Interviews are stressful. They’re nerve-wracking and intimidating. But interviews are also a great opportunity to showcase who you really are as a person.
And you get the job opportunities due to your hard skills but it is always backed by other soft skills that skyrocket your career.
You need to learn soft skills that will help you shine during your next job interview. These skills aren’t just for job interviews, either. They apply to any situation where you need to make a strong impression.
Interviewers often ask candidates questions during job interviews. They want to see whether you can communicate well with them and answer their questions.
This is called soft skills. Soft skills are important because they show that you can interact with other people effectively.
Soft skills include communication, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and presentation skills.
These skills are also known as non-technical skills. Interviewers look at these skills to determine whether you are a good fit for the position.
You should practice these skills before your next interview.
Here we present you a quick guide on how to learn soft skills and how you get yourself started, to assure your next interview success.
How To Get Started With Soft Skills For Interview Success?
Here are some ways to get started with your soft skills and improve as well.
Know what you’re talking about. Don’t wing it when answering an interviewer’s question.
If you don’t know how to respond, research the topic beforehand so that you have something prepared. You’ll sound more confident and professional.
Practice Public Speaking
If you hate public speaking, then get over it. There’s no way around it. You must be able to speak in front of others if you want to land a job.
It doesn’t matter if you’re giving a speech or presenting data in a meeting. The key is to learn how to do it well.
Show Your Interest In Others
When you talk to someone, try to listen to them.
Ask open-ended questions like “What was your favorite part of working here?” and “How did you feel after winning the award?”
Listen to what they say without interrupting. Doing so shows interest in them.
Make Sure You Smile
Smiling makes you seem friendly and approachable. Smiling helps you connect with others. If you smile at people, they’ll usually return the favor.
Use Active Listening Skills
Active listening means hearing what the other person says while thinking about what you want to say yourself.
It’s not always easy to do. To become better at active listening, practice by repeating back what you hear.
Pay Attention To Your Body Language
Body language communicates much more than words alone. When you sit down across from another person, cross your legs.
Lean forward slightly. Make eye contact. All of these things send signals to the other person that you’re interested in them.
Know-How to Answer Questions
It may seem obvious, but knowing how to answer interview questions is essential.
For example, if asked why you left your last job, you could say: “I had too many responsibilities and didn’t have time to focus on my work.”.
Case if asked what you would change about your current company, you could say: “I’d like to see more opportunities for advancement.”
In addition, if you’re asked what you think about this company, you could say something along the lines of: “This is a great place to work. I enjoy being surrounded by smart people who share similar values.”
Be Precise & Speak Clearly
Speak clearly and concisely. Avoid using long sentences. Shorten your answers whenever possible.
Dress professionally, even if it’s just for interviewing. Wear clean clothes and shoes. If you wear jeans, make sure they aren’t wrinkled.
Don’t Forget To Be Yourself
Don’t pretend to be someone else. This will only come off as phony. Instead, be genuine. Talk about yourself and your interests.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the most transferable skills of a job applicant. They include communication, decision-making, collaboration, teamwork, and time management.
They’re all very important for cultural fit and can often be very good predictors for future job performance.
Unlike hard skills, such as math or science, soft skills cannot be easily quantified, making it a lot more difficult for companies to screen for them.
It is always wise to ask a few soft skills questions during the initial stages of the recruitment process as well as later in the interview.
This will help you understand candidates’ ways of thinking, attitudes, motivations, and actions.
For example, when hiring a remote worker, good communication skills are an extremely important soft skill.
It’s wise to have a chat early on in the hiring process if you want to keep regular contact on Slack and Skype.
If they don’t seem interested or are reluctant, it’s a good sign that they might not be a good fit.
Why Soft Skills Are Essential?
The best companies are made up of people who possess both strong soft skills and hard skills. They’re made up of strong communicators, strong leaders, and strong problem-solvers.
Hard skills are a great place to start. You’ll probably need someone who has knowledge of marketing principles and holds a degree in business. But, are they enough to make them perfect?
Most employers would say no. Hard skills drive career advancement and help people succeed.
Marketing managers should also lead by example, communicate well, and think critically.
Employers can find an educated candidate. However, that candidate may not be able to collaborate effectively or solve complex problems, both of which are vital for a successful business.
Even in hard disciplines like computer science, soft skills matter. A developer doesn’t just write code; he needs to innovate, collaborate, and meet deadlines.
He also needs to understand end users’ perspectives. These skills aren’t necessarily taught in computer science programs.
How Soft Skills Are Essential Aspect Of Career Growth?
A recent study found that 93 percent of employees believe soft skills are just as important as technical skills, or even MORE important than them.
Redesigning organizations to empower highly-skilled soft-skills teams was ranked the top trend in the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital survey.
More than three-quarters of employees believe that soft skills are just as important as technical skills or even more important than them.
If you’re competing against people who have the same technical skills as you, you might find yourself competing with them to get jobs.
If you’re applying to a job without any previous work experience, your resume, cover letters, and interview skills aren’t enough to get you hired.
However, demonstrating strong communication skills could be one of those things that set you apart from other candidates.
Why? With globalization becoming an ever-increasing reality, teams are operating across departments, and employees are working more closely with clients and partners. Soft skills are in high demand because they’re so important.
What soft skills should you develop? What can you do in your daily working tasks to cultivate them? You should always be prepared for an interview by practicing your skills.
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out?
Add relevant skills to your resume: Include the terms most directly related to the job in the description of your career experience.
Highlight skills in your cover letter: Include one or two skills mentioned here, and provide examples of instances where you demonstrated them at work.
Use skill words during job interviews: You can also use them in your job interviews. Make sure you keep these top skills in mind during your interview and be ready to give examples of how they’ve helped you solve problems.
Each job will require a different set of skills and experiences, so be sure to read the job description carefully. Focus on the skills listed by an employer.
How to prepare for a behavioral/soft skills interview?
Behavioral interviews are an important part of the hiring process. We will go through what to anticipate in a behavioral interview and what to prepare for it.
We provide a cheat sheet on how to prepare for and tackle behavioral interviews.
Behavioral interviews evaluate candidates’ ability to interact, survive, and grow in an organization
Most companies want potential employees who can not only be good technically but also be a good fit for the company culture, work well within a team, be able to manage a team, and be able to take a stand when needed.
Most of the time candidates who don’t perform well during the behavioral interview despite how they did during the technical rounds are unable to move forward with the hiring process.
Most candidates do really well in technical interviews. They feel coding, machine learning, data sciences, systems design, case studies, and all seem really familiar to themselves and within their comfort zone.
Behavioral interviews, however, require them to sit down beforehand and prepare for it.
There are no right or wrong answers and the interviewer is just looking for your ability to organize your thoughts and show that you have some traits that might be really useful for the company.
Preparing for the behavioral interview
Behavioral interviews do not require as much preparation as technical interviews.
On average, 3–4 days with one hour each day should be enough time to get used to the interview process, example questions, and personalized stories from your interviewer.
But how can one prepare for such an interview? Where to start? What topics to cover? It can be difficult to know where to start.
It becomes much easier and organized if you follow these five steps :
Step 1: Gather and understand the keywords
The first thing that you need to do is to research topics that the interviewer will ask questions about. Behavioral questions can be broad in terms of their topics. The most common questions are about :
- Decision making
- Inter-personal skills
- Conflict resolution
- Negotiation skills
- Personal strengths and weaknesses
- Taking a stand
- Working with a deadline
Look for questions that were asked in a job interview and familiarize yourself in advance with the topics and note down the answers. It should take about an hour or two.
Step 2: Collect your stories
After you’ve identified the common keywords, you then need to find stories from real life that reflect those topics, highlighting your own unique skills.
One thing that I found helpful was to write down all the organizations I’ve been a part of in my past such as academia, jobs, internships, and societies.
For each such instance, I attempted to recall events where I was forced to use my skills for an underlying issue.
Stories don’t have to be professional and can come from personal life as well!
If you’re having trouble remembering events from your past, look at the topics in Step 1 and try to recall events that explain those topics.
Step 3: Assign keywords to your stories
Once you’ve collected stories from your own life, carefully go through each one and assign keywords.
The same story can be tagged with multiple keywords. Keywords will help you answer the questions better during an interview.
Step 4: Create a summary table
Before each behavioral interview, make sure to create a summary table that you go through.
This personalized table keeps track of my stories and their associated keywords It helps you prepare for your behavioral interview.
An example of such an example can be seen below.
The blurred-out text is the identifier for your stories.
Step 5: Explain the stories in the STAR format
The most important part about answering a behavioral question is organizing and structuring your answer.
Every behavioral question must be answered using the STAR format. To answer the question, use the following four-step approach.
Here we will use the example below and try to apply the Star Format to it.
Answering a behavioral question
Open-ended behavioral questions usually ask for an opinion. They can cover a wide range and it‘s not possible to prepare every question that can be posed.
What helps is to relate the question you’re asking to commonly asked questions that have been prepared for and answer them accordingly.
The following five steps will help you answer a behavioral question during an interview.
Step 1: Understand
When asked a behavioral question, the first thing to consider is to really listen to the question carefully and fully understand it before answering.
It’s a good practice to repeat the question in the interviewer’s own words and ask him or her if that’s what he meant by it.
If there is any confusion, ask for clarification. Once you understand the question, ask yourself whether you understand it in simpler terms.
Step 2: Extract
Next, extract useful keywords from the questions so you can use them to narrow down your story ideas.
Step 3: Map
Once you’ve got your keywords, shortlist any stories that fall under them from your summary table.
Step 4: Select
From the shortlisted answers, pick the one that most closely matches the question and hasn’t already been used in the interview.
Step 5: Apply
Use the STAR method to evaluate each story.
Top Soft Skills For Interview Success
If you don’t seem enthusiastic or passionate about your job interview, you might not stand out from other candidates for the same position.
It’s important to show employers you’re keen right from the start of an interview, and that you’ll carry this same enthusiasm into the workplace if you’re the chosen candidate.
Being punctual, actively asking questions during interviews, and listening intently are all strong indicators that show that you’re an enthusiastic applicant for this job opportunity.
Describe a situation where you had to deal with someone who constantly opposed your ideas.
If a team leader encourages competition among team members instead of collaboration, what would you do?
Managers look for employees who get along well with others.
Whether you’ll be working on a lot of team projects together or simply attending a few meetings with your colleagues, you need to be effective in working with the people around you too. You need to be willing to work with others even when you don’t always see eye to eye.
Teamwork skills include the ability to negotiate effectively with others and to understand and appreciate differences in people.
Another related skill is being able to accept and apply feedback.
- Accepting feedback
- Customer service
- Dealing with difficult situations
- Dealing with office politics
- Disability awareness
- Diversity awareness
- Emotional intelligence
- Establishing interpersonal relationships
- Dealing with difficult personalities
- Intercultural competence
- Interpersonal skills
- Selling skills
- Social skills
- Team building
It depends on the company and is one of the few soft skills that are harder to learn or develop To get a sense of a company’s values, look at its underlying beliefs.
If you value the things that they value, then it should be an easy cultural fit for you to join their company.
Diplomacy and collaboration skills
Collaborating with others even under tense situations is a strong selling point for a hiring manager.
Be a positive person who enjoys working together. Think about times when your team has had to mediate disputes so that they could stay focused.
Be careful when talking about former colleagues or managers, because badmouthing them reflects badly on you.
Before an interview, consider what your strengths are when it comes to interacting with people.
Being aware of these qualities and focusing on them during your job interview is a good way of showing off your skills and helping you stand out from the crowd.
If your team or colleague needs support, can they count on YOU to be there for them?
Dependability is about making sure that you deliver what you promised in the time frame that you need to, but also doing extra things for your team when you’re able.
Tell me about a situation where you had to face an ethical dilemma at work.
If you found out that your supervisor was breaking the rules of the company, what would you do next?
Employers look for people who have a strong work ethic. Such people show up for work on time, complete their tasks in a timely manner and stay both focused and on top of things.
They are able to plan their time and complete their tasks thoroughly. They can work independently, but people with strong work ethics can also follow instructions.
Demonstrating a good work ethic is hard; therefore, employers will appreciate it if they see it in an application for a job.
- Business ethics
- Following direction
- Meeting deadlines
- Proper business etiquette
- Staying on task
- Strategic planning
- Time management
- Working well under pressure
Employers are always looking for people who will bring a cheerful attitude to the workplace.
They want employees who are friendly, eager to work, a pleasure to be around, and generally easy to get along with.
It’s especially important to be able to stay positive when you’re working under pressure in a fast-paced environment.
Aside from book smarts, what’s your EQ? Emotional intelligence has to do with whether or not you have empathy, are self-aware, and are able to self-regulate.
Having high emotional intelligence can make you easier to work with, as you are more sensitive to the needs and communication styles of your coworkers.
Whether the role you are interviewing for is customer-facing or not, being able to deliver effective customer service with empathy will go a long way in building strong working relationships with your colleagues and internal stakeholders.
Providing an explanation of how you have taken into account the concerns or considerations of your internal and external stakeholders is skill that will be highly valued by many employers.
This quality is all about how flexible you are, and how well you are able to change and pivot to new situations and circumstances, especially when you’re under pressure.
Are you agile enough to change course if something isn’t working, or if circumstances require it? Employers value someone who can change and find success.
Tell me about a time you had to make a decision with incomplete information
If you spotted a mistake in a report but your manager wasn’t available, what would you do?
No matter what the job, employers want candidates who can analyze situations and make informed decisions.
Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you need to be able to understand problems, think critically, and devise solutions.
Skills related to critical thinking include creativity, flexibility, and curiosity.
- Artistic aptitude
- Critical observation
- Critical thinking
- Design aptitude
- Desire to learn
- Logical thinking
- Thinking outside the box
- Tolerance of change and uncertainty
- Value education
- Willingness to learn
Communication skills are important in every role, in some way or another.
Businesses value employees with good communication skills and who can get their points across effectively and diplomatically.
Furthermore, companies are looking for people who can communicate clearly with their stakeholders and other senior leaders within the company.
With this in mind: Being able to confidently communicate your point during a job interview will be impressive to your interviewer.
Adding active listening and responding with prepared responses means you have strong skills in engaging in two-directional communication, not just one way.
How well do you communicate? Communication skills are important for almost any job. You’ll most likely need to interact with people on the job – whether they’re clients, customers, colleagues or employers, or vendors.
You’ll also need to be able to communicate clearly and politely with people face-to-face, by phone, and via email.
You will also likely need to be a good listener.
Employers want employees who can not only communicate their own ideas but who also listen empathetically to others. Listening is a particularly important skill in customer service jobs.
- Nonverbal communication
- Public speaking
- Reading body language
- Social skills
- Verbal communication
- Visual communication
- Writing reports and proposals
- Writing skills
Many roles require a certain level of problem-solving and lateral thinking, and these skills need to be developed independently without help from your peers or managers.
Interviewers will usually ask for some examples of times when you’ve worked independently and as part of a team to solve challenging situations in past jobs.
They’ll want to know how your actions affected others around you.
Before your interview, prepare several examples of your best experiences solving problems.
This could include times where you’ve developed a method for doing something or situations where you thought outside the box, known as critical thinking
Leadership and initiative
Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to be in a managerial position to show leadership skills.
These skills can include things like stepping up during a team meeting to contribute ideas, take initiative to get something done yourself, or being the person that others turn to when they need help.
Being able to work effectively within a team and offer help when needed is an important part of effective leadership.
If leadership is one of your personal goals and fits well with your personality, then let people know about it and back it up with evidence.
Most employers will want to know whether you’re able to make decisions when push really comes to shove and whether you can manage situations and people effectively.
Being able to step up to the challenge when things get tough and help resolve them is something employers look for when hiring new employees.
If you’re interviewing for a job where there is potential for advancement, the company will want to see that you have what it takes to be a leader.
Other skills related to leading include the ability to solve problems and conflicts between people and to make executive decisions, among others.
- Conflict management
- Conflict resolution
- Deal making
- Decision making
- Dispute resolution
- Giving clear feedback
- Inspiring people
- Managing difficult conversations
- Managing remote/virtual teams
- Meeting management
- Project management
- Resolving issues
- Successful coaching
- Talent management