Interpersonal skills, or how well one relates to and works with
others, have long been a major focus area for candidate interviewing
and selection. Questions that you are likely to encounter during
the interview as the basis for examining your interpersonal
- With what kind of persons do you most enjoy working? Why?
- With what kind of people do you have most difficulty working?
- Describe your relationship with your boss.
- In what areas do you agree?
- In what areas do you disagree? Why?
- How do you resolve your differences?
- With which of your past co-workers did you most enjoy working?
- What factors most influence these positive feelings?
- With which of your past co-workers did you least enjoy working?
- What accounted for your dissatisfaction?
- What did you do about it?
- What was the outcome of your efforts?
- How would you describe your relationships with others outside
your immediate work group?
- Tell me about a time when you had a major conflict with
- What caused the conflict?
- What did you do to resolve the issue?
- What were the results?
- In which of your past positions did you feel most comfortable
(had a sense of belonging and fitting in)? Why?
- In which of your past positions did you feel least comfortable
(had a sense of not belonging and fitting in)? What most contributed
to your uneasiness? What did you do to ease these feelings?
- During a reference check, what is your boss most likely
to tell me about your interpersonal skills?
- In what areas would you be described as effective? What
areas would be cited for improvement? Why?
- How could you most improve your interpersonal effectiveness?
- When confronted with an angry person, what do you do?
- If someone is critical of you and appears not to like you,
what do you do?
- If you sensed you were not fitting in well with your work
group and felt you were being treated as an outsider, what
would you do?
- What examples can you cite that best demonstrate your ability
to relate well to others?
- In which of your past positions did you feel most isolated
- What caused these feelings?
- What did you do?
- What could you do that would most improve your ability to
relate to others?
- Which of your skills would you rate higher? Why?
- Your "technical" skills?
- Your interpersonal skills?
- Do you feel it is more important to be well-liked by others
or be admired for your effectiveness? Why?
The Classic Answers
The following represent some fairly
effective ways of answering some of the tougher interview
questions concerning your interpersonal effectiveness.
They should serve as good models for preparing your own
interview strategy for effectively addressing this interview
1. "Mary, I have always had an excellent reputation for
getting along well with others and view this as one
of my strengths. Although this has certainly never been
an issue, occasionally I could listen more carefully
to another's point. Sometimes I may have a tendency
to cut conversation short due to the crush of the workload.
Realizing this, I have tried to consciously be sensitive
to this tendency and force myself to be a little more
patient. As result, I believe that I have improved in
2. "Yes, I've had one or two occasions where I have had
a major blow-out with another employee, but
I have always been able to successfully resolve them.
These are very rare occasions, however.
Last year, while Manager of Technical Employment, I
was accused by the director of human resources- technology
of not producing sufficient employment candidates for
the R&D group. He had just come back from a staff
meeting with the vice president of technology in which
this was raised as a major issue. unfortunately, he
assumed that I was to blame and came storming into my
office full of anger and accusations.
I listened carefully and then, at the appropriate moment,
cut in and said, " Jim, I can appreciate that you
are upset. Perhaps if you can give me a minute or two
we can get this thing ironed out." At this point,
he calmed down and I was able to demonstrate that our
log showed that we had sent over 300 resumes to various
R&D managers for review that had not been returned.
I was also able to show him several follow-up notes
to these managers asking that the resumes be reviewed
3. "Since at the time our department was the staffing resource
to Central Engineering for a $1.5 billion capital program
and had more than 150 engineering positions to fill,
we were extremely busy. After realizing what we were
up against and providing Jim with the evidence of our
efforts to satisfy R&D's needs, Jim was quite satisfied
and apologized for his behavior. I then gave him copies
of the resume referral log for use in the vice president's
next staff meeting. Needless to say, the problem disappeared
4. "Although I have generally gotten along well with all
of the groups I have worked in, the group with which
I least enjoyed working with was the Cost Accounting
Department at the Waynesboro mill. Although I certainly
fit in with the group just fine and there were no real
issues, I felt that they were not particularly motivated
to bring about improvements in manufacturing cost reduction.
They seemed more interested in being whistle blowers
than a helpful resource to the operating department
heads. This always made me feel a bit uncomfortable
because of the animosity caused by this approach.
Quite frankly, I pretty much ignored this and went about
my work. It was my approach, however, to work as a team
with operating department managers, and to try to help
them better understand and control their operating costs.
I know they appreciated this and valued me as a professional
resource to their team."
These examples will give you some good ideas for
your own interview strategy in effectively addressing questions
relating to your interpersonal skills. This is an important
area for which you will need to be well-prepared if you are
going to be successful in generating interest in your employment
candidacy and landing job offers.