Communication Job Interview Questions & Answers

Effective communication skills are needed in every workplace. Communication skills are, therefore regarded as an essential skill by employers. When you’re going for a job interview, you can be sure that the interviewer will ask you about your communication skills. Communication job interview questions are asked in almost every interview, regardless of the position you’re applying for.

The interviewer wants to test and evaluate your communication skills and find out how you handle challenging work situations. Your answers give the interviewer the information needed to assess whether or not you’re the right candidate for the job.

In this article, interview questions about your communication skills are discussed. Furthermore, information is provided on how you should approach and answer these questions. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

Why the interviewer is asking about your communication skills

In a work environment, a lot of processes rely heavily on sharing information. Therefore, strong communication skills are essential in order to deliver and understand information accurate and quickly. Poor communication skills can negatively impact business processes and could cause misunderstanding, frustration, and even failure. This is one of the factors of why interviewers want to assess your skills. In general, questions about your communication skills are asked to measure your ability to communicate in different situations and with different personalities. The ability to communicate efficiently is needed not only for being productive in your work but also for creating a healthy work environment.

Employees, no matter their position in the company or seniority level, interact with colleagues, team leaders, managers, clients, customers, or partners daily. This is why good communication skills are important in the workplace. For instance, a senior manager should have the ability to communicate tough decisions and possess the ability to handle difficult situations and discussions at work. Customer service representatives need to come across as genuine, friendly, and empathetic when talking to unsatisfied customers.

A job interview allows employers to assess and evaluate how the candidates communicate and handle situations. The questions they asked can also focus on teamwork to see how you collaborate on teams and whether or not you are able to efficiently convey and listen to messages.

One way to get answers is by using behavioral job interview questions. These type of strategic interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you experienced in your career. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tell the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.

Behavioral job interview questions

Certain job interview questions that the interviewer asks you to assess your communication skills are called ‘behavioral job interview questions.’ These questions focus on professional work situations that you experienced in the past. The way you respond to questions about handling situations tells the interviewer more about how you convey your message.

There are several reasons why interviewers use behavioral interview questions. The objective of a hiring manager is, of course, to hire the best candidate for the job. They want to avoid hiring the person that they ‘like’ best and need something better to assess whether or not a candidate is a right fit for the job. By asking you questions that let them analyze your professional behavior in the workplace, the interviewer can test your suitability for the position.

Behavioral job interview questions usually start with:

  • Give me an example of
  • Tell me about a time when you
  • Have you ever
  • What do you do when
  • Describe situations where

These interview questions are often used to assess certain skills such as communication, but also about your level of adaptability, teamwork, or leadership skills. The interviewer will focus his questions on important characteristics that you need to possess to be regarded as suitable for the position.  Your past behavior in professional work settings will be discussed. The reason for asking behavioral job interview questions instead of just asking traditional ones is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is your past performance in similar situations.

Interviewers consider the following when using behavioral questions in a job interview:

  • Bad hires are costly

Hiring the wrong candidate is one of the most expensive mistakes a company can make. A bad hire can have an impact on the rest of the team and even worse, their clients/customers. The costs of turnovers are high, not only in terms of money but also in terms of time. Therefore, interviewers ask you different kind of questions to assess your suitability

  • Specific details of your professional behavior

Behavioral interview questions are used by interviewers to determine how your past performance aligns with their current hiring needs. The answer you give provides the interviewer with more insight into your behavior in the workplace, your problem-solving skills, and personal attributes.

  • Past behavior in the workplace is a good predictor for future performance

Interviewers ask you about how you handled situations in the past because for them this is a good indicator of your future success. This proven technique can give more insight into your future work performance. Therefore, prepare well for these questions and expect questions about communication such as ‘describe a challenging work situation and how you overcame it?‘, ‘Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?‘ ‘What’s your approach to delegating work to others?‘, or ‘Tell me about a time you managed an important project?‘. All these questions require you to highlight how you communicated in that particular situation. Based on your answers, the interviewer wants to assess whether or not you’re a fit for the job and company.

  • The interviewer can avoid making the wrong decision

The ultimate goal of using behavioral interview questions is to make the right hiring decision. Interviewers are interested in your previous patterns in work-related situations. This information gives them more insight into your approach to critical situations and if this approach matches the ones required for the position you’re applying for. By preparing the right way, you can make sure that your example answer situations include aspects of the important job requirements. Of course, the interviewer is looking for candidates that fit the job description, so make sure to make your answers related.

Why your communication skills matter to the interviewer

As said earlier, communication skills are vital in the workplace. The interviewer wants to know how you approach certain situations. It’s therefore important that you are able to demonstrate the needed skills for the job in your answers. The example situations you use should demonstrate that you can take on the day-to-day tasks required for the position and have development potential.

Behavioral interview questions are used to find out who you really are and how you go about handling certain situations. The interviewers want to get the following questions answered:

  1. Are you easy to get along with?
  2. Can you communicate effectively with different personalities?
  3. Are you able to adequately respond to situations that occur during your work?
  4. Are you able to adjust to changing work environments?
  5. Can you assist your coworkers or team when needed?
  6. Are you flexible in your approaches to situations at work?

Top communication skills that interviewers are looking for

There are several communication skills that interviewers can be looking for during a job interview. Most of these are general in nature and applicable to most work situations that you can encounter in your workplace. If you really want to stand out from the competition, you need to do your research the right way by figuring out what exact communication skills the employer values. Once you know this, you can play into the situation by highlighting your communication skills in example scenario’s on how you handled similar situations in the past. Remember, strong communication skills will really help you get hired, get promoted, and will help you progress further throughout your career.

Listening

Communication starts with listening effectively. It’s important to take your time to actually listen to what the other person is trying to say practice your active listening skills. Nobody likes to communicate with a person who only cares about conveying their own story and does not take time to listen to someone else. Some who has the right listening skills listens with his/her whole body, is alert and is genuinely interested in another person. A good listener does not interrupt someone else mid-conversation and reflects back on what you heard the other person saying.

Non-verbal communication

Communication is much more than just words and the message that they convey. It includes implicit messages through non-verbal behavior. Non-verbal behavior includes your facial expressions, eye contact, the pitch, and tone of your voice, and gestures that you make through your body language such as hand, arm, and leg postures. Some research estimates suggest that around seventy to eighty percent of all communication is non-verbal.

Ensure that you use your non-verbal communication to reinforce what you’re saying in words during a job interview.

Empathy

Demonstrating empathy means that you are able to understand and share the feelings of somebody else. Of course, in a professional work environment, everybody will have their own ideas on how things should be done. However, even though you might have disagreements with your colleagues or superiors, you should always consider and respect their point of view.

Friendliness

The right tone is important in any kind of communication. The actual way you say things impacts the way your message is received. A friendly tone leads to others being encouraged to communicate with you. Being polite will get you a long way in all your workplace interaction, whether it’s face-to-face or written communication.

Cohesion, clarity, and concision

When you communicate with other people, make sure that you’re clear, concise, and articulate. Good communication is not only about saying the right thing, but also about communicating your message to-the-point and efficiently. A lack of clarity in a message can result in confusion or even a poor decision.

Emotional intelligence

Your emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand your own emotions and the emotions of others as well. This ability is important for employers because if you have a high EI, you’re more likely to express your emotions healthily in the workplace. Also, you’re more likely to understand the emotions of your coworkers and clients. In turn, this can enhance working relationships in the workplace and impact performance in a positive way.

Ways of showing emotional intelligence are, for instance, through active listening. You can also demonstrate emotional intelligence by showing the right emotions to establish a connection with the interviewer. Think of smiling (as long as it does not appear inauthentic or forced) and showing enthusiasm and excitement for the position. Other ways of demonstrating emotional intelligence is:

  • By sharing the credit for team achievements
  • Demonstrating how you are trying to improve yourself as a professional
  • Showing that you can learn from your mistakes through examples
  • Not shying away from discussing conflict situations at work

Confidence

Showing confidence when you’re conveying your message is crucial. However, showing confidence does not mean over-confident or cocky. Demonstrating to the interviewer that you can, for instance, interact with customers with confidence will have a positive effect on your chances. Provide them with examples that show that you can convince customers in such a way that they get faith in your abilities to deliver whatever it is they need.

Showing confidence in a job interview can be done in several ways. First off, make sure that you practice keeping good eye contact while you’re listening, but also when you’re speaking yourself. When it comes to your body position you want to maintain a neutral and open position. Don’t cross your arms but keep them by your side. Furthermore, talk clearly and slowly during the interview. Other than that, smile! Come across as if you’re enjoying the process through calm facial expressions.

The final tip to show confidence in a job interview is by interviewing the interviewer. Besides that this shows that you’re well prepared it’s an opportunity to indicate that you’re not looking for any position, but that you’re looking for the right position.

Respect

Respecting other people’s opinion and ideas is key for a good communicator. When you convey respect towards other people, they will be more open to communicating with you. You can show respect through various simple actions such as mentioning someone’s name, through eye contact during the conversation and actively listening when somebody is talking. Make sure the person you’re talking to feels appreciated and stay focused when talking to them.

Open-mindedness

Being flexible and open-minded in conversations are traits of strong communicators. Try to understand another person’s point of view and actively listen to the message that they are trying to convey. Even if you disagree, always remain calm and see if you can reach a middle ground that could benefit all parties involved. When you approach situations or discussions, open-minded a successful outcome is more likely to happen.

Tone of voice

The tone of voice that you use can influence and steer the whole conversation. You can imagine that if you start your conversation in a calm and constructive way, the person you’re talking to will be more inclined to respond similarly. The same way goes the other way around. If you start by going on the offensive, your conversation partner is more likely to do the same. Make sure that you control the level of emotion and the volume of your voice the right way.

Frequently asked job interview questions about communication skills

Below you find a list of common interview questions about communication.

  1. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment
  2. Describe a time you had a conflict and how you resolved it
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  4. Imagine you’re having a disagreement with a superior. How would you resolve this?
  5. How would you go about explaining a complex situation or challenge to a client?
  6. Tell me about a time you received unclear instructions from a manager. How did you approach this situation, and what was the result?
  7. Tell me about a time you were on a team project that failed. What went wrong?
  8. Tell me about a situation in which miscommunication occurred at work. How did you handle/fix this?
  9. Tell me about a time you had to talk to an angry/frustrated client. How did you approach this situation, and what was the outcome?
  10. What is your approach to delegating work to employees?
  11. Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?
  12. Describe your management style
  13. Tell me about a time you managed an important project
  14. How have you motivated others at work?
  15. What was the most challenging project you’ve worked on?

Preparing answers to job interview questions about communication

There are several important elements to take into consideration when you’re preparing for job interview questions about your communication skills. Include the following point in your interview preparation:

Do your research

Thoroughly study the job description and company in general as the start of your interview preparation. This research will help you identify the needed competencies, skills, and abilities.

Write down a list of competencies, skills, and abilities

Behavioral interview questions are very good to actually demonstrate your talent, competencies, and results. Based on the competencies, skills, and abilities you have identified, you can prepare answers to behavioral questions. A lot of companies are looking for similar skills such as teamwork, leadership, flexibility, attention to detail, adaptability, creativity, responsibilities, etc. Rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the job that you are interviewing for.

Come up with a list of your past experiences that relate to the job you’re applying for

Next, make a list of past work experiences. Make sure to highlight successful situations where you demonstrated behavior related to the competencies, skills, and abilities required for the job. Focus on delivering a concise and to-the-point answer.

Focus on successful situations and challenging ones

Just like you should be able to discuss a successful situation, you should also be prepared to answer questions about challenging situations. Make sure that you have some examples ready of situations in which you faced a challenge but came out successfully. Tell the interviewer what you did, why you did it, and what the outcome was. Also, explain what you learned from the situation. Focus on demonstrating problem-solving ability, adaptability, and ability to professionally approach situations. There’s always a chance that the interviewer will ask a follow-up question to test your self-awareness by asking how you might handle a similar kind of situation differently now.

Use the STAR method to structure your answer

During your job interview, the interviewer wants to discuss previous work situations and wants you to elaborate on them. By preparing example scenarios, you can give exactly the information that he or she is looking for. Make sure that you provide the interviewer the situation you were in, your task in that situation, the action you took, and the specific results that can come out of those actions. In short, this is called the STAR-method of providing an answer. The STAR method is discussed in more detail later on in this article.

The STAR method allows you to concisely provide the interviewer an answer by logically walking them through the situation. Below the STAR method is discussed step by step.

General elements to consider when structuring your answer:

  1. Give the interviewer an answer in the form of a ‘story’ and structure this story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough.
  2. Display the skills and abilities that are needed for the job you’re applying for and that the interviewer wants to see. Make sure you match your qualifications to the job and skills as mentioned in the job description.
  3. Be honest. Interviewers will notice if you make a story up. Also, they will ask follow-up questions to go more in-depth into the situation you provide them with. Make sure to prepare several example situations of skills and abilities that you think will be discussed based on your research.

STAR Interview Technique

Behavioral job interview questions are best answered by providing example situations according to the STAR method. This way, you can give interviewers exactly what they are looking for. Also, it allows you to provide a concise and to the point answer about how you acted in previous work situations. Below the STAR acronym is broken down into each step.

Situation

When you give your answer to the interviewer, start by setting the stage. Provide context around the situation or challenge you were facing. Also, make sure to provide relevant details.

Task

After you describe the situation, talk about your specific responsibilities and what your role was. It’s important that the interviewer gets an understanding of your task.

Action

Then, talk about the actions you took to resolve the challenges you were facing. Provide the interviewer with a step by step description of what actions you took.

Result

Finally, talk about the outcomes of your actions. Make sure to take credit for your behavior that led to the result. Here you answer questions such as What happened? What did you accomplish? Also, provide the interviewer with information about what you learned from the situation. Make sure to focus on positive results and positive learning experiences.

Sample answers to interview questions about communication

Below you will find some example interview questions about your communication skills. Some example answers are longer than others, and it’s up to you to figure out how concise your message should be during a job interview. In the examples below a lot of detail is included to convey your message the right way. However, these are ‘general’ examples. Do not forget to structure your own answers in a way that convinces the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job!

Communication interview question example 1:

The first questions regard a situation in which you had challenges working with a manager or other superior. It’s important to approach such situations in a diplomatic way in order to change the situation.

‘Tell me about a time you had difficulties working with a manager. How did you address these challenges?’

‘In my previous position, I worked with a team supervisor, where I initially had difficulties getting along with. With regard to my job performance, I got less feedback than I got from other managers in my career, which sometimes made it difficult to meet expectations. This made it challenging for me to evaluate my performance, as well. In the beginning, we had a few disagreements, but I found out that these were based on misunderstandings in communication.

I requested a meeting with her and asked if she could provide me with more direct and specific feedback on work that needed to be done. She understood what I asked her and from that day on, we were on the same page in terms of expectation. We had a successful working relationship for over four years after that meeting and worked together on several large projects. What I learned from my previous experience is that I should take time to discuss management styles with new managers and make sure that expectations from both sides are clear. Clear communication is definitely the key to success.’

Why is this a strong answer?

  1. This is an honest answer about a situation that required you to use your communication skills.
  2. The answer includes how you communicated throughout the process and which actions you took to address the situation.
  3. Finally, a conclusion of your actions is mentioned but also what’s equally as important; what you learned from your experience.

Communication interview question example 2:

This question regards a situation in which you had to manage an important project. As with everything in the workplace, clear communication is key. It’s your goal to demonstrate that you possess solid communication skills in order to get your message across and get the project done according to the set requirements.

‘Tell me about a time you had to manage an important project. How did you approach this, and how did you communicate your strategy?’

‘I’ve been involved in multiple important projects in my previous position as a sales manager. One time I was asked to set up a project team to work on a sales pitch to convince a new client to use our services. The pressure was on because it was a 5-year deal and a multi-million dollar contract that was at stake. For the company as well as for me personally, this was a big deal. As this deal would mean a lot for the company in terms of turnover increase, I understood that failure was not an option because it was a unique opportunity.

I gathered a team of the most experienced employees and selected them based on their individual qualities and strengths to make sure to balance the team out. Together with the team, a planning document was set up, and goals and milestones were determined. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member. Also, I hired a project manager to carefully monitor the progress on a day to day basis and report to me on the milestone progress.

Because I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, everyone on the team was aware of their responsibilities and the importance of the project. The team delivered everything on time without requiring intense oversight. We finished our sales pitch ahead of the deadline and were able to provide the client with everything he asked for.  The client told us that he was impressed by our efforts, and we landed the contract, which was the largest contract closed in that year. This was a great accomplishment for the team as it was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’ 

Why is this a strong answer?

  1. This example shows that you are able to perform under pressure and communicate a strategy to a team.
  2. The provided example is related but also relevant to the workplace. It demonstrates that you are able to adapt to a situation.
  3. This answer shows important skills such as clear communication, proactive, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and creativity.

Communication interview question example 3:

Demonstrating leadership is all about clear communication and making sure everybody is fully aware of their responsibilities. These questions are often asked in more senior positions but can also be asked in graduate-level job interviews. Interviewers ask this to gauge your leadership potential.

‘Tell me about a time you had to demonstrate leadership.’

‘In my previous position, where we ran behind on a new company-wide system upgrade that was going to fix issues we had with our online orders. The delay in implementation took longer than expected and caught us off guard. We had the holidays coming up, which counts for almost 25% of our annual revenue. My team had to work double shifts to process all orders, and the outlook was that this was needed until the system upgrade was placed. This led to people being stressed and overworked, which cause the team morale to drop. As the team manager, it was my responsibility to get the team performance back to normal.

I gathered the team to discuss the situation. I expressed my appreciation for their effort during this challenging situation for the department and company in general. During our meeting, I called upon their assistance to find a way for the team to work more efficiently, including myself, for however long the system update was not implemented yet. I actively participated in the group’s brainstorming session and encouraged the team members to talk freely and discuss options. After an hour, we created a shortlist of options on which we voted. I created teams of two within the team to further investigate how we could implement the discussed options.

The result and learning moments

The reaction of the team to this approach was very positive. They appreciated being involved in such an important process to work on a solution that would benefit both the team and the company. By working together and focussing on a shared goal, the team worked in a productive and creative way to find a solution. Also, the fact that their ideas would be heard immediately helped to come up with several solutions that could be implemented right away. These solutions saved us valuable time and energy. One of the ideas was to bring in temporary workers that could be trained on the job by the current team members for as long as the update was not implemented. This ultimately led to us hitting our marks for the holiday season. We were able to reach the needed levels of revenue.

Listening to team members and quickly taking action to follow-up to their ideas really helped increase work efficiency and morale. Based on this positive experience, we decided to include such brainstorming and idea evaluations into our monthly meetings. This way, team members would stay more engaged, and we would get more knowledge of what actually goes own in the heads of the team members. Also, there’s now a plan in place with the HR department in case such a situation occurs again in the future to make sure we always have enough people to perform up to our potential.’

Why is this a strong answer?

  1. This answer shows that you are able to handle unexpected situations while still being able to strategize and lead a team. This shows that you take responsibility when it’s time to do so.
  2. The answer includes how you communicated throughout the process and which actions you took to address the situation.
  3. Also, the answer shows that you can handle and structure a team while still communicating clearly and involving everybody in the process. This is what leadership is all about.
  4. Finally, a conclusion of your actions is mentioned but also what’s equally as important; what you learned from your experience.

Communication interview question example 4:

Certain situations in the professional workplace require some extra motivation. Motivating others is done through communication. This question requires you to explain how you motivate others and give an example of a time when you did.

‘Tell me about a time you had to motivate your team and how you did this.’

‘When I worked at XYZ as a project manager, the company hit a rough patch which led to company-wide layoffs. My team consisted of ten team members, but after the layoffs, we remained with six, but we were still responsible for the duties of the four co-workers that left the company. As a result, we fell behind on production and team morale suffered as well. This, in turn, led to more errors on the work floor. As the project manager, I was ultimately responsible for team performance, so it was my duty to get the team back on track.

I got together with the team to discuss the problems they encountered and to discuss strategies on how we could work our way through these issues. First and foremost, I complimented them on their effort and dedication during this complex time for everyone. After hearing their challenges, I asked them to give suggestions on how we could solve them and how we could increase our effectiveness and efficiency. We brainstormed for over an hour in which every team member had his or her say, and wrote down ideas that could benefit us. After a team vote, we prioritized the ideas, and each team member got assigned a task.

The team reacted positively after being included in the approach to solve the issues in this challenging time. They were able to present their own solutions and could immediately start research the feasibility. We came up with specific ideas that could be implemented fairly quickly and increase efficiency.

The result and learning moments

First off, we asked our team assistants to clean up the agenda’s of everybody on the team so that only important meetings remained. Then, we asked the team assistants to pick up some tasks that were burdens for the other team members. This way, the team could analyze the additional work that needed to be done and share these tasks among each other. This made the team more efficient and effective. Also, it boosted the morale up again because even though it was a challenge and a lot of work, team members knew what they needed to do and what their responsibilities were. 

By actively involving the team in important decisions about team strategy, we got better results. We decided to implement such brainstorm sessions into our monthly meetings.’

Why is this a strong answer?

  1. This is an honest answer about a difficult time in a company that required you to step up and motivate others.
  2. The answer described the situation clearly and what you did to motivate others in order to work your way through challenging times.
  3. The answer includes how you communicated with your team and how you included them in the process.
  4. Finally, a conclusion of your actions is mentioned but also what’s equally as important; what you learned from your experience.