How to assess communication skills in an interview

August 30, 2022
Mikaella McInerney
How to assess communication skills in an interview

Every company needs to communicate. Whether you’re a brand new founding team of two or a multi-department corporate giant, work involves people talking to one another. There are all sorts of successful workplace strategies to keep your communication running smoothly, from regular check-ins to fostering a feedback culture, but a massive part of ensuring successful communication across a company is dependent upon recruitment. Every recruiter needs to know that the person they hire is going to communicate effectively and efficiently, no matter the role, no matter the department.

Strong communication skills are crucial to making a successful hire. They are essential for teamwork, improve problem solving, and ensure your company brand is represented well to the wider world. But how can you spot them? In this article, we’ll explain how to assess communication skills in an interview and why they are crucial for hiring the best talent.

Strategies for assessing communication skills

Your assessment of a candidate’s communication skills should start not just in the interview, but from the very moment they apply for the job. Do they include all the information you request in your job posting? Is their cover letter tailored to your company? Does their CV present a clear and understandable portrait of their professional and educational history to date? Any missteps here are a good early warning sign of poor communication skills.

In an interview, your assessment of the candidate’s communication skills can kick up a notch. Once again, keep an eye out from the moment they arrive (or answer the phone, or appear in the video call!). How do they greet you? How are they with casual chit-chat? Someone doesn’t need to be super friendly to succeed in a role, but your dream candidate will give you an insight of what it might be like to work with them during the interview. Assess not just informational communication skills but their interpersonal skills: do they look you in the eye? Do they listen as well as speak? Do they answer your questions in a satisfying way? Consider body language, tone of voice, active listening, and focus.

You can also target a specific section of your interview towards communication skills, asking them questions designed to give you insight into how they communicate and how successful they are at it. Communication is one of those fun skills where describing how you do it actually involves showing off the skill in question, so pay attention to the clarity and intelligibility of their answers.

Another option for assessing communication skills might be to set your candidate a skills assessment test. If you’re hiring a copywriter or sales person, for example, you might ask them to write a sample email to see how they communicate to customers. If you’re hiring an engineer, you might ask them to write a brief explanation of a problem they’re dealing with as part of their work. This is a great way to ensure you’re testing written as well as verbal communication.

Interview questions to assess communication skills

Need some help beefing up the communication questions in your interview handbook? Here are some great questions to assess communication skills to get you started:

  • How would you describe your communication style?
  • How do you build rapport with other people?
  • Can you tell me about a time you needed to communicate an issue at work, and how you went about doing so?
  • Can you tell me about a time you worked as part of a team for an important project? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
  • How would you describe yourself?

You’ll notice that not all of these questions are obviously about communication. But they all require your candidate to display their communication skills. The teamwork question should reveal how your candidate works with others—something they can’t do successfully without communicating. Asking an open-ended question wherein your candidate describes themselves also shows how they use their communication skills to give an idea of who they are.

If you’re left confused by a candidate’s answer to any of these communication skill questions, it’s a sign that their communication might not be up to scratch!

Communication skills are vital

Without high quality communication skills, your candidate is not going to perform well. They could be the best coder in the world: without communication skills, they won’t be able to work with their team and the wider organization. This makes it extra important that you flag any communication issues early on in the recruitment process, and that you hire people who are skilled and comfortable communicators.

HiPeople assessments offer an accurate and efficient way to assess the communication skill of every candidate, saving you time and providing trustworthy results. Book a demo today to work HiPeople’s communication assessments into your hiring funnel!