Soft skills are often underestimated during the interview process which always surprises me because they are always the first thing you read on a CV – “I am a conscientious, hard-working person…” may seem like an obvious statement but personable transferable skills like these are essential.
Whenever I am recruiting a new member of my team I’m always thinking “Will they fit in?” because you can have the most impressive work history and education but if you can’t build on your essential soft skills, I’m not interested.
Whether you are a job seeker or recruiter, here are 5 aspects you should always keep in mind.
The ultimate soft skill. Great communication skills can make or break the interview process, whether you’re able to connect with the other person could be the reason you are (or aren’t) successful.
In every interview, there should be a constant flow of conversation between the people taking part, if one person is predominately doing all of the talking then something isn't right - you need to be verbally articulate and a good listener at the same time. To avoid rambling and getting tongue tied, do your research beforehand, this way you can think about how to answer the question and sound eloquent when you do. From the very beginning of the interview, you are being given information both directly and indirectly and if you aren't listening intently, you are missing a major opportunity to impress. Good communication skills include listening and illustrating that you understand what is being said. I advise observing your interviewer and matching their style and pace, this will help with the fluidity and relaxation of your conversation.
Effective management can encompass several soft skills, for example effective resolution, decision making, efficiency, reliability and so on. During your interview you need to show that you understand the importance of management – time management, project management, self-management – every one of these reflect your ability to effectively analyse and prioritise a situation.
Not everyone is a born leader, and there’s no problem with that but it is important to showcase leadership characteristics in an interview. Leaders take initiative, believe in their vision and are innovative thinkers, I am always impressed when I am interviewing somebody who really believes they can make a difference and can confidently list all the ways they add value to the business which we haven't seen previously.
Give an example of a time you displayed great leadership skills, it’s all about backing up your personal testimonies with evidence. I suggest taking a portfolio of your work to show even if the interviewer doesn't ask to see anything.
Motivation & Passion
I think every CV touches upon these soft skills and although they are two separate characteristics, they fit together so well. Without passion and motivation to succeed, how can you progress to the next level? How can you make a difference? How can you become the missing piece of the puzzle? It’s simple, you can’t. Every person I have ever hired has these two things in common, they know they can do the job, they know they want the job and they will do anything they possibly can to get the job – and that’s why they succeed.
Once you've impressed your potential employer it comes down to one thing – can you fit in to the company culture? The interview process starts from the minute you walk through the office door, meeting the receptionist, introducing yourself to other members of staff, it all adds to the final decision. An employer isn't going to employ somebody they don't think will ‘get’ their culture. Of course you need to maintain a professional persona but bring something fresh, be friendly and open – I can’t tell you how many people I have interviewed who just crash and burn when they sit opposite me looking rigid and impersonal. From an employer’s point of view, why not invite the interviewee to work from the office for the day? This is a great way of getting to know them and gives you a chance to ask the rest of the team for their opinion.
Each of these soft skills are essential so don’t just list them on your CV, bring them to the interview and I guarantee you’ll leave a lasting impression.