SharePoint Ask Me About and Interests in Company Directory User Profiles

SharePoint Ask Me About and Interests

Let’s refine the company directory from a couple of posts ago with SharePoint Ask Me About and Interests. First you’ll see where the Ask Me About (i.e. expertise) data comes from and how it’s populated. Then, you’ll see how to add one-click refiners to focus search on the Expertise or Interest attributes.

For reference, here’s where the previous post left off with Ask Me About and Interests for employees in the Company Directory.:

O365 SharPoint Expertise in Search Results.

Where Does SharePoint Ask Me About Information Come From

Expertise and Interests information comes from the Office 365 SharePoint User Profile Service. In this solution, the data will be promoted into the SharePoint Search engine using managed properties.

Expertise and Interests can be automatically pushed out by the IT department but should be sourced directly from employees when possible. That is done when employees populate their “My Profile” section of Office 365 SharePoint, and Microsoft Delve, with “Skills and Expertise”, “Interests and Hobbies”, “Past Projects”, etc.

Updating Delve

For a user to access his or her Expertise and Interests data, s/he can right click in the upper right hand corner and choose “My profile“:

O365 SharePoint My Profile Link.

The Microsoft Delve landing page will now be displayed. The next step is to work with the “Add skills and expertise” link:

O365 SharePoint Microsoft Delve landing page.

That drops the page down to the “Skills and expertise” edit pane:

O365 SharePoint Delve expertise.


This information is then promoted into the Managed Property named “PeopleKeywords“, and PeopleKeywords is configured to be a refiner out of the box.

Actually, the managed property is a combination of three Crawled Properties: People:SPS-Responsibility, People:SPS-Skills, and People:SPS-Interests

O365 SharePoint PeopleKeywords Managed Property.

Side Note About the Managed Metadata Term Store

Quick tip: these “PeopleKeywords” values are also automatically propagated into the Managed Metadata Term Store. That means the values are available outside of People results and can be utilized elsewhere.

O365 SharePoint Keywords in the Term Store.


SharePoint Search Refiners

When viewing profiles, employees now see Past Projects, Interests, and Expertise. Also, even though not shown below, Interests have also been updated.

O365 SharePoint Delve Another FInal Profile

As things stand right now, the  Company Directory built in the previous post has two major user experience problems.

Problem 1 – The Keyword Query Language (KQL) Query Matches More Than Initially Thought

With the initial SharePoint Search web part parameters, the query and Result Source were setup as follows:

O365 SharePoint Human Resources valid people search results.

The above basically reads, “Get all People and filter them by anything in the Search Box (if specified) and they must have an e-mail address ending in”. Now, if you look at the Company Directory landing page, it reads, “Search for People by Name” above the Search Box.

But, is it really only searching for people by name?

No, the query will match any properties on the content type (e.g. People) that have been indexed into its search. So it’s matching on Interests, Expertise (i.e. Responsibilities), Skills, etc and not just name.

To fix this, update the Keyword Query Language (KQL) value, to be:

PreferredName:{searchboxquery}* AND


Now if a value is specified in the SharePoint Search Box Web Part, it will be applied against the PreferredName managed property:


Problem 2 – The PeopleKeywords Refiner Contains Too Many Values

The next important update is to add one-click refiners. In my test directory of only 2 employees, here is what the Refiner for PeopleKeywords looks like:

It has hit the default maximum values to be displayed (15) with only 2 employees. Also, all of the different employee properties are grouped together without distinction between an Interest, a Skill, or an Expertise. There’s also no filter on Past Projects which is applicable when searching for expertise and work history.

This is unusable and definitely won’t scale to a larger organization. Split the SharePoint Search people managed properties into individual refiners to improve the results and usability.

Those are:

  • People:SPS-Interests – for our example, values such as “Blogging” and “Golf”
  • People:SPS-Skills – for our example, values such as Office 365, SharePoint and Accounting
  • People:SPS-PastProjects – for our example, values such as IPO and Corporate Reorganization

IMPORTANT NOTE: for People Properties to be valid refiners, this must be done at the SharePoint Admin level, that is, from the SharePoint Administration Center:


The above is repeated until all of the target People properties are pushed into their individual refiners:

O365 SharePoint Human Resources Company Directory all properties mapped.

And, as for “Expertise“, that already exists in a refiner where People:SPS-Responsibilities is promoted to the “Responsibilities” managed property out-of-the-box.

Laid out, that’s:

O365 SharePoint Human Resources Company Directory Refiners mapped.

Now, setup the Refiner Web Part and break each property into an individual refiner where the information is categorized into useful, readable, and meaningful buckets:

With a few cosmetic updates to the page, this feature will be ready to roll-out company wide.



Categories: Business, Business Management, Human Resources, Office 365 and O365, SharePoint

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  1. SharePoint Company Directory and People Finder with SharePoint Search and User Profiles - Westmorr Consulting

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