Interpersonal skills are the skills you use to interact with others. Everybody uses these skills daily when communicating with other people, whether this is individual or in a group. Interpersonal skills include a wide range of skills but mainly focuses on active listening and effective speaking.
Interviewers want to assess your interpersonal skills during an interview to get a better insight into how you interact with others. These skills are related to your emotional intelligence.
In a professional work environment, your interpersonal skills are required to successfully work as part of a team, to communicate effectively, and build strong relationships with clients and colleagues.
In this article, we discuss why employers want to know more about your interpersonal skills. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
What Are Interpersonal Skills?
Interpersonal skills can be referred to as people skills, social skills, or soft skills. The term ‘interpersonal skills’ is very broad and comes down to the skills that are required to interact and communicate with other people.
Below we break interpersonal skills down further.
Communication consists of:
- Verbal communication
Any communication that is used to share information with others through words is verbal communication. Verbal communication ranges from speaking/articulating clearly, active listening, to reflecting and clarifying in a conversation.
- Non-verbal communication
Body language, gestures, how someone acts or dresses are all part of their non-verbal communication. For example, the tone of your voice can indicate an emotional state, and hand signals or gestures can contribute to spoken communication.
- Active listening skills
Listening skills, in general, is an important skill to possess. Listening helps you obtain information and understand what the other person is saying to you. Active listening is making a conscious effort not only to hear the words that somebody else is saying but understanding the complete message that is being communicated.
Teamwork is important for the success of companies. This is also why employers want to assess if you work well with others. Businesses thrive on diverse teams of people who are able to contribute to individual ideas.
Emotional intelligence regards the ability to understand, but also manage your own and others’ emotions.
The ability to negotiate, persuade, and influence others are essential skills in the workplace, especially on management level. Therefore, employers are, for example, interested in how you work to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Conflict Resolution Skills
In a diverse workplace, there are going to be different opinions because people are not going to get along with each other all the time. However, most jobs require you to get along with different types of peoples and personalities.
To succeed in these situations, you must be able to handle conflicts as a professional. Working with others to resolve conflicts and disagreements positively is an essential skill.
Problem-solving skills relate to the ability to identify problems, issues, obstacles, challenges, and opportunities and then come up with and implement effective and efficient solutions.
Depending on the position and field you’re applying for a position in the interviewer can focus on different aspects of problem-solving.
Why Interviewers Ask Questions About Interpersonal Skills
Interviewers will use the job interview to assess how your interpersonal skills fit into the company culture and current work environment. Your goal is to convince them that you possess the right interpersonal skills to be successful in the position you’re applying for.
In a professional work environment, you will communicate and interact with others daily – if not hourly, and sometimes even more often. These can be communication with clients, co-workers, supervisors, etc. Strong interpersonal skills make interactions easier, more effective, and more pleasant for everybody involved. These skills help build stronger and longer-lasting professional relationships. This is also one of the reasons why employers value interpersonal skills.
Examples of work fields that specifically require strong interpersonal skills are, for example, jobs in healthcare, finance, and IT. In these fields, being able to listen, understanding what others are saying and communicating clearly is essential.
Demonstrating Interpersonal Skills
As discussed earlier, employers look for candidates with strong interpersonal skills. But how do you go about demonstrating that you possess these skills?
First, you can include them on your resume and in your cover letter. On your resume, it’s important that you name the skills you possess and successfully used in the past. In your cover letter, you can refer to these skills as well. However, make sure you highlight the skills that are required for the position you’re applying for. It’s best if you provide a short and concise statement about this skill, for example:
‘I have excellent verbal and written communication skills. I’ve successfully coordinated meetings and team projects in my previous positions.’
If you want to name other specific interpersonal skills required for the position, it’s smart to use skills, as mentioned in the job description. Interviewers will be looking for those skills in your answers during the interview as well. Therefore, make sure you prepare for the most commonly asked interview questions, use clear examples, and match your answers to the job requirements.
Other Interpersonal Skills Employers Look For
Other examples of interpersonal skills are taking responsibility for your actions, being able to adapt to changing situations, and patience when needed. Below we discuss a couple of skills related to interpersonal skills in more detail.
A workplace with employees who value a similar work ethic is essential to employers. Also, workplace ethics ensures a positive vibe in the workplace. Furthermore, it leads to happier and more satisfied employees who enjoy their work rather than treating it as a burden.
Work ethic is how you behave as a professional, how you interact and respect others, and if you can be counted on.
Openness To Feedback
Interviewers are interested in finding out how you respond to criticism and feedback. They want to know how you handle certain situations. For instance, if criticism or feedback makes you frustrated, defensive, or motivated to perform better.
Furthermore, questions about if you’re open to feedback also help employers analyze how you work under different management styles and in which work environments you thrive. In addition, it helps them assess if you’re open to feedback and how you use feedback to develop yourself personally and professionally.
Relationship management largely depends on engagement and communication. Building a relationship is just the first step, maintaining and managing them requires strong interpersonal skills as well – regardless of the job level you’re at. In every field or industry, it’s expected from employees that they engage with co-workers and customers.
Confidence and a positive attitude are key in the workplace. Employees with a positive attitude are more likely to succeed and treat others in a positive way, as well. This, in turn, contributes to creating a harmonious and positive work environment.
Self-confidence is important, regardless of the stage of your career. It helps you view the world in a positive light, which impacts the way you work with others and how they will value your views, ideas, and opinions. Confidence is an important part of efficient and effective communication.
Empathy is the ability to understand and comprehend the emotions of others. As you can imagine, empathy plays a key role in the workplace.
For example, if a client or colleague comes to you with a complaint, you should be able to listen thoughtfully to their concerns, and show empathy. This is considered a vital skill if you are to be a good manager, employee, and colleague.
Common Interview Questions To Assess Interpersonal Skills
- Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work.
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
- Describe a time you faced an unexpected challenge at work and how you dealt with it.
- Tell me about a time you had to juggle multiple important projects simultaneously.
- What motivates you? Can you describe a situation and explain what motivated you?
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a co-worker.
- Tell me about a time when you turned an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer.
- How do you de-escalate a situation with an angry customer?
- Describe a time you failed at work. How did you fix the situation?
- What do you do when you do not have the answer to a problem?
- How do you deal with different opinions when working on a team?
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to please a customer.
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic