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How to Identify Candidates with Strong Relationship-Building Skills

In a tech-dominated world that provides seemingly limitless communication channels, interacting with coworkers, direct reports, customers, and business partners has changed dramatically. Communication in our working life occurs in a blizzard of emails, instant messages, Zoom calls, or brief in-person meetings or interactions. But are these unstructured, technology-driven micro-communications building strong workplace relationships? Benefits of Workplace Relationship Building

Almost all jobs require interaction with others. Positive work relationships have a range of benefits for a team and a company. Some of the main benefits of good working relationships are:

  • Building trust

  • Enhancing leadership and communication effectiveness

  • Increasing individual and team productivity

  • Boosting morale and employee engagement

  • Strengthening customer retention and satisfaction

  • Creating bonds for mentorship, learning, and growth

  • Developing professional networks

What are relationship-building skills?

Relationship-building skills are a combination of soft skills that a person applies to make connections with others and form positive relationships. In the workplace, relationship-building skills are essential for collaboration, cross-functional engagement, connecting with customers, contributing to a team, and building shared understanding or consensus.

Relationship-building skills generally encompass a mix of soft skills that all contribute to the way you interact with others. Good relationship building skills encompass the following competencies:

  • Verbal communication – Showing interest and asking questions

  • Nonverbal communication – Body language and ability to read others’ emotions

  • Listening – Active listening, taking notes, and showing interest

  • Empathy – Connecting personally with others and showing genuine concern and care for people

  • Self-awareness – Understanding how your words and actions affect and influence others

Interview Questions for Identifying Relationship-Building Skills

Here are a few legally reviewed behavioral interview questions that will help you in your next round of interviews with candidates to identify their relationship building skills.

  • “Give a specific example of a time when you had to address an angry customer or coworker. What was the problem and what was the outcome? How would you assess your role in resolving the situation?”

  • “Tell me about a time when you could not build a successful relationship with a coworker.”

  • “Describe a situation where you built rapport quickly with someone under difficult conditions.”

  • “What do you believe are the key ingredients in building and maintaining successful work relationships? Give examples of how you make these work for you.”

  • “Describe the best working relationship you have built in your career with a coworker and/or customer. Who was the person? What were the key factors in your ability to build and maintain such a strong relationship?”


People are essential in every area of business, and with people, connecting personally and building strong relationships is crucial to individual and team success. Your company and your team will benefit from hiring candidates with the skill to build strong relationships with others. As we depend more and more on digital communication, relationship-building skills will be in high demand but in short supply.


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