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Career Center: Interview Soft Skills

The Career Center has information on job seeking, writing a resume and tips for interviewing.

Soft skills are crucial to success in workplace

What are Soft Skills?

Well-rounded employees are worth their weight in gold.. In today’s demanding workplace, knowledge and experience alone aren’t enough to help employees move up the ladder

Hard skills are the necessary occupational and  technical training you learn in College and on-the-job-training (OJT) training you learn in the workplace.  More often, a lack of soft skills  render your hard skills useless.  Soft skills are the employee skills gaps talked about most aside from technical, math or reading problems.  Employers’ top concern is the lack of soft skills needed for success in almost every role.

We see self-defeating behaviors in ourselves and others every day. These things prevent career growth, income acceleration and job satisfaction. We also recognize good soft skills in people who get things done because others want to work with and for them.

Soft skills are:

Sot skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, career prospects and job performance.  They are a core part of an organization today.  Soft skills commonly needed in the workplace are planning, goal setting, time management, clear communication, accountability, conflict resolution, teamwork, coaching, adapting to other styles, handling change, building relationships, delegating, leading and using emotional intelligence. Let's take each of the skills listed and examine it \more closely.

  • planning
  • goal setting
  • time management
  • clear communication
  • accountability
  • conflict resolution
  • teamwork
  • coaching
  • adapting to other styles
  • handling change
  • building relationships
  • delegating
  • leading
  • emotional intelligence

Show Soft Skills | Don't Tell

From:  Six Soft Skills Everyone Needs

Communication Skills

This doesn't mean you have to be a brilliant orator or writer. It does mean you have to express yourself well, whether it's writing a coherent memo, persuading others with a presentation or just being able to calmly explain to a team member what you need.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Employers want employees who play well with others -- who can effectively work as part of a team. "That means sometimes being a leader, sometimes being a good follower, monitoring the progress, meeting deadlines and working with others across the organization to achieve a common goal," says Lynne Sarikas, the MBA Career Center Director at Northeastern University.


This is especially important for more-seasoned professionals to demonstrate, to counter the (often erroneous) opinion that older workers are too set in their ways. "To succeed in most organizations, you need to have a passion for learning and the ability to continue to grow and stretch your skills to adapt to the changing needs of the organization," Sarikas says. "On your resume, on your cover letter and in your interview, explain the ways you've continued to learn and grow throughout your career."

Problem Solving

Be prepared for the "how did you solve a problem?" interview question with several examples, advises Ann Spoor, managing director of Cave Creek Partners. "Think of specific examples where you solved a tough business problem or participated in the solution. Be able to explain what you did, how you approached the problem, how you involved others and what the outcome was -- in real, measurable results."

Critical Observation

It's not enough to be able to collect data and manipulate it. You must also be able to analyze and interpret it. What story does the data tell? What questions are raised? Are there different ways to interpret the data? "Instead of handing your boss a spreadsheet, give them a business summary and highlight the key areas for attention, and suggest possible next steps," Sarikas advises.

Conflict Resolution

The ability to persuade, negotiate and resolve conflicts is crucial if you plan to move up. "You need to have the skill to develop mutually beneficial relationships in the organization so you can influence and persuade people," Sarikas says. "You need to be able to negotiate win-win solutions to serve the best interests of the company and the individuals involved."


Planning & Goal Setting

Goal  Setting

If you don't know where you are going, you probably will not reach your destination.  The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. An old saying is "Plan your work and work your plan".

When the interviewer ask:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years, he / she wants to know if you have a long range goal.  A secondary follow-on question might be:  How do you plan to reach your goal?


Time Management

Time Management

Most of us have more things we want or need to do than the time available. Since time cannot be created, we need to make choices and make a plan. Planning is the key to relieving the stress of too little time. Plans can be made for long-term or short-term goals. Start by making daily plans. Lots of calendars/time-trackers are available or use a small spiral notebook.

A daily plan involves two things. First, list the items you want to do, then prioritize the items on the list. The ABC method works quite well. Use it at home and at work.

  • Priority A: "Must do" items. These are critical items. Frequently they have an approaching deadline. But don't let deadlines keep you from putting the items important to you in this category such as time with family. Most of your time should be spent on these.
  • Priority B: "Should do" items. These are not essential, but are important. They can be done tomorrow.
  • Priority C: "Nice to do" items. These can be fit in slack periods or done later.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

An unresolved conflict or interpersonal disagreement festers just under the surface in your work environment.

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