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Interview questions about social skills

In addition to sufficient professional experience and technical proficiency, good candidates should also have a healthy dose of social skills such as communication, teamwork, and the capacity to motivate others. The following interview questions about social skills are designed to help you assess these abilities.

Why you should ask candidates about their social skills

Imagine you want to hire an account manager. You have two candidates in front of you, both with an equivalent level of education and a lot of experience working in marketing as well as knowledge of the CRM software that your company uses. How would you decide who to hire? Social skills can help you differentiate.

At the start of your hiring process, you should establish what social skills are important for the vacancy and then base your interview questions on these. Here are a few sample interview questions about social skills.

Use these questions in combination with those about communication skills and teamwork.

Interview questions about social skills

Adaptability

  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced when you’ve started a new job?
  • Tell me about a project where the amount of work involved increased significantly. How did you adapt to this situation and what did you do to ensure your team stayed motivated?

Teamwork

  • Tell me about a colleague you had to work with but who you didn’t get on with. How did you behave?
  • What would you do if your team rejected all your ideas?

Communication

  • If you were presenting some ideas and your audience seemed uninterested and distracted during the meeting, how would you get them to pay more attention?
  • How would you calm angry customers down?

Decision-making skills

  • Tell me about an unpopular decision you made. How did you deal with feedback? How could you have handled the situation differently?
  • What’s the best option for making decisions when you’re working on a group project?

Leadership

  • Have you ever let an employee go? If so, why did you have to do it and how did you break the news?
  • How do you motivate your team members during difficult projects? Please give me an example from your own experience.

Time management

  • If you were given several tasks at the same time, how would you get yourself organized without working sloppily?
  • Have you ever fallen behind schedule? What went wrong and what would you do differently next time?

Tips for assessing candidates’ social skills

  • Consider how candidates have worked in the past. It’s hard to assess social skills in the same way as technical or specialist expertise. Experience-based questions can thus help you get a better idea of a candidate’s social skills.
  • Invent hypothetical scenarios. Test out how candidates would behave in situations that are highly likely to crop up in their day-to-day work. You should give candidates scenarios or projects that they can work through step by step.
  • Use a scorecard. Create a scorecard to keep track during the interview of how well you think candidates answer your questions. You could use a “pass/fail” system to rate their responses, for instance.
  • Ask all candidates the same questions. To avoid any bias or prejudice during the interviews, make sure that you ask all candidates the same questions in the same order. This will make it easier for you to compare answers and stay objective.

Warning signs

  • Applicants give pre-rehearsed answers. Candidates will have prepared for questions like “What role would you take in a team project?” or “What’s your approach to deadlines?” You should therefore add hypothetical scenarios to your questions that require them to think on their feet. This will enable you to spot candidates who answer truthfully.
  • Applicants are inconsistent. Ask more than one question to determine a candidate’s social skills. If you’re looking for a good communicator, for example, compare your candidates’ answers with the emails or cover letter that they wrote.
  • Applicants don’t give any specific examples. Generic statements will not tell you much about a candidate’s skills, so keep on asking them questions to clarify anything that’s unclear. Good candidates should be able to reference real-life scenarios from their career to date.
  • Applicants do not fit your corporate culture. Social skills are not black and white. Candidates can have the same skills (e.g. leadership) but use them in different ways. You should therefore look for candidates who deploy their skills in a way that fits your corporate culture.

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