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Demonstrating Skills to Employers and Answering Common Interview Questions


In a lesson early in the program, we walked through the process of identifying your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. This was intended to provide valuable insight into how you can make the most of what you do well and identify areas that would be useful for you to keep learning. In the lessons on writing cover letters and resumes, you had the opportunity to build on that further, customizing your application materials to show your experience as it relates to a particular job posting. Even if you know what skills set you apart as a candidate, it can feel pretty overwhelming trying to ensure a potential employer also sees those skills when you’re face to face. In today’s lesson, you will prepare your answers ahead of time so you can deliver them more confidently in an interview.

Demonstrating Skills Before, During, and After the Interview​

Much like your resume or cover letter, you’re going to want to be prepared to customize your answers to the company you’re interviewing with. It’s much easier than it sounds, but it does require a little bit of preparation. When you’re getting ready for an interview, review the job posting. Just like you did when you were customizing your application materials, you’ll use this to focus on skills the company is requiring.

Let’s walk through an example to see what this looks like in action. We’re going to use β€œinterpersonal and communication skills” since it’s a pretty common requirement on job postings.

The most straightforward way to demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills is going to before, during, and after the interview where this could come into play.

First, let’s talk about what happens before the interview. You will likely already be done interacting with the interviewer before you get to this point, but you might have an email or phone call with them before the actual interview. Take extra care that your communication is clear, concise, and friendly. If you’re communicating in writing, check your grammar and spelling before sending that email off. Be sure to respond in a timely manner (i.e. within 24 hours).

When it’s time for your interview, you will have a number of opportunities to demonstrate your skills before the interviewer ever asks you a question about them. Some things to consider in this example would be to:

  • Proactively introduce yourself
  • Actively listen and ask clarifying questions when you’re not positive about what you’re being asked.
  • Use positive body language like smiling, making good eye contact, and sitting up straight.
  • Keep your answers clear and concise.
  • Adapt to your audience. This one can be a little tougher, but listen to how casual or formal your interviewer is in their side of the conversation and try to adjust for it.

Eventually, your interviewer will probably ask you directly about your communication skills. In the lesson you reviewed while preparing for mock interviews, we walked through the STAR method of answering questions. We’re going to use that as a jumping off place. Think about what real life examples from Epicodus or previous work experience you can use to demonstrate your communication skills.

Here’s where it might get tricky. Not every company is going to ask exactly the same question, and your example might not be a sufficient answer in every situation. After all, your answer when an interviewer prompts you to tell them β€œabout a time you had a misunderstanding with a colleague”, is probably going to be very different from the example you give if they ask you about a time you had to explain a complex idea to someone. It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research on the questions companies often ask to assess a particular skill and make sure you have at least a couple of examples you’re prepared to talk about.

Your last opportunity to demonstrate communication skills will be after the interview ends. Follow up with a quick thank you email to let them know you value their time and interest.

Not every skill is going to be quite as straightforward to demonstrate, but no matter what the company is asking for in their job description, you can use similar methods to prepare.