What are soft skills? Sometimes they are also called people skills or interpersonal skills but basically they are your personal qualities which determine how well you interact with other people. For many employers, soft skills are just as important as hard skills.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
When a huge pile of resumes are screened for any role, all the candidates who make it into the short list already have the qualifications and experience required for the role. It’s a given. Even if some experience is lacking, hard skills can be quite easily taught and then measured.
Soft skills on the other hand are much harder to teach. For example, a candidate with a Marketing degree and 2 years experience has lots of marketing knowledge and some brand experience. You can teach them many more marketing job tasks and build their experience, it just takes time. What if a similar candidate had more years of experience but was not very positive or self motivated? Could you teach them those skills? Maybe, but it is quite difficult to change someone’s mindset and most employers find this way too hard. This is why they look for candidates with the soft skills they believe are critical to the role they need to fill.
Which Soft Skills Matter Most?
The following soft skills are very important. Employers will ask targeted behavioral questions to asses if you have these desirable soft skills. I have provided links to posts where I have already developed answers to these specific behavioral questions, you can use my answers to help you prepare your specific answers.
Seven Specific Soft Skills:
- 5 Ways to Improve Your Job Interview Communication Skills
- Describing Your Preferred Method of Communication
3. Problem Solving
- 3 Types of Problem Solvers – Which One Are You?
- How to Show You Can Identify Problems And Solve Them
- Great Ways to Show You Can Adjust to Change
- Show You Can Apply Change Management and Reduce Workplace Frustrations
6. Cope Under Pressure
- Show You Can Juggle More Than One Project at a Time
- How to Show You Can Manage the Stress of Time Pressures
In addition to the soft skills above, employers will also be looking for the more general soft skills listed below. These soft skills will not only be demonstrated in the way you answer job interview questions but will also be reflected in your overall body language and demeanor. For many employers these are not negotiable. No one wants to hire someone who is negative, lazy and spends their day complaining and not achieving anything.
Five General Soft Skills:
- Positive Attitude
- Self Motivation
- Hard Work
- Cultural Fit
And finally, if you are applying for a senior management role you will need to demonstrate the soft skills below in addition to the ones listed earlier. These are key to any senior leadership role.
Five Management Soft Skills
- Communication Skills
- Strategic Thinking
- Influencing Others
- Mentoring and Coaching skills
- Organisation and time Management
The most important thing to remember about soft skills is that you cannot simply say you have them and expect the employer to believe you. Everyone says they are a team player and have great communication skills. You need to prove it and the best way to do that is to be mindful of your body language, your attitude and develop your answers to the most common behavioral interview questions in a way that demonstrates as many of these soft skills as possible.