How to Interview Candidates for Interpersonal Skills
Finding the right candidate extends beyond identifying the right skillset. A good fit for your business is also someone who builds rapport with colleagues, solves problems with teammates and creates effective relationships with supervisors. These interpersonal skills can typically be qualified during the interview process. And based on a candidate’s answers, you can find out who may be best suited for a role.
Interpersonal Skills to Look For
When looking for candidates, watch for interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership and adaptability. Search for critical thinking, a strong work ethic and attention to detail as well. Although the need for each skill will vary among positions, the skills should be present enough to perform the work.
Types of Questions to Use
You can properly assess a candidate’s interpersonal skills by asking behavioral and situational questions. Behavioral questions ask about a candidate’s past experiences. For example, “Tell me about a time when…” Candidates often answer with the STAR approach: situation, task, action and result.
Situational interview questions are hypothetical and can be based on circumstances a candidate may face if they are hired for the role. For example, “If you were working behind schedule, what would you do?” Because the questions are open-ended, candidates can discuss their experiences in their own way. You can ask follow-up questions to clarify points and more clearly understand responses.
Examples of Interview Questions
To determine if a candidate has the right interpersonal skills to best fit with your team and organization, consider these strategies to assess specific skills:
- Communication skills. “Discuss a time when you dealt with a difficult colleague. What did you do to properly communicate?”
- Teamwork. “How would you react if a team leader encouraged competition between teammates rather than collaboration?”
- Leadership skills. “What would you do in a situation in which teammates disagreed with instructions that were given?”
- Adaptability. “Discuss a time when a project’s priorities suddenly changed and you had to adapt.”
- Critical thinking. “What would you do if you found an error in a report and your manager was unavailable?”
- Work ethic. “Can you share an example of how you’ve dealt with an ethical issue at work?”
How to Evaluate Candidates
For objective evaluations, structured interviews with a set list of questions and follow-up questions in the same order are most effective. Multiple interviewers can assess scores for each candidate and average their responses to reduce individual bias. A rating system with five levels ranging from low to high or a pass/fail format can also be helpful.
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