Communication skills are vital for success in many fields, but determining whether a job candidate possesses the desired abilities can be a challenge. Learning effective interviewing techniques and qualities to look for can help you decide if an applicant has the personality and experience required to communicate clearly, correctly and effectively.
Watch Body Language
Effective communicators strive to make eye contact, as they know that doing so allows them to ensure they have their audience's attention and to watch for nonverbal cues from the other party as well. Someone with good communication skills is less likely to fidget, become distracted, or present disrespectful behavior such as eye-rolling or yawning while someone else is speaking. Watch for applicants who maintain appropriate eye contact and whose actions display interest in what you have to say.
Ask Diagnostic or Comparative Questions
Diagnostic or comparative questions require answers that compare items or provide judgment. Not only can these questions help you discern an applicant's knowledge in your field or of the specific position, but they can also aid in determining communication skills. For instance, you might ask, "Which is more important in the workplace: teamwork or diversity?" While there may not be a right or wrong response, the clarity of a candidate's answer can display his ability or inability to communicate.
Note Response Styles
The four communication styles are passive, aggressive, assertive and passive-aggressive. Good communicators will typically respond in an assertive manner, which means they convey their thoughts and opinions clearly, honestly and respectfully. Assertive communicators recognize their own value as well as importance of others. People who seem extremely timid, easily become defensive, or present a combination of these response types, may struggle to communicate effectively both in their personal and professional relationships.
Consider the Interview as a Whole
Even excellent communicators have bad days or nervous moments when they make mistakes or simply aren't on top of their game. If your overall impression of an applicant is positive and you have obtained outstanding references but the interview didn't go as well as you had hoped, look over everything the person has to offer. Make a phone call to clear up or solidify any misgivings you have or request a follow-up interview that might help you come to a firm decision.