How to Interview for Human Relations Skills

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
Okay, we got integrity, customer care and individual initiative. The last value we want to interview for is our people. By that, I mean respect for others, support for others, collaboration and cooperation.

Response:
Same model as the past couple of days, interviewing for an attitude, a characteristic or soft skill.

  1. Identify the behavior connected to the attitude or characteristic.
  2. Identify a circumstance where we might see that behavior.
  3. Develop questions about the behavior.

Your description identifies some behavioral things, like collaboration, cooperation and support. That’s a good start. Your team can likely come up with more related behaviors to the value you have in mind.

Connected behaviors

  • Collaboration, or cooperation on a team
  • Support for another teammate
  • Respect for a manager, or respect for another team mate

Behavior – Collaboration or cooperation in a team.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that required multiple steps and multiple people to solve a problem?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the problem?
  • How many steps involved?
  • How many people on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • To solve the problem, how did the team have to work together?
  • When the team worked well together, what happened?
  • When the team did not work well together, what happened?
  • When the team did not work well together, what was the impact on the project?
  • How did the team know when it was working well together and not so well together?
  • When the team did not work well together, what did it do to start working better together? What steps were taken? What was said?

Behavior – Supporting another teammate.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where another team member was taking the lead, but some team members disagreed with the work method or sequence of work?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose (goal, objective) of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • What was the leader’s role on the project team?
  • What was the disagreement about?
  • What words were said?
  • Which side of the disagreement were you on?
  • How was the situation resolved?

Behavior – Respect for a manager, or respect for another team mate.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where you disagreed with the manager about a work method or sequence of work?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project team?
  • What was the disagreement about?
  • How did you approach the disagreement?
  • What words were said?
  • How was the situation resolved?

You can interview for any attitude, characteristic or soft skill, as long as you can connect it to behaviors.

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