Interviewing for Interpersonal Skills

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By the time you start scheduling interviews, you have narrowed down your candidates quite a bit. You’ve passed over anyone whose experience and education is not up to snuff. You’ve even done a bit of sleuthing on the candidate’s social media accounts to look for red flags. Likely, the resumes you are left with are going to be fairly comparable. What is going to set apart the interviewees? Interpersonal skills.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Investopedia has a great definition for the term “interpersonal skills.” It says: Interpersonal skills are the skills used by a person to interact with others properly.

Another way of putting it is interpersonal skills is social intelligence. These skills can include: having a positive attitude, clear communication and being a team player. In many industries, customer service might also be included in this list of necessary interpersonal skills.

Why is social intelligence so important? An employee with good interpersonal skills is more likely to:

  • be productive
  • work well with others
  • represent the company well

In fact, in one study among doctors in Florida, researchers found that those with good interpersonal skills were less likely to be sued for malpractice, regardless of overall competency. Clearly, social intelligence matters!

How to Interview for Interpersonal Skills

Most job seekers know managers are looking for candidates with good interpersonal skills. So, almost every resume you see will probably have the claim of “team player,” “excellent communicator,” or they “work well with others.” In the interview, it’s your job to test the accuracy of those statements.

The best way to find out if a candidate has strong interpersonal skills is to ask for examples of those skills in action. Questions you might ask in an interview are:

  • Can you tell me about a time when you clashed with a co-worker and how you handled the situation?
  • What was the last mistake you made at work, and how did you deal with it?
  • Can you give me an example of a time you worked closely with a team for a specific project? What was your role? How did the project turn out?

You might also ask for the candidate’s opinion of how they are perceived at work, such as:

  • How would your last boss describe you?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • What do you think I will hear when I call your professional references?

This gives you an idea of how the candidate views themselves, as well as how attuned they are to others. When you actually speak to those references, you will be able to determine if the candidate has an overinflated ego, or if they are realistic in their view of themselves.

For more help with interview techniques, rely on the Springfield staffing solutions provided by Staffing Partners. We bring you the best candidates with the right skills for the job.

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