Article author: Artem Mikhailov
IT is an area where communication skills are key to career success. In today’s rapidly changing reality, IT employees must adapt flexibly to new requirements and respond quickly to changes inside and outside the organization. In addition, IT employees must constantly work to improve the quality of communication both within the team and with customers and partners. Of course, technical knowledge and skills are also extremely important, but communication skills can be an excellent gap between those who achieve success and those who face difficulties in their careers.
In this article, we will explore how to effectively assess the communication skills of potential employees and why it is so important for a successful career in IT.
Why is assessing a candidate’s communication skills important?
The manifestation of communication skills directly affects the candidate’s ability to work effectively in a team. Working in a team requires specific skills, such as the ability to listen, interact, persuade, justify one’s point of view and a tacit perception of common goals, which is no less important than technical knowledge and work experience.
The ability to listen and listen to others is an integral part of communication skills. This quality helps the team to tune in to a common mood and, as a result, accelerate the achievement of goals. The ability to communicate effectively with complex customers, the ability to competently and timely transfer information among team members, and the ability to manage your time and priorities also play a big role in effective work in IT.
Communication skills play a key role in sensitive work processes, including in international teams. Here you need the ability to build effective communication strategies, the ability to find a common language and solve problems effectively.
Moreover, candidates with good communication skills are generally considered valuable resources to the organization, display strong professional etiquette, and interact with clients and colleagues with a high level of respect.
If an employee does not pay attention to the opinions of others, or vice versa, dominates communication, this can lead to conflicts. Also, if a person cannot clearly and competently express his thoughts, this can lead to misunderstanding and divergence in the interpretation of information with other participants in communication. These are just some examples of poor communication skills that can negatively impact IT jobs.
How to evaluate a candidate’s communication skills
There are several methods for assessing these skills. One of the most effective is to ask unexpected questions to the candidate and understand how well the candidate is able to demonstrate empathy and find a common language.
The essence of this method is to ask unexpected and non-standard questions for which the candidate will not be ready. This helps to assess his level of reaction speed, flexibility of thinking, ability to quickly switch from one task to another. In addition, questions can be aimed at assessing empathy and the ability to find a common language with the interlocutor.
An example of using this method might look like the following. For example, a candidate is asked the question: “How would you tell a five-year-old child about how your pet project works, which you showed us in your resume?”. The answer to such a question is non-standard and requires not only knowledge about the company, but also the ability to present information in simple language and find an approach to different audiences. What matters is not so much the answer itself, but the approach that the candidate chooses when formulating his answer. This method helps to evaluate not only the candidate’s communication skills, but also his level of preparation and expressiveness.
Another method of assessing communication skills is practical tasks that allow you to assess the level of communication of a candidate in a real situation. The method of assessing communication skills through practical tasks is to provide the candidate for the vacancy with tasks that he will have to perform in a team environment. This approach allows you to assess the level of communication, the ability to work in a team and solve problems together with other project participants.
An example of tasks can be: coordinating a project task with other participants, exchanging ideas and proposals for a project, as well as discussing problems that have arisen and their solutions together with the team. Evaluation criteria can be: the effectiveness of communication, the ability to listen and build arguments, compliance with deadlines and rules of interaction in a team.
This method is effective in that it allows you to assess not only the knowledge and skills of the candidate, but also his ability to work in a team and in the workplace. At the same time, it should be taken into account that this technique requires a sufficiently large amount of time and resources to conduct and evaluate tasks.
The third method is the analysis of the candidate’s social profiles. The method of analyzing the candidate’s social profiles is to study his activity, as well as his interaction with other users. With the help of such an analysis, it is possible to assess the candidate’s communication style, his ability for a constructive dialogue, the manifestation of empathy and tolerance.
For example, when analyzing the social profiles of a candidate, you can pay attention to the following factors:
How often the candidate publishes posts and comments, and what nature they have.
What topics the candidate prefers to discuss and how he expresses his thoughts.
How often the candidate communicates with other users and what degree of emotional involvement he shows in communication.
It is important to note that the use of this method has its own risks and limitations, as information on social media may be incomplete and unreliable, as well as problems with the confidentiality and protection of the candidate’s personal data. However, the analysis of a candidate’s social profiles is an effective tool for assessing his communication skills and can be used in combination with other candidate assessment methods.
Specific questions to ask a candidate to assess their communication skills
One of the most effective ways to measure a candidate’s communication skills is to identify specific questions, the answers to which should allow one to judge how well the candidate is able to communicate and work in a team.
For example, one of the first questions a candidate might be asked is “Tell us about a project you’ve managed and how you’ve interacted with team members.” Here it is important to pay attention to how clearly and understandably the candidate can describe his role in the project and how he worked with other team members.
Another option is to ask the question: “How do you resolve conflicts with your colleagues?”. This question will help to understand how successfully the candidate is able to find compromises and work as a team member, and not just as a leader, you can also ask him to give examples of such conflicts.
A few more questions:
How do you convince your team to meet deadlines? A question that will determine how successfully the candidate is able to motivate and organize their colleagues and pay attention to important deadlines and actions.
“Tell me about a time when you had to convince a client?” This question will help you understand how well the candidate is able to build relationships with clients and solve difficult situations using their communication skills.
“How do you simplify complex technology project concepts for managers?”. Determining how well a candidate can tie technical concepts to business realities is an important part of being successful in IT.
“How do you communicate with colleagues who do not speak your language?”. A question that will help to understand how well the candidate is able to work in a multicultural environment and communicate effectively with all team members, regardless of their language.
“How do you convince clients that your project is the best solution for their business?”. A question that will determine how well the candidate is able to sell and position their ideas and solutions using their communication skills.
How to develop communication skills in a team?
There are many methods that can be used to develop communication skills.
First of all, it is necessary to train employees in the field of presenting their ideas, identifying and solving problems in a team, and effective communication techniques.
The control and monitoring of the communication process is also an important aspect. Regular exchange of information, brief and effective briefings, as well as various events where each member of the team can prove himself.
It is also recommended not to forget about the periodic assessment of the level of communication skills in order to continue to apply and modify the methods already implemented, taking into account the results: after all, effective communication is a continuous process that requires constant improvement.
Assessment of communication skills is an integral part of the selection and assessment of the professional qualities of employees in the IT field. This has a direct impact on the work of the team and its effectiveness. It must be remembered that communication skills are not only the ability to speak, but also to listen, understand and find a common language with colleagues and customers. It is important to note that communication skills can be formed and developed, so companies and employees should focus their efforts on developing and improving them in order to increase their professional effectiveness and improve the work of the entire team.
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