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Ten. People Skills

Your understanding of people and what motivates them is a powerful attribute in the business world. "People skills" is a vague term that covers a broad range of interpersonal abilities, including how you treat others and how you expect to be treated. But it hinges on one very important talent—the ability to communicate well, whether you are buying and selling goods and services, or solving problems, or serving your fellow man.

For instance, knowing how to adjust your communication style to suit the personalities of customers or co-workers is an asset that interviewers will be looking for, especially through competency-based questions. So, how you react to the interviewer also will heavily influence that person's perception of your adaptability in the workplace. And being flexible is especially important in a global economy in which customers, clients, and business associates have many choices with whom to do business. The more pleasant you are to deal with, the more interest others will have in conducting business with you and the more benefit you will bring to the company you represent.

The fifth core competency is people skills, and those include a team orientation, an interest in customer service, and solid communications skills.

Team Orientation

Given that strong people skills are a basic ingredient of successful teamwork, interviewers will ask questions that reveal the following behaviors and values.

Question 161. Tell me about a situation in which you became aware of a serious mistake made by a colleague and what you did about it.

situation: A colleague uploaded a copyrighted article to the company's intranet site.

action: Through an e-mail message, I informed her that she needed to acquire permission from the copyright owner of the article. Otherwise we would be in violation of federal law.

result: Since the material was online for only a few hours, she was able to remove the article without consequence. Ultimately, she received permission to reprint it and reloaded the article onto the site.

Question 162. Describe an occasion when you believed in your company even when team members had lowered morale.

situation: Sunrise Nursing Home implemented a hiring freeze and all remaining employees were required to arrive earlier and leave later. Many resigned their positions in search of less stressful situations. Though I understood management's reasoning, I grew to love the residents in the nursing home. In addition, the home was ranked number three in the country, well known for its excellent programs. I took great pride in my work with the community members, so I decided to weather the storm and continue working there.

action: Without protesting, I did what was asked, including taking on double shifts when necessary.

result: The hiring freeze lasted well over a year, but staying on enabled me to build on that loyalty with management while also enjoying my good rapport with the residents.

Question 163. Describe a time when you were assigned a job-related task that you questioned.

situation: It was hurricane season in Florida, and though a statewide evacuation was called, I was required to report to work the day of an expected hurricane. In addition, I was mandated to sleep on the premises. I had family obligations, and I was concerned that something might happen to them while I was at work.

action: That said, I understood that part of my responsibility as utility engineer was to manage outages. As a result, I never shared my concerns with my manager.

result: Instead, when the lights went out, I focused my efforts on getting the town's power grid up and running, so the community could go back to normal as soon as possible.

 
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