The Importance of Showcasing Soft Skills in an Interview


Soft skillsWhen applying for a technical position, it is extremely important to describe how your technical skills are a good fit. If you are applying for a Senior SQL Developer position, your resume should clearly show that you have significant hands on experience writing and developing applications that interface with a SQL database. These types of technical skills are considered to be ‘hard skills’ or specific, teachable skills and abilities. Proving you have the necessary hard skills on an interview is critical, however, showing your prospective employer that you have solid ‘soft skills’ is just as essential.

Soft skills, often called ‘people skills,’ relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with coworkers, managers, vendors, peers and customers. Soft skills include the art of collaboration, managing expectations as well as building a consensus for new ideas. The full list of soft skills is long, but certainly includes:

  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Empathy
  • Work ethic
  • Respect
  • Enthusiasm
  • Optimism
  • Integrity
  • Motivation
  • Good manners
  • Professionalism

The following are some key soft skills that you should bring up during your interview – as they will be sure to impress the interviewer and hopefully help you land the position:

Consistently gets work done on time at high quality

Demonstrate areas of your current/prior employment where you won awards or accolades for completing key projects and milestones and not only met, but exceeded expectations.

Able to prioritize with little direction

Discuss situations where you have had to balance completing multiple projects and tasks and how you took the lead and overcome obstacles to ensure that you successfully accomplished the critical tasks on time. If you worked late nights and through the weekend to accomplish your tasks, don’t be afraid to tell your future employer.

Always a team player

Give examples of where you have helped team members or peers who might have been struggling with a task and discuss how you helped them overcome their obstacle. If you are ‘that’ person that people feel comfortable confiding in or come to you for advice, share that with the interviewer.

Effective communicator and collaborator

Show how you helped bring people together who had different opinions and ideas on how a project should be run or how a new policy should be implemented. Show how your persuasive communication skills helped cross-functional groups work effectively towards deadlines and make necessary compromises to keep a project on track.

When answering interview questions, always be honest and sincere. You should also come prepared with a couple of questions of your own, as it shows your genuine interest in the company. At the end of the interview, e-mail the interviewer a thank-you note referencing something that you discussed. This shows that you were listening and also demonstrates solid follow up and communication skills.

Remember, strong soft skills can often make the difference between a good candidate and a great candidate. If two candidates have similar experience, background and skills, though one has much stronger soft skills, you can guess which person gets the job offer. As a result, it is important to demonstrate and discuss soft skills at an interview to show the interview all you have to offer, beyond your technical skills and abilities.

About Barbara Feldman

Barbara primarily works with New England based companies providing consulting and permanent staffing services in the areas of EDI, Supply Chain, ecommerce, and Information Technology. She works directly with hiring managers and company recruiters to understand their staffing goals and requirements and position candidates in response to her client’s requirements.

She began her career working for GE Information Services and became responsible for growing their EDI practice in North America. She then joined Fidelity Investments and was chartered with automating their manual supply chain practices by implementing EDI and online requisitioning throughout Fidelity. Barbara has also worked as a Software and Services Account Manager at Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. She currently serves as a Board of Director Member of the New England Electronic Commerce User Group Association (NEECOM) and is a graduate of General Electric’s Management Corporate Training program. In her free time, Barbara enjoys tennis, cycling, travel, and spending time with her family and friends.

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