Advanced communication skills encourage new and repeat business, and also enhance your professional image and reputation. Since interviewers are aware of this, they will ask questions that dive into your experience using communication skills to advance your existing or past organization's goals.

Question 185. Give an example of a time when you worked with someone who had an accent.

situation: The restaurant business attracts people from different countries. As the manager for Knead's Eatery, I once worked with a French chef who came to the States specifically to work for us.

action: The chef was fluent in English, but at times her accent made it difficult to understand what she was saying. However, when I needed clarification, I simply asked for it. And, for that matter, so did she, since she was not familiar with American expressions.

result: We got along swimmingly. The language barrier was minimal, and when a problem arose, we discussed it easily.

Question 186. Describe an occasion when your communication style got you out of a tight situation.

situation: I was an assistant to the CEO of International Communications Company. My communication skills were tested every day; one day, the CEO asked me to make reservations at a restaurant that was known to have a three-month waiting list—an important client was in town and he wanted to show off.

action: Knowing that the restaurant would not have a table, I called anyway, hopeful that I could persuade the maitre d' to accommodate my boss. When I wasn't successful, I called a colleague whose manager had a standing reservation at the restaurant. At first she was hesitant to broach the subject with her boss, but I was persistent; I remained respectful, but pleaded with her and she came through for me.

result: The client and the CEO enjoyed a fabulous dinner. By the end of the night, the deal was locked up. That deal led to a long relationship with the client, and raised my value in the eyes of my employer.

Question 187. Recall a time when you did not communicate well. What were the results?

situation: Earlier in my career, I was assigned a project for which I was given minimal direction. Because I was green in the industry, I was unsure of where to start. My manager never asked if I had questions. Even though I was in over my head, I never let on and never asked for clarification.

action: I dived into the project without a clue of what to do. Because the project was on deadline, I worked on it at home, conducting research.

result: I met the deadline, but only with a tremendous amount of stress. As I have matured into my career, I have come to understand that asking questions is not a sign of vulnerability. I ask questions whenever necessary.

Question 188. Describe a situation when you had to tell someone bad news.

situation: When I was a manager for Process Improvements Incorporated, I had to announce the layoff of six people in my department. In my years in management, I had terminated employees for poor performance, but I never had to let people go because of a financial downswing.

action: I consulted an outplacement expert, who trained me on the type of employee reactions I should expect and how I should handle each situation. We did a few role-plays and I came up with a plan for how to deliver the news.

result: As difficult as it was to let employees go, I kept calm and effectively delivered the message to the displaced employees. The situation went off without a hitch.

Question 189. Tell me about a time when you used your presentation skills to influence a client.

situation: As the new account representative for Ballet Fashions, I was challenged to build strategic business relationships with senior executives in the fashion industry.

action: Through effective networking techniques, I landed the opportunity to present our offerings to the director of marketing for a major clothing distributor. I developed a PowerPoint presentation focusing on the features and benefits of our line.

result: I walked out of the meeting with a one-year contract in hand. And I was subsequently approached by team members to assist with their presentations.

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