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Why Soft Skills Matter in Interviews

Dec 15, 2015 | Harrison College

Why Soft Skills Matter in Interviews

When you interview for jobs, you might wonder what types of accomplishments and talents you should highlight on your resume. But what may be even more important in interviews are abilities referred to as “soft skills.”

Soft skills primarily refer to conversation, listening, etiquette and getting along with co-workers. Most academic and on-the-job training can be classified as hard skills, which are measurable skills, such as knowing how to use a specific software program or performing medical procedures. While hard skills are important, soft skills can help you stand out because they showcase how you can adapt to different environments and solve problems.

In late 2014, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) created a list of the 10 Skills Employers Most Want. And guess what: nine out of 10 skills that employers wanted were classified as soft skills, including:

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

It makes sense that employers search for people who have these abilities, especially because “studies show that job/career success is based on 75 percent soft skills and only 25 percent hard skills,” according to Dennis Spisak, author of “Soft Skills: The Foundation for Academic and Career Success.”

Knowing what you know now about soft skills, here are three tips to highlight them during interviews:

1) Include a few soft skills on your resume.

Your resume does not only have to include quantitative information. For example, you might write, “Cared for and wrote medical history reports for six patients with traumatic brain injuries.” While this information is critical to understanding your experience, you might also include some information about how you worked in a cooperative environment as a part of a team of nurses, doctors and other hospital staff members. This strongly suggests that you easily get along with other people at work.

2) Maintain good posture, eye contact and presence.

Making sure that you do simple things – such as sitting up straight, speaking clearly and making eye contact – will confidently display your professional presence. These techniques are really just good manners, and showing good manners is definitely a soft skill.

3) Discuss your strengths.

Interviews are a time where you can openly talk about your strengths, and these should not just be hard skills, like being great at math or having 10 years of experience using Microsoft Excel. Perhaps one of your strengths (i.e., one of your strong soft skills) is managing your time wisely and working on multiple projects at once without losing focus. Feel free to talk about these strengths along with your more measurable abilities.

4) Practice your soft skills.

Just like hard skills, many soft skills can be learned. You can practice soft skills way before you graduate college. In the days, weeks and even months leading up to your interview, practice managing your time more wisely, network and socialize with new people to work on conversational skills and engage in mock interviews with students, faculty and staff at Harrison College.

 

Soft skills are a vital component of your current and future success, both in college and your career. Now that you understand more about what soft skills are, why employers look for people with soft skills and how you could improve your soft skills, you have the opportunity to improve your chances of fulfilling your dreams.

For more advice regarding interviews and your career, speak with a career services representative at 888.500.1026, or read more blogs in our Interview Skill Series. 

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