Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

What are communication skills?

Communication is the ability to communicate orally, in writing, or via electronic means. It also covers interpersonal communication, presentation and negotiation skills.

In an employment context, communication skills are used in team meetings, and are the key to developing positive working relationships with colleagues and clients.

Application form and interview questions

Some examples of application form and interview questions which are designed to test communication skills:

  • Can you give an example of where you have persuaded someone to your way of thinking?
  • Describe a situation where you communicated technical information to a non technical audience.
  • What experience have you had of designing and delivering presentations or writing business reports?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you had to manage conflict and reach a satisfactory conclusion
  • What do you think is the key to effective communication/negotiation/presentation?

If you are unsure how to structure an answer for either application or interview questions, visit the application and interviews section of our website and find out about the CAR (context, action, result) and STAR (situation, task, action, result) models. Our recommendations are based on feedback from employers.

Assessment centres

In assessment centres you will normally be asked to design and deliver a presentation so that your verbal communication skills can be assessed.

Be prepared to answer questions after the presentation. You may also be asked to discuss a case study in a team and you may have to negotiate a set of recommendations or represent a particular interest. You may also be asked to write a written report as part of this exercise or as an additional activity during an assessment centre. Role play situations are also common practice to assess communication skills.

Psychometric tests may also be used to measure your verbal reasoning skills.

Activities where you could develop communication skills

The following activities, which may be undertaken as part of or alongside your studies, can be good ways to develop your communication skills:

  • PASS Leader Voluntary role facilitating groups of lower year students on specific study related topics and strategies. Some students may have the opportunity to take on co-ordinator roles after a year as a Leader.
  • Peer Mentoring Improve your communication skills by supporting others through their studies and wider university life.
  • University college modules often contain opportunities to collaborate and debate ideas.
  • Talks, Workshops and Skills Sessions A variety of sessions are usually offered during the academic year, run by employers or careers consultants. Check CareerConnect for forthcoming events that include a scenario involving practical use of your communication skills.
  • Volunteering Gives you the chance to develop a range of skills while giving something back to the community. Or volunteer for a position of responsibility within your academic department where you will need to communicate with academics and students.
  • Work Experience Develop a range of skills and build up your experience in the workplace while still at university.
  • Group work and presentation skills workshops are also available from the Counselling Service.