Interview Question: Using Written Communication Skills to Convince Others

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: December 05, 2022
Describe A Time Where You Used Written Communication To Prove A Point

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Many behavioral interview questions are used by hiring managers in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the job candidates they are interviewing. One of these questions is, “Describe a time when you had to use your written communication skills to get an important point across.” Behavioral questions are different from other types of interview questions because they require a real example from your previous work experience that indicates you possess a certain skill. With this particular question, an interviewer wants to know that you have effective written communication prowess. This is your opportunity to highlight a specific moment in your work history where you wrote something to someone or a group of people to deliver a point.

The reason why this is asked as opposed to something such as “Can you write well?” is that a behavioral question requires a real story, whereas the other question can be answered with a simple “Yes.” Other similar questions include, “Talk about a time when you communicated effectively.” Behavioral questions tend to be a little more difficult to answer, but if you answer them well, then you have a much better chance of standing out in the interviewer’s mind. Follow these tips and the STAR method, and you will be much more prepared to tackle any communication question.

How to Answer the ‘Describe a Time When You had to Use Your Written Communication Skills to Get an Important Point Across’ Behavioral Interview Question

1. Specify Why Written Communication Was the Best Method

Some people are better at face-to-face interactions while other people are better at writing things down. If you are asked this question, then you can be reasonably certain communicating through writing will be an integral part of the position. In whatever story you choose to tell with these types of behavioral interview questions, you should make it clear why written communication was the preferable method in that circumstance. Perhaps you needed to get something across to dozens of people and could not reasonably be expected to get them all in the same room at the same time. You would not want to describe a time when you just needed to talk to one person because then you may give the impression that you are not good with verbal communication. Both forms are often required for any job.

2. Relate Your Communication With a Desirable End Result

Ultimately, any hiring manager will want to know how your skills and experiences can benefit the company you are applying to work at. Being able to craft a well-written email is one thing, but you should be able to relate a written communication you sent out with a tangible benefit. Perhaps your communication taught individuals something that would have utilized much more time with a verbal demonstration, or maybe you distributed information about a change in company policy that made a new item more understandable.

3. Practice Using the STAR Method

Communication is one of the most important skills to possess in virtually any position. Therefore, no matter what job you are applying for, you can be reasonably certain that something along the lines of this question will be asked. Potential employers want to know that you can communicate efficiently without any room for error, which is why behavioral interview questions such as this one are so common. Before going into your interview, you should think back on times when you communicated to people through your writing and phrase your response with the STAR method:

  • Situation: Do not simply say you have sent a lot of emails at your past job. Describe a specific situation and what information you were conveying.
  • Task: This refers to what you were trying to achieve with your written communication.
  • Action: With this step, talk about what specifically you did. Was there anything special about this particular communication? Did you do anything in addition to sending a message?
  • Result: Lastly, talk about what happened and how the company benefited from your actions.

Sample ‘Describe a Time When You had to Use Your Written Communication Skills to Get an Important Point Across’ STAR Interview Answer

I had to coordinate a business trip at my last company. I had to ensure we had room accommodations, plane tickets and transportation set up for over 30 people. Two days before we left, I received an email from our airline company that our flight was moved up. Instead of leaving at noon, it was going to leave at 9 a.m. There was no time to schedule a meeting, so I sent an email to everyone going on the trip that the flight was now leaving earlier than anticipated. At the end of the email I made sure to state that people needed to respond so that I knew the email was received. The night before, a few people had not responded, so I had to call them to ensure they knew what time to get at the airport. In the end everyone got the message, and we all left on time.

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