Interpersonal Skills Test for Employers: Assessment to Hire the Best

Use this interpersonal skills test to weed out problem employees before you hire them.

It’s hard to think of a single attribute that causes more widespread issues than problems with interpersonal skills. It’s frustrating — and regrettably common — to hire someone with the exact technical background you’ve been looking for, only to discover they have serious trouble collaborating with others and have alienated virtually everyone on the team.

Too often, extremely capable and even brilliant employees are sabotaged by unfortunate interpersonal problems. These can show up in the workplace as conflicts, lack of integrity, inability to “play nicely” with team members, or plain old disagreeable behavior that should have been sorted out in grade school.

Unfortunately, if you don’t get a handle on interpersonal problems, they tend to spread. Other employees assume dysfunctional behavior is acceptable. New hires adopt the problem attitudes already present in the organization.

Yet — Yale research shows that companies that hire specifically for interpersonal skills have higher revenue and are more successful overall.

How to break the cycle? A pre-employment interpersonal skills test can provide valuable insights when screening new candidates. How easily (or badly) will a new hire fit into your organization? Using such tools lets analytics replace hunches. As the saying goes, “Hope is not a strategy.” An interpersonal skills quiz is easy to administer, with plenty of support provided, and can be used in interview settings.

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Job candidate taking an interpersonal skills test

Use the interpersonal skills test below to screen your candidates or let The Hire Talent do it for you. The test will screen for interpersonal skills, problem solving, interpersonal communication and other skills, to prequalify your job candidates automatically.

What Is an Interpersonal Skills Test?

An interpersonal skills test is a means of assessing how well an individual interacts with others. It’s a reliable analytical tool to measure attributes critical to career and company success, such as effective communication, integrity, ability to work in a team, and ability to deal with conflict.

Such a test can be extremely valuable, helping you sort out the Shooter McGavins from the Happy Gilmores in your applicant pool. This can help avoid painful, costly and organization-disrupting hiring mistakes.

Interpersonal Skills Assessment

Here’s a list of 10 interpersonal skills test examples, with questions and answers. The objective is to provide insightful, statistically reliable questions that let you assess a candidate’s interpersonal abilities. Ultimately, this can help determine their emotional makeup and “fit.”

Correct answers are highlighted.

1. Which of the following isn’t a real lead type?

  1. Suggest that she buy another one of your products instead, since you know of a newer product with a better reputation.
  2. Listen thoughtfully to her concerns, then repeat back what you heard in your own words. Assure the customer that you understand the issue and will do your best to help.
  3. Speak sternly to the customer, as she has been very rude to you, and it is important to show confidence in your brand.
  4. Apologize to the customer, and ask what you can do to resolve the problem if the solution is not obvious.
  5. Be polite but never admit fault, since that could get the company into a legal situation.

Answer: B. Customer complaints and problems are best handled via active listening and an earnest attempt to correct the problem. This attitude should be communicated early in the interaction.

2. How rude is it to not return a message when a team member has left you a voicemail on a current project?

  1. Not rude at all, as voicemails are an outdated way of communicating.
  2. Very rude, as it’s important to maintain close communication with team members.
  3. It doesn’t matter much, since you’ll probably see the person at the next team meeting anyway.
  4. Somewhat rude, but most people will understand that people get busy and make mistakes.
  5. It’s only rude if the other person always returns every voicemail they receive.

Answer: D. There are different levels of rudeness. This interpersonal skills test question assesses not only whether the applicant understands this, but also that they’re not too easily offended.

3. If you see a person stealing money from your company, what’s the first thing you should do?

  1. Nothing, it’s best not to get involved – work is just work, not some sort of integrity test.
  2. Stop them immediately, physically confronting them if you have to.
  3. It doesn’t really matter – the company will hardly know it’s gone.
  4. Let your manager know, so she or he can take appropriate action.
  5. Call the police immediately. A crime is a matter for the proper authorities.

Answer: D. It’s important to prevent theft in the workplace without going to extremes. This interpersonal skills question examines a candidate’s ethics and judgment. Stealing money is serious, so a person should address it, not ignore it. However, a physical confrontation would not be appropriate.

4. How impolite is it to interrupt someone while they are speaking during a meeting?

  1. It’s no big deal. People do it all the time.
  2. Somewhat impolite, but most people will understand if it isn’t repeated.
  3. It’s not impolite if you have something better to say.
  4. It depends on whether the person speaking has a higher rank than you in the company.
  5. Very impolite.

Answer: B. It’s rude to interrupt someone, but not incredibly rude. As long as someone doesn’t habitually interrupt others, most people with good interpersonal skills will understand and let it go.

5. If a coworker is constantly gossiping to you about other employees, what is the best way to respond?

Sales Skills Test For Employers
  1. Join the conversation. It’s good to be friendly with coworkers.
  2. Ignore them.
  3. Politely let them know that gossip is bad for company morale.   
  4. Don’t join in the gossip, but listen politely so you don’t offend them.
  5. Listen politely for a moment, but don’t engage in the gossip yourself. Then change the subject.

Answer: E. Gossip damages work relationships, and should be politely discouraged. This interpersonal skills test question examines a candidate’s ability to act intelligently in uncomfortable situations.

6. If a coworker criticizes you, what’s the best way to respond?

  1. It depends on the situation. If the criticism is constructive, listen to what they have to say and consider making changes.
  2. It depends on the situation. If the criticism isn’t helpful, politely change the subject.
  3. Ignore it unless they know you well.
  4. Listen politely and try not to let it bother you.
  5. Take it to heart. Criticism is always constructive and needs to be incorporated in your work life to make you better.

Answer: A. The ability to listen to criticism, judge it, and act on it if necessary is crucial to workplace success. This interpersonal skills assessment question reveals whether an employee is thin-skinned or set in their ways.

7. If you notice two people on your team in a heated argument, what is the first thing you should do?

  1. Get away from the situation as quickly as possible so you don’t make things worse.
  2. Try to understand what the argument is about, so you can help constructively resolve it.
  3. Try to understand what the argument is about, so you can find out who is right and who is wrong.
  4. Help to break it up immediately.
  5. Arguments happen, so it’s best to shrug it off.

Answer: B. Workplace confrontations are unavoidable, and should be faced calmly and with understanding, rather than avoided.

8. When you see that a friend of yours at work is upset because their boss was angry at them, what is the best way for you to act toward your friend?

Sales Skills Test For Employers
  1. Stay out of it, since whatever has occurred between your friend and their boss is not your concern.
  2. Listen to what they have to say, but avoid getting caught in the middle of this dispute.
  3. Ask them some questions about what happened and then offer your best advice.
  4. Only give advice to your friend if you really know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, suggest they seek advice from someone who is more qualified in workplace confrontations.
  5. Let your friend know you will support them no matter what has happened.

Answer: D. Active listening and support help build workplace relationships. This interpersonal ability test question checks to see if the candidate can be supportive without adding fuel to the fire.

9. What is the best way to deal with someone who constantly tries to take all the credit in daily department updates?

  1. Confront them about it to correct the problem.
  2. Speak up in the next department update to make sure people know there are numerous employees who deserve credit. 
  3. Ignore them and go about your own business.
  4. Speak up in the next department update to let everyone know that some people take too much credit. 
  5. All of the above will work equally well.

Answer: B. In this case, it’s just as effective (and kinder) to give kudos where they’re due rather than trying to confront a credit hog.

10. When a colleague is anxious because she’s heard a reorganization could affect her job, how does that make you feel?

  1. I feel bad for her.
  2. As long as it’s not my job, I don’t really care.
  3. It’s unfortunate, but companies will do what they have to do.
  4. Awful. No company should treat someone this way.
  5. I'll say something to help cheer her up. 

Answer: A. Although several of the above answers may be true, this interpersonal skill test question is asking specifically about feelings. It checks to see if the candidate understands how they feel, and has a caring attitude toward others.

How to Test Applicants for Interpersonal Skills

Sales Skills Test For Employers

To use the employment interpersonal skills test questions above, administer them through a user-friendly interface, before the interview process starts. When testing is conducted sight unseen like this, interviewer bias is removed, and your team can make accurate judgements based on true ability.

It’s also important to collect and store responses securely to avoid a data breach, and score them accurately using a consistent rubric. Finally, ensure that each role you’re hiring for has been thoroughly researched against the test you use. Though the interpersonal skills assessment questions above are an excellent free sample, the version you’ll use through The Hire Talent’s assessment testing library has been deeply researched against a broad range of positions.

How We Created Our Interpersonal Skills Test

Our interpersonal skills test was developed based on best practices for candidate assessment, then administered to large sample groups to verify that it reliably measures critical interpersonal skills factors. This was done by comparing it to other proven tools and conducting thorough statistical analyses.

The questions were then adjusted based on these results, and the test was further analyzed to ensure freedom from bias. Finally, the results were compared to real-world job performance outcomes. The test was thus thoroughly validated for multiple roles at all organizational levels.

Benefits of Interpersonal Skills Testing

Sales Skills Test For Employers

You don’t have to work long in management to realize how important it is to hire employees with good interpersonal skills. Over the course of my decades in business I came to the realization there was no single quality I valued more. An interpersonal test for new hires offers numerous substantive benefits. It can:

  • Remove bias
  • Predict job performance
  • Increase ROI
  • Decrease time to hire
  • Increase retention
  • Lower hiring costs

Why Are Interpersonal Skills Important in the Workplace? 

Sales Skills Test For Employers

Interpersonal skills are important because these qualities — especially the ability to work constructively and productively with others — are frequently overlooked during the hiring process. Specific technical skills are considerably easier to show on a resume and often take center stage.

An interpersonal assessment for new hires can help you avoid hiring the next Dennis Nedry or Bill Lumbergh.

Pro Tip: Hiring employees with solid problem solving skills can save you from endless handholding. See our problem solving skills test too.

What Roles Need Interpersonal Skills?

Virtually all jobs require some degree of interpersonal skills, but roles involving management and/or high levels of teamwork are especially vulnerable to employees with poor social skills. Here are a few examples:

  • Managers
  • Supervisors
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • EMTs
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Lawyers
  • Salespeople
  • Sales managers
  • Dentists
  • Therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Professors
  • Teachers
  • Marketing specialists
  • Customer service representatives
  • Event planners

Summary

Interpersonal skills are often dismissively called “soft,” but the reality is, soft skills can be hard to find and are vital to a company’s day-to-day efficiency and productivity. A well-constructed pre-employment interpersonal skills test can be an effective means to find the very best candidates to strengthen your organization.