When you go for a job interview, it’s important to bring an up-to-date resume that clearly shows how your career history has given you the skills your potential new employer requires.
However, it’s equally important to show you have the interpersonal skills that will make you a valuable new employee, and these kinds of skills are not always easy to list on a resume.
Understanding What Employers Are Looking For
Interpersonal skills are characteristics displayed by a person when they interact with other individuals.
In a business setting, it is the ability to work well with supervisors and co-workers while completing the task at hand.
Interpersonal skills include the ability to listen and communicate effectively, apply strategic thinking and creative solutions to problems and endorse teamwork. People with strong interpersonal skills tend to be more productive as they look for solutions from a positive standpoint rather than rehash the negative.
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The Behavioral Interview
Answering questions about your interpersonal skills during an interview is sometimes the most difficult questions to answer.
Most likely, these skills will be assessed through a Behavioral-Style interview. What that means is that employers will ask you about how you have behaved in certain situations in the past or they will ask questions on how you would behave under a hypothetical situation.
You should then give specific examples of you used your strengths in those situations and/or how you were able to overcome obstacles and learn from any disappointments.
Your Answers: Be Specific About Your Use of Interpersonal Skills
1. Polish Your Communication Skills. Even the way you answer the interviewers questions will be evaluated in the context of your communication skills, so take care in responding in an articulate and clear manner.
Make sure you maintain eye contact and reflect self-confidence. You can also make references about your excellent presentation skills, how you value giving appreciation to employees and colleagues and how you promote effective communication in your team.
2. Show Yourself as a Strategic Thinker. Planning a project and the best way to approach the tasks takes a certain amount of strategic thinking.
When asked questions regarding strategic thinking describe a situation where several alternatives were available and the thought process that brought you to the –successful- solution chosen.
3. Describe your experience as a team player. Be prepared to list specific ways in which your current and previous positions have given you experience working as a member of team.
Talk about your strengths when you are a part of a team. Are you the one who comes up with the ideas? Are you good at implementation? Are you the best project manager? Do you feel you are a natural leader? Do you bring out the best in others?
Building a team means identifying the necessary skills to complete a project and seeking out the individuals who possess those skills. Being a team builder means working effectively with different personalities and supplying the inspiration to create a seamless workflow.
4. Describe your experience as a problem solver. Not all solutions work for solving all problems. It often takes creative, out-of-the-box thinking to devise just the right solution and it often takes more than one train of thought pitching in ideas.
Give a couple of examples of when you were faced with a work problem and how you used your creative problem-solving skills to achieve the desired goals. You can include a description of a successful project that included brain storming with others with different strengths and point of views. Out-of-box-thinkers are greatly valued in almost any organization.
Also, remember creative problem solving almost always involves a team effort and an effective leader will always listen to all ideas.
5. Talk about any leadership experience you may have. This could be holding a supervisory position with a title or could be an informal kind of leadership where you helped keep your team on track.
Describe your role and list specific times where your leadership helped the company accomplish a task. For example, you could talk about how you stepped-up in a particular crisis situation, or how you resolved a particular problem by delegating different tasks to team members according to particular abilities.
Your Answers: Tone and Content
- You must be able to talk about your strengths with regards to working with others effectively.
- Always speak in the positive, even if describing a task that turned out badly. An important skill to keep at the forefront is the ability to always learn something and implement that lesson in future projects and tasks.
- Answers should always be focused and to the point. Include specific accomplishments in terms of how a situation was handled and the results of your actions. Define the result in terms of specific skills, backed up with statistics if possible.
- The key is to inspire confidence in the interviewer.
Other Things to Remember for a Successful Job Interview
- Set the tone right from the start. Arrive a few minutes early. Greet the gatekeeper – whoever is the first to greet you, such as a receptionist – with a friendly, polite smile. Introduce yourself and explain why you are there. When you meet your interviewer, do so with confidence, offer to shake hands and follow his lead on where you should sit.
- Balance confidence with respect. Show you are a capable, professional individual who will take charge of your new job and carry it out well. Also show that you respect your potential new employer by taking the time to research about the position and the company beforehand. This will also help you ask thoughtful questions to the interviewer.
- Continue this tone through the after-interview period. Show your interest by following up with a letter thanking your interviewer. Wait the appropriate amount of time before touching base about the decision. If you are offered the job, continue to balance confidence and respect as you negotiate the details.
Want to see what your answers about your interpersonal skills are really saying to the interviewer? Watch the following video:
Follow these steps and you will show your potential new employer that you not only have the technical skills and education for the job, but the interpersonal skills as well. Being able to work well with others, especially as a member or leader of a team, is just as important as being able to carry out the day-to-day tasks of the job.