How to Answer Skills-Related Questions at Job Interviews
Experienced interviewers often want to know the essence of your skills — how you arrived at your accomplishments from previous jobs. Skills-related job interview questions may include: How would you rate your writing skills in comparison to your verbal skills? How do you delegate responsibility?
Here are some ways to respond to these and other skills-related questions.
What is the toughest job problem you’ve ever faced?
Recall a problem, the skills used in your action to deal with it, and the successful results; this is a skills-detailed version of PAR (problem, action, result).
Explain how you could apply those same skills to the prospective job.
What do you like least about gathering information to deal with a problem (research)?
Comment that wanting to do a first-rate job, you’re uncomfortable when you’re uncertain that you’ve compiled enough research to quit and make a decision that affects the wellbeing of others.
Explain that you use multiple resources — Web, books, journals, and expert people — and you become frustrated when key resources aren’t adequate.
How good are you at making oral presentations?
Discuss how you prepare. Name presentation skills. Mention specific instances where you’ve given a good show.
Offer to give a one-minute oral presentation on a topic you’ve practiced.
How would you rate your writing skills in comparison to your verbal skills?
Discuss how both skills — as well as listening — are important to being a good communicator, and that while one or the other may be your strong suit, you’re working to become strongly proficient at both speaking and writing. Explain how you’re doing so — class work, independent study, membership in Toastmasters International or a writing group; show brief writing samples.
Concretely explain a real communication situation in your past; describe how you communicated the information and the result.
* If you’re a weak communicator, give a compensatory response that substitutes another skill for writing or verbal skills; for example, in a technical call center, problem-solving outweighs the need for golden tonsils and laudable business writing.
How do you deal with unexpected events on the job?
Discuss how you immediately reprioritize your assignments in emergencies.
Mention specific instances where you were able to complete a project (or projects) on time despite unforeseen complications.
How do you organize your time?
Affirm that you put first things first. Each day you identify A-level tasks and get those done before moving on to B-level tasks. You return voicemail messages once or twice daily and urgent messages immediately.
Comment that you use up-to-date planning products. These include planning software such as PlanPlusOnline, and PDA (personal digital assistant) hand-held devices, such as a BlackBerry. If you organize yourself on paper, mention a formal business product such as a Franklin Planner. (Pulling out a pocket calendar is like pulling out a slide rule.) Conclude with true examples showing that you completed multiple tasks on time.
Discuss how you went through a typical day on one of your previous jobs.
How do you delegate responsibility?
Discuss how you involve everyone in the overall picture.
Discuss specific projects that were successful because of your team effort.
What’s your experience with group projects (teamwork)?
Mention a specific project, including the group goals and your particular responsibilities.
Discuss your positive relationship with the project supervisor; compliment coworkers.