Skill Interview Questions

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Skill Interview Questions

Distinguishing truly qualified candidates from those who simply appear qualified on paper can be a challenge for employers today. Tools like ChatGPT have allowed quick rewrites of resumes and cover letters to replicate job descriptions and trick AI-sourcing software into thinking a candidate is more qualified than they may actually be.

This evolution has shifted the modern Marketplace to skills-based interviews. A skill-based interview is a type of interview that focuses on analyzing specific skills and competencies required for a particular role. Skill interview questions take a more nuanced approach to identifying the right candidate and assessing their potential for success on the job.

Unlike traditional interviewing methods that often skim the surface of a candidate's past experiences to assess potential, skill interview questions dig deeper to uncover the applicant's practical capabilities and ability to integrate into the team and company culture.

Let's look at an example of skills-based interview questions vs. traditional interview questions when applied to the topic of communication. Communication is core to successful business operations today. A great team member should be able to collaborate with other teams, clearly articulate ideas, generate feedback from customers, provide (and receive) constructive feedback, and present to different audiences. We would call these "soft skills."

Communication skill interview questions:

  • Can you give an example of a time when you effectively communicated with a team member to resolve a conflict? How did your communication style contribute to the successful outcome?
  • In your opinion, what is the key factor for effective communication in a team environment? How do you ensure everyone is on the same page?
  • Have you ever had to deliver bad news to a customer or client? How did you handle the situation, and what was the outcome?

Traditional interview questions for communication:

  • Describe your communication style.
  • How do you handle difficult conversations with team members?
  • Have you ever given a presentation? Can you give an example and describe how it went?

The skill-based interview questions and behavioral interview questions mirror one another well in that they look at an applicant's past performance and experiences to understand critical thinking skills, learning agility, problem-solving methods, or in this case communication skills.

Another way of covering these topics in the interview is by using soft-skills interview questions. These questions can assess things like emotional intelligence, personality, leadership qualities, and resilience. Which are powerfully additive in today's unpredictable workplace.

Soft skills such as empathy, adaptability, and conflict resolution have become just as important—if not more so—than technical abilities. Many Senior Recruiters and thought leaders will tell you, "Hire for Culture, Train for Skills." This is not to say technical skills should be overlooked entirely, but they should only be one factor on the candidate scorecard.

We're going to move on to leadership in the next section, integrating skill interview questions, communication skill interview questions, and soft skills interview questions into your evaluation process can give you a far more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's true potential. That's why we've built it into our interview intelligence as a primary assessment mechanism. More on that in a bit.

Leadership Skill Interview Questions

The heart of an effective leader seeks to serve, inspire, guide, mentor, and grow everyone under their care. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting the former CEO of LensCrafters before Luxottica took them over. At lunch, he was talking about principles that took the company from just a few stores to a more than 1.4B buyout. After accepting the role in the early 90s and seeing how the business was run, he decided to turn the org chart on its head. As the CEO, he moved himself to the very bottom of the pyramid with the goal of serving his team so well that the company had no option but to grow. He increased compensation, empowered store managers, and implemented new training and bonus structures to incentivize even the greenest employees. He promoted diversity and entrusted people with what he knew they were capable of, sometimes before they even knew they could do it. More than anything he believed in his people- he trusted them.

We see this at the heart of every great leader. The ability to inspire, guide, mentor, and make critical decisions, especially when circumstances seem to be challenging or chaotic. A great leader will set a clear vision for their team and actively engage in overcoming challenges with them. They're there to provide both direction and support.

These traits seem to describe the leader we all aspire to become, yet (if we're honest) match hardly any leader we've ever worked for, right? That's because leadership is essentially a balancing act between soft and hard skills, technical abilities, and purposeful vision- and knowing when to use each is where "the rubber meets the road."

For this reason, leadership skill interview questions should assess not only communication (soft skills) and technical abilities (hard skills) but also, vision, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Here are some examples to serve as a baseline to help you craft your own.

Problem-solving skills interview questions:

  • Give an example of a complex problem you had to solve in the past. How did you approach it, and what was the outcome?
  • How do you prioritize tasks when faced with multiple competing priorities?
  • Can you walk us through your decision-making process when faced with an unexpected challenge or setback?

Technical-skill interview questions (let's use a Chief Operations Officer (COO) for example):

  • Describe a time when you had to implement a significant operational change in an organization. What strategies did you employ to ensure successful implementation and adoption across the company?
  • How do you leverage technology to improve operational efficiency and productivity? Can you provide a specific example of a technology implementation you led or were involved in?
  • In your experience, what are the key metrics for assessing operational performance, and how do you monitor and act on these metrics?

Skill-based interview questions and answers will help you frame real-world problems or situations that an applicant may face in the role and assess their ability to think critically and problem-solve effectively to reach company objectives. If you'd like to see more questions like this, we offer an interview questions generator that's perfect to help you shorten interview prep times. Simply click here, paste your job description into the text field, and we'll email you a comprehensive structured interview guide with questions in less than 5 minutes!

Use Of Skill Interview Questions In Different Industries

Now that we've given you a high-level overview of skills-based interview questions for communication and leadership, let's talk about how they apply to different industries. In industry, the workforce spans a range (or spectrum) from generalists to specialists. Generalists usually have skills that are applicable to various industries, while specialists have not only a deep understanding of their specific field but also, a core skill required to do a specific role. Skills-based interviews can be beneficial for both types of candidates.

The use of skill interview questions in different industries plays a critical role in helping you identify the right candidate for any given role. This could include the intricate technical positions occupied by software engineers or the strategic and leadership-focused roles of executive-level managers. For instance, in the tech industry, a software engineer might be asked to solve coding problems on the spot or discuss algorithms, highlighting their technical competence and problem-solving skills. On the other hand, managerial positions may lean more towards behavioral interview questions for managers. These questions will help you understand their ability to navigate team conflicts, manage projects under tight deadlines, or motivate teams toward achieving business goals.

Additionally, organizational skill interview questions are universally valued across all industries but require a tailored approach to meet the specific requirements of each role. For example, in a fast-paced startup environment, organizational questions might focus on remote work, multitasking, and prioritization, while in more structured corporate settings, the emphasis could be on process improvement and strategic planning.

In closing, before using skill-based interview questions, you'll need to have a deep understanding of the role and the industry as well as the unique challenges and opportunities that come with both. Unlike traditional interviews which rely more on gut feelings, skills-based interviews are about creating a standardized, objective, and fair process that assesses a person's fit for your organization based on their abilities, not personal traits. This nuanced approach ensures that companies not only hire the best people for today, but also those who can grow with the organization into the future. With the rapid adoption of technology, and the speed at which we're innovating, the companies that survive and even thrive will have to adapt to dynamic market conditions- and a selective blend of technical, behavioral, and organizational questions can help you identify the right candidates to help you do so.

If you're struggling to find the best people for your team and you'd like to see how interview intelligence can help you make better hires faster, book a demo of Pillar today!