There are many different styles of communication, and each style of communication has its own advantage. Interviewers use the “What is your communication style?” interview question to understand each candidate’s personal communication style to find the best fit for their company.
Here are 11 of the top different ways this question can be asked and how to present your own communication style effectively.
5 Tips for Your Answer
- Use your interview to demonstrate good communication skills and your communication style.
- Have confident body language and be aware of anything undesirable it might be communicating (such as moving in your chair too much conveys nervousness).
- Practice answering these interview questions and have your answers ready.
- Be ready to provide an example where you can describe a problem and how you resolved it well.
- Convey that you get along well with all types of communicators and enjoy working with people.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t assume the communication style that they are looking for. Just sell yourself for the role.
- Don’t ignore pre-interview small talk. It’s a core skill of great communicators.
- Don’t try too hard. For example, don’t let good eye contact become staring or intense eye contact.
- Don’t include just one communication style in your answer.
- Don’t be too aggressive or too passive in your interview communication.
11 Best Example Questions and Answers to “What is your communication style?”
Example Q&A #1: What is your communication style?
Everyone has different communication styles that they relate to, so I have learned various communication styles so that I can be more effective. I find the best way is to use the mirroring technique and try to match the other person’s preferred style of communication.
Personally, I prefer direct communication, but I try to be patient and use active listening skills so that I understand the other person’s point of view before I share my own opinions. I have been able to be an effective communicator by using this approach.
Key Takeaways: This answer is an effective catch-all answer for any question that directly asks what your personal style of communication is. This example not only answers the question, but it conveys your flexible approach which leads to working well with people regardless of their communication style.
Example Q&A #2: What do you do to deescalate a conflict with a customer?
When resolving conflict, I start by keeping the needs of others at the forefront of my mind. I focus on listening carefully to understand the customer’s true feelings. While I am doing that, I am mindful of my facial expressions and other body language so that they really know that I am listening.
I am an intuitive communicator, so whether I use a passive communication style or an assertive communication style depends on the personality type that I am dealing with. I use active listening to make sure they feel heard and discuss what their options are to resolve the issue. Even when I cannot resolve their complaint, I find this is an effective communication style to de-escalate most people from the point of conflict.
Key Takeaways: This answer highlights the ability to listen, and to intuitively adapt to the type of person you are talking to. It also shows that you understand that de-escalation does not always mean doing exactly what the customer wants.
Example Q&A #3: Give an example of a time that you had to explain a complex issue to a non-technical person. What did you do?
I once had to explain how a new system worked to my manager, who had to give a presentation. I am an analytical communicator, so I could easily identify the important information to explain to my manager. I broke the topic into small parts and used analogies to explain each part. After each part, I asked them to explain it back to me. In the end, I also asked them to explain the whole system to me in their own way. This made sure that they understood everything correctly.
Key Takeaways: This is a good answer in that it explains how you make information understandable and how to check that the information was understood.
Example Q&A #4: Have you ever had to tell someone something sensitive? How did you approach it?
Difficult conversations are a part of all jobs, and in a previous role, I had to reprimand someone. This person had an aggressive communication style, and I naturally have a passive communication style, so I exercised assertive behavior during our discussion. I explained that they could respond at the end, but they would need to hear me out first. I used the compliment sandwich method to reduce their negative reaction and show them that they are valued, and their contributions are recognized, but their negative behavior could not be accepted in the work environment.
Key Takeaways: The important thing in this answer is demonstrating your understanding of different communication styles and the use of interpersonal skills.
Example Q&A #5: Do you prefer written or verbal communication? Why?
Naturally, I am a functional communicator, so I focus on what gets the message across. When it comes to my communication preferences, adaptability is one of my most important skills. While I prefer verbal communication for its speed, efficiency, and directness, I like written communication for its traceability and accuracy.
I usually try to take the middle ground. By this I mean that I communicate verbally and follow up with an email or memo referencing the conversation. This is also one of the best subtle ways to keep difficult coworkers accountable and encourage better communication practices with team members.
Key Takeaways: This answer is good because it shows that you can use more than one communication mode and see the value in each.
Example Q&A #6: Is it important to be a good listener or a good speaker?
Both are important, but if I had to chose, I think being a good listener is the more important of the two. Good listeners need to avoid becoming passive. Passive communicators often understand the big picture but fail to share important insights.
In contrast, people who talk too much often talk at the expense of others and have a tendency to be aggressive communicators who put their personal needs first. Building meaningful connections and healthy relationships at work requires a balance of talking and listening.
Key Takeaways: This answer shows an understanding that there are strengths to talking and strengths to listening and that both are required for good communication.
Example Q&A #7: What was the most successful presentation you ever gave? Why was it successful?
I was once asked to provide a presentation at work. The topic and content were dry, and I was concerned that people would be bored. To be effective, I used high-quality visual aids that made use of color without being distracting. I spoke with energy and was excited about the content, without being loud or rushed.
I began by explaining to the audience how and why the content was useful to them and what benefits they would get. I also used the question-answer delivery style. By beginning by posing interesting questions about the topic, I engaged the audience’s brains’ natural desire to find answers. Based on the feedback, everyone was engaged and able to get a lot out of my presentation.
Key Takeaways: Presentations require a combination of skills to be demonstrated. If you are asked about presentation skills, it is important that you show an understanding of each core skill required.
Example Q&A #8: How do you respond to constructive criticism?
While I do not enjoy constructive criticism, I not only welcome it but I seek it out, for the simple reason that it helps me to grow. It rarely shakes me professionally because I have high self-esteem and know it will always be a genuine mistake. When I am corrected, I try to understand the cause of the problem in as much detail as possible to avoid the same mistake in the future. And I look at what new skills I can learn and find self-assessment tools that I can use to check my progress moving forward.
Key Takeaways: This answer welcomes constructive criticism in a believable and responsible way, looking for opportunities to grow and improve.
Example Q&A #9: Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to agree with your suggestion at work.
In a previous role, my manager and I disagreed about the solution to a project problem. We were both direct communicators, so I was able to be direct and talk about the facts. I explained that my career ambitions meant being successful was important to me, so I had researched solutions thoroughly. I presented similar industry cases using my approach.
I also explained that my idea would take them less effort, but when successful, they could still claim credit for a successful project and the related performance bonuses. By not attacking their solution and giving them a way to benefit from mine, I persuaded them to adopt my approach.
Key Takeaways: It is always a good idea to avoid sounding manipulative when discussing persuasion. Instead, explain how you make your preferred action desirable to the other person without creating conflict.
Example Q&A #10: How do you fix a communication breakdown between yourself and a colleague?
In one of my old jobs, a coworker and I had a disagreement that spiraled out of hand, and they would only communicate with me in a passive-aggressive style; it had a huge impact on the team. Rather than argue, I chose to adopt a submissive communication style when approaching them about our issue.
I apologized for our conflict and said that I wanted to put the company and customers first. I asked them for reasonable ways they would like me to communicate and work with them in the future. By owning the disharmony, I was able to approach them without them becoming defensive, and we were able to work out our problem.
Key Takeaways: This answer shows an ability to be politely amiable with a coworker to solve disagreements and put the company’s needs first.
Example Q&A #11: How do you make sure that you haven’t misunderstood instructions?
I use active listening as my main way to make sure I have understood instructions. I repeat what the instructions are meant to solve, to make sure I understand the goal. Then I repeat each instruction in my own way and make sure I got each step right. I also write down the instructions and ask my manager to confirm if they are correct. Writing them down locks them into my memory while helping to make sure I’ve gotten it right.
Key Takeaways: This example illustrates the use of multi-modal communication (writing, asking questions, and active listening) to learn a new skill and make sure it is retained correctly.
There are assertive communicators, passive-aggressive communicators, manipulative communicators, and other types as well. Regardless of your primary communication style, it is critical to successful work and interpersonal relationships to be familiar with several types of communication styles. You will meet many types of communicators in your workplace, and professional success requires effective communication.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.