Print this page

Employability skills

Communication & interpersonal

What are communication and interpersonal skills?

Communication skills

The ability to give and receive information - both verbally and in writing - that is clear, well structured and targeted to the intended audience.

Communication skills also include listening and questioning skills as well as non-verbal communication, such as eye-contact, body language and pace and tone of voice. If you want to explore communication skills in more detail, there are some great resources on the Mindtools website.

Interpersonal skills

The ability to relate to and get along with others, build trust, empathise and see things from different perspectives.

Interpersonal skills refer to the broader set of skills of which communication is key but also include social and emotional skills. 

Why employers want them

Effective communication and interpersonal skills underpin everything, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. Poor communication in a work environment can lead to misunderstandings, time being wasted or mistakes being made, all of which have the potential to be very costly to an organisation.  

In any working environment, you will work or liaise with others to at least some degree, whether these people are internal or external to your organisation. The ability to get along with others, put them at ease and win their trust and confidence is vital for the success of the organisation you are representing.

Examples of how communication and interpersonal skills can be developed or evidenced

  • Part-time work (e.g. in any customer-facing role or where you needed to build relationships with others).
  • Customer relations work (e.g. involving listening and understanding needs, explaining, persuading).
  • Presentations or explaining research to those without specialist knowledge.
  • Course or hall representative.
  • Voluntary work which involves listening (e.g. Nightline, Samaritans).
  • Being a mentor in schools or within your department.
  • Group work as part of your course (e.g. articulating ideas, group discussions, supporting your position with logic).
  • For more information on developing specific communication skills, download our eBooks or read them online.