How to answer "How do you approach building and maintaining professional relationships?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

Employers ask candidates about how they approach building and maintaining professional relationships to assess their ability to work collaboratively with others and contribute effectively to a team. A candidate's answer to this question can reveal their communication skills, empathy, and networking abilities. Hiring managers want to see that the candidate is capable of building rapport, understanding the needs of colleagues or clients, and maintaining productive working relationships that can lead to successful outcomes.

In addition, building and maintaining professional relationships are essential skills in a wide range of industries and job roles. Hiring managers want to know if a candidate is capable of developing and nurturing these relationships.

How to answer the question

When answering this question, it's important to demonstrate your ability to build and maintain professional relationships. Here are a few tips:

  • Explain your approach: Start by explaining how you typically approach building and maintaining professional relationships. This could include details about your communication style, willingness to listen, and your openness to feedback.
  • Highlight your experience: Give examples of times when you successfully built and maintained professional relationships. Talk about how you developed rapport with clients, colleagues, or stakeholders and how you maintained those relationships over time.
  • Show your skills: Emphasize the skills you bring to the table that allow you to build and maintain professional relationships. These could include your ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, and act with empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Highlight your networking abilities: Discuss how you actively seek out opportunities to network and build relationships, including attending industry conferences, professional events, and social gatherings. Talk about how you have used these opportunities to develop professional relationships that have benefited your career or organization.

Overall, show the interviewer that you are competent at building and maintaining professional relationships. Demonstrate how you can work with others to achieve common goals and how your skills and experience have enabled successful outcomes in the past.

Sample Answers

1. Bad answer:

"I don't really focus on building professional relationships. I just do my job and get it done."

This is a bad answer because it shows a lack of interest in building relationships, which is an important aspect of working in any field. Employers want to hire people who have the ability to build and maintain professional relationships, as this can lead to increased collaboration, productivity, and success.

2. Mediocre answer:

"I attend networking events and reach out to colleagues occasionally."

This answer is better than the first one because it shows some effort to build professional relationships. However, it is not very specific, and it doesn't show a deep understanding of the importance of relationships in the workplace.

3. Good answer:

"I approach building and maintaining professional relationships by taking a genuine interest in people. I enjoy learning about my colleagues' interests, backgrounds, and experiences, and I try to find ways to connect with them on a personal level. I also believe that communication is key, so I make an effort to stay in touch with colleagues regularly and provide support whenever needed."

This is a good answer because it shows a deep understanding of the importance of relationships in the workplace. It also demonstrates the ability to connect with people on a personal level, which is essential for building strong relationships.

4. Excellent answer:

"I approach building and maintaining professional relationships by actively seeking out opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders. I believe that building relationships requires more than just small talk and socializing; it requires shared goals and a sense of mutual respect and trust. I take the time to learn about my colleagues' areas of expertise and try to identify ways that we can work together to achieve our common goals."

This is an excellent answer because it shows a deep understanding of the complexities of building professional relationships. It also demonstrates a proactive approach to collaboration and highlights the importance of building relationships based on shared goals and mutual respect.

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