You’re going after your dream career, fully equipped with the technical skills you’ll need to succeed in your industry. You had an internship in New York, and you started and sold your own business while juggling an 18-credit load during your undergrad. You’re checking off each box with ease during the interview, but then they ask you about your soft skills.
You wrack your brain. Soft skills? Soft…skills…? You don’t remember having any college courses on soft skills. In fact, you’re starting to wonder if hard skills are a thing too and if semi-soft skills even exist. You need this job. Actually, this employer needs you!
“I have very good interpersonal skills!”, you blurt out.
“Great, and what else?”
What…else…? What else qualifies as a soft skill?
OK, chill. We know you probably know what soft skills are. If you don’t, Google Dictionary defines them as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” OK, but do you know which soft skills you have other than the classic “interpersonal” skills? And how do you show it in an interview? We’ll walk you through a list and help you show off your softness.
Check it out:
(above: pexels.com, a woman leading a company)
Leadership and Self-Motivation
You are a leader. You lead your life. You lead your educational route. You lead your career route. You lead your path…every day…down the street to grab some coffee and quiche. This may not seem like a “soft” skill since leaders are seen as “strong.” However, it is crucial to work effectively in any career. As is self-motivation. This quality is just as important as leadership because no one likes to be breathing down necks making sure employees are hitting their deadlines. You may have a lot of experience leading in a workspace, or you may not.
Either way, if you look back on your life, you have most likely led a lot of your decisions and projects. Find an example of your leadership abilities and share it with confidence to your potential employer. Make sure these experiences are post-high school since most employers won’t want to hear about that. As for self-motivation, let them know you are driven by sharing how you managed your time and deadlines at past jobs.
(below: pexels.com, communication team working together on a project)
Communication, Listening, Teamwork, and Flexibility
If you are the one saying, “I just don’t like people” or “I hate drama” you are the problem. Communication entails genuinely listening, truly trying to understand others, working with others’ ideas and being clear about your concerns or desires. Tolerance and humility are very important when communicating effectively with others. To get anything done effectively, every career requires good communication, great listening skills, solid teamwork and flexibility.
Remember that you’re working with other people toward solutions that are beneficial for everyone; you’re not seeking your own glory here. In your interview, to show you have good communication skills, don’t worry so much about how eloquent you are (although that does help), but focus more on showing the employer that you listen, respond accordingly, and that you can clearly communicate your expectations and any questions you may have about the job. Think of times that you’ve created a plan, presented it to a team, and then had to change the plans; how did you react and what was the end result?
(right: pexels.com, creativity journal)
Creativity, Problem-Solving and a Positive Attitude
You might not think you’re creative, but creativity can be learned. Oftentimes we’ve had job, volunteer, or class experiences where we implement creative ideas, but we just don’t see it as “creative” because someone says it was “problem-solving” or “creating content.” It can be both of these things; creativity is oftentimes infused into different aspects of our work!
You can practice your creativity by finding situations online where businesses made a mistake and had to fix it. Before looking at the solution, come up with your own! Another way to practice creativity is by giving yourself time to brainstorm, doodle, write and draw freely to music, thoughts or feelings!
This is where a positive attitude is important; you might get frustrated with your abilities sometimes or hit a writer’s block. Don’t be afraid to go for a walk, listen to music, or find another outlet to get your creative juices flowing again. When you’re not creating something, a positive attitude is still very much appreciated within the workplace as plans take a turn for the worst sometimes. Problem-solving is always easier with a positive outlook on the future. Remember that finding the solutions to problems is a form of creativity since you have to be inventive about things sometimes!
In the interview, have an example ready of a time where you were creative—whether you did graphic design for a company, or you figured out a nifty solution to a power outage at a fast-food restaurant. Show how your creativity shines through normal everyday life. Be creative about your creativity. Cliché, I know, but it works! And don’t forget to add a smile to everything you’re saying. Be genuine about it all, but let them see your positive attitude.
Soft skills are what really set you apart from your peers who are competing for the same job offer. I once had a job interview totally turn around, and result in me being employed, because I talked about an experience where I edited a video, my employer didn’t approve, and we worked through the issues to agree on the changes that would be made.
Soft skills are good indicators of whether or not you’ll work well with everyone there and truly be an asset to the team. Take some time to write down your soft skills—right now! – so you’re aware of them. You should be familiar enough with them that the next time you’re in an interview they’ll roll off your tongue just as easily as your technical skills.
(above: pexels.com, motivational sign at work)
Author: Madi Dunne