Regardless of the industry or sector, well-developed communication skills are an essential requirement for most jobs today. Competency-based interviews are an ideal forum for testing these skills and so preparing to answer questions on communication should be a major focus for savvy candidates.
Here we take a closer look at why communication skills are so important and identify questions designed to assess your communication capabilities.
Most jobs involve working with other people- customers, colleagues, managers and potential collaborative business partners. Developing an effective working relationship with them requires constructive communication. Being able to build a rapport with them, clearly convey your position and influence them to support you in the objectives you need to achieve requires top of the class communication skills.
Types of communication
There are a number of aspects to communication which you need to be aware of and think about- as these all will be tested at interview. Communication skills go far beyond the verbal and the written word. A proficient communicator will also be aware of using positive body language, maintaining eye contact, demonstrating respect, and employing active listening techniques. Even when the interview question is not specifically about communication, you still need to showcase your skills in this area. Be aware of your communication strengths and weaknesses- working with a professional interview coach can really help identify and address any potential issues.
Common communication questions
The interview panel wants to discover more about how you communicate. In a competency-based process they will expect you to describe examples from your past which provide evidence of your strengths in this area. Structure your answer using the (S) ituation, (T) ask, (A) ction, (R) esult approach, to ensure you present your examples in a logical way which reinforces your aptitude for effective communication.
You need to show you are articulate, clear, concise and compelling. Bear in mind that they will be just as interested in how you get your point across, as the actual information you convey. Questions which often come up include:
- Tell us about a time when you had to explain a complex, technical issue to a non-specialist colleague?
- Provide an example of when you had to convince another team member that you were right.
- What process do you follow when producing a written report- tell us about the last one you presented.
- Describe a situation where you had to deliver a difficult piece of information.
- Explain how you have in the past positively influenced your manager.
- How do you encourage other colleagues to share ideas with the team?
- How important do you believe listening skills are in the workplace? Tell us how you use them.
- Imagine you have an important project to deliver and you need to work with a difficult team member- how would you convince them to help achieve your collective goals?
- Have you ever failed to communicate effectively? Tell us about that.
Constructing competent answers
Consider the questions outlined above and think of examples from your experience which demonstrate your capacity for high calibre communication. Prepare a number of well developed options which illustrate your points, as you may need to be flexible on the day if the panel approach the subject from a different angle. Don’t be afraid of admitting to some shortcomings if you are directly asked the final question listed- as long as the admission is minor and you can show you have addressed it since then.
For more competency-based interview questions, see our guide on the Interview Skills website.