or mention a “weakness” that might actually be considered a strength on the new job. For example, being critical can be understood as you have a keen attention to detail.

Answer example:

My last supervisor told me that I am sometimes too much of a perfectionist. I expect high standards of work from myself. Therefore, I am trying to improve and hope in the future my analysis and suggestions will be more supportive and helpful rather than critical.

– One of the things I had been criticized about is I take things too seriously. I must admit I am often more aware of dangers than other people. However, I still think that being diligent is a must at work. I don’t mind a joke now and then, but I am more interested in the job getting done in the best way.

Keyword to search: criticize about you

Useful words & phrases

Here’re a list of interpersonal skills commonly required in many jobs:

About communication

  • Nonverbal communication
  • Verbal communication
  • Public speaking

There’s rarely job which let you work alone and never communicate to anyone even if it’s through oral or written communication. Some jobs/positions even require public speaking skills such as a manager.

About conflict Management

  • Conflict resolution
  • Constructive criticism
  • Counselling
  • Mediating
  • Problem-solving

About empathy

  • Caring
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Respect
  • Sensitivity
  • Sympathy
  • Mentoring
  • Persuasive
  • Listening

This is an important skill which helps you get along with other people in the workplace, especially needed if you are on supervisor level.

Other positive attitudes

  • Developing rapport
  • Friendly
  • Humor
  • Networking
  • Social
  • Collaboration
  • Group facilitating

Every organization should be in a positive and friendly environment, thus people would work comfortably. It’s a bonus point if you can show that you are willing to develop some sort of a positive rapport with your colleagues when answering interpersonal skills interview questions.

Even if you have so many experience or high-level degrees, you can still be passed out of your dream job if the interviewers feel that you don’t have good people skills and good attitude. Therefore, don’t forget to practice interpersonal skills interview questions as early as possible to make sure you can show them you are a candidate who can work collaboratively.

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