Let’s face it; we’ve heard the term ‘soft skills’ thrown around during our job hunt, while we’re scrolling through interview prep blogs at 8am. What does it mean? We ask ourselves, while munching a bowl of cornflakes, abandoning the mission to get a second bowl, and finding it pretty easy to dismiss the term as useless jargon.
But what if I told you that demonstrating soft skills makes the difference between a second interview and an email that begins with ‘we regret to inform you…’
From leadership qualities and problem solving to communication and compassion, soft skills questions assess the strength of certain personality traits and how they will help you navigate the role you’re applying for. Here are the in’s and out’s of soft skills, what they are and why you need them for professional success.
What are soft skills?
Unlike tangible, technical skills like qualifications and professional experience, soft skills, also known as transferable skills, are generalized non industry-specific skills that demonstrate character traits and personality.
Revolving largely around your attitude, instincts and intuition in the work place, soft skills often help you assert your place in the social side of a business. This usually means dealing with issues that relate to your team or colleagues, whether personal or professional, and your sensitivity and emotional understanding of your role within a team dynamic. The goal of having honed soft skills is to be able to help the person-to-person relationships in a work environment run smoothly and prevent interference with overall business goals.
For example, being able to explain difficult issues to colleagues or clients, or instantly be able to change your tone or speaking style depending on professional context shows you have excellent communication skills, which are a hugely valuable soft skill.
Other soft skills include leadership, self-motivation, self-awareness, teamwork, problem solving, flexibility, organization and ability to work under pressure.
Why are they important?
In a competitive job market, soft skills distinguish a good candidate from a perfect one. Though technical skills are essential, being able to bridge any gaps with excellent soft skills will show someone’s potential, and what personal touches they will add to the role.
For example, on paper, to be a great recruiter you need to have experience in the industry, a great track record of placing candidates for roles and unrivalled knowledge of your market. But even if you possess all of these, you won’t be successful in this job if you lack soft skills like emotional intelligence, communication, persuasion and problem solving.
Soft skills in recruitment help you deal with each person uniquely, allowing you to assist with their personal requirements alongside their professional ones. Interpersonal qualities like these make you more approachable and trustworthy in the eyes of a candidate, and let the applicant know that their unique situation matters and can be catered to.
Examples of interview questions that determine soft skills
- Can you tell me about a time you had a dispute with a colleague and how you resolved it?
This question aims to determine you teamwork and collaboration attitudes.
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to explain a complex issue to a new colleague who is unfamiliar with the situation?
This question wants to reveal your communication skills.
- How do you deal with a rapidly increasing workload?
They want to understand your organization and time management skills.
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