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Assessing the Candidate: Interpersonal Skills

Do you have a lone gunman or a team player?

Once you’ve assessed where a candidate’s motivation comes from, their ambition and self-esteem, it’s time to see if they have the tools in their tool box to get the job done. In this case, you’re looking for how well they work with others and if their abilities will work on your team.

So now we move to a question that is commonly asked, “How would others describe your interpersonal style in the workplace?”

Don’t get me wrong, this is an oldie but a goodie, and there is definitely value in the answer to this question.  This question will give you insight into their interpersonal skills, but more importantly it paves the way for one of my favorites, “Tell me about a time when you had to manage your manager” which can be another floodgate of information.  This answer will tell you if you are looking at a team player, a self-starter, a lone-gunman or a future manager.

Do they claim to have managed every one of their managers?  That’s your lone gunman who presently would be best utilized working in a department of one.

Or have they never once been in that situation?  This candidate might make a great team player but will probably require quite a lot of close management.

What was the reason they felt they had to step in?  Was it the manager’s incompetence or that the candidate knew what needed to be done and felt the responsibility to help?  The one who claims incompetence might be lacking the ability to see the big picture or hasn’t developed empathy for his/her superiors, but would probably be a great self-starter on a team.  The candidate who feels driven to step in, even when it was the responsibility of his or her manager, has serious management potential and good team skills.

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