You are here

We asked Paul Sayers, Aboriginal Recruitment Consultant at Hydro One Networks, for tips on how to answer a key question that comes up in interviews. He not only gave us an answer, but also 5 great tips to help you develop good people skills.

Describe a specific situation when you built a good working relationship with others?

The ability to create and maintain successful working relationshipsis an essential component of success in any job. However, people skills do not come naturally or easily to all people. Although work experience and education are two critical criteria in obtaining a position, increasingly it is the personality of the candidate that sets them apart from their competitors and successfully lands them the job.

Relationship building is important for numerous reasons, but in the workplace it's a valuable skill to have in everyday dealings with co-workers, and equally important if your job requires you to work with external clients.

This is one of my favourite questions because it allows me to gauge how a candidate interacts with people, how they would work on a team and how their relationship building process works. It is an immediate indicator of a candidate's personality since those who are people persons tend to respond in a reasonable amount of time and have numerous life experiences to pull from to answer this question. Candidates who struggle with this question tend to lack a proper response or sit in uncomfortable silence.

I've seen several candidates go into a tailspin in a job interview because they struggle with this question. However, if people skills are not your strong point, here are 5 tipsto remember if you want to develop this skill:

  • Be open and friendly to everyone. Treat others the way you like to be treated. It's simple, but effective.

  • Be yourself but remember to keep it within a professional context.

  • Become a good listener". People skills are not only about being an effective communicator, but also about really listening to what a coworker or business contact is saying. Effective two way communication is the end result if all parties involved are engaged and really listening to what the other person is saying.

  • Find out if your school offers public speaking workshops or clubs, and sign up and join. It is proven that active participation in these groups leads to improved communication skills.

  • Maintain semi-regular contact with co-workers and business clients who are not a part of your everyday work day. A short email to touch base with them every few months says that you value them as a colleague/client. This will always be beneficial especially if there is a possibility that you may work more closely with them in the future.

These are some of the tips that have worked for me and guided me throughout my career. Remember, when you are applying for a position, your competition may have an equivalent level of experience and education, but in an increasingly competitive job market, a person with exceptional interpersonal skills will walk away with the job.