Ironically, the hardest skills to learn in order to wow at job interviews are called soft skills.
These are the skills you will probably spend your entire career and life learning and refining – but that is not to say that you can’t intentionally train them and get ahead of the competition. So let’s get straight into the top five soft skills everyone needs to know to nail a job interview…
- Communication/ People Skills
This probably appears on every list of soft skills, but for a good reason. Nearly every single job involves the necessity to communicate with other people. Good communication is essential whether with team members, managers, customers or clients.
But the ability to simply communicate is not enough. Grunting and shrugging at your interviewer is technically communication, but it’s unlikely to land you the job. You need to understand people more generally and how to communicate appropriately in different situations. For example, your communication with interviewers for a social media manager role would be very different if you were interviewing for a senior hedge fund manager job. That’s not to say that one is better than the other, but the best communicators know how to play to their audience.
You might argue that confidence goes hand in hand with good communication skills – but I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong. You can be very confident in your ability to succeed in a job without having the best communication skills. For example, some of the best web developers, coders and graphics designers I employ are very introverted people – who like to keep to themselves. However, during our application and interview process, they could very confidently showcase their specialist knowledge and skills without hesitation. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some of the worst sales interviews I have experienced have been with incredibly arrogant people who were too confident in their own communication skills. Oh, the irony…
- Drive/ Self-Motivation
This one might be my personal favourite. There is no sweeter sound to a manager’s ears than when you ask someone to do something, and they’ve already done it (or not having to ask at all). Business owners and management staff are always looking to build teams who can operate as efficiently as possible. Individuals who are driven and self-motivating are, therefore, incredibly sought after. There is nothing worse than the operational drag of chasing staff to do their jobs and then quality checking and revising their work when it’s below standards. If you demonstrate that you can motivate yourself to consistently perform at your best – you’ll put yourself in excellent stead with any interviewer.
This one is particularly relevant if you’re interviewing for a job role within a small or medium-sized business but applies just as well to established companies. However, growing enterprises need dynamic people that can grow alongside the business. Usually, business needs will evolve and change over time, so you must demonstrate flexibility and willingness to adapt to new challenges. Showcasing this in an interview is a surefire way to “wow” interviewers in any growing business.
- Leadership Skills
Lastly, solid leadership skills go hand-in-hand with being adaptable. Looking at this skill from the point of view of small or medium-sized businesses – showcasing your ability to lead, or willingness to learn to lead, will help set you ahead of the crowd.
Growing businesses will usually be hiring from a position of necessity. Speaking from personal experience, I know that as companies grow, you begin to realise where bottlenecks are and eventually, introducing a new staff member becomes the solution to many of these bottlenecks. However, if I want to continue scaling that business, I know that sooner or later, the same bottleneck or workload capacity will be hit. So, anyone that I am employing in the early stages of the business growth will, by default, become “seniors” within the company as it continues to grow. Therefore, I am always looking for leadership skills within staff members at ANY level, as these people will potentially become future leaders within the business.
It’s far more effective to have someone who knows the business and role inside out to become a future manager or team leader than to train someone from the ground up. Of course, it goes without saying that if you’re applying for management positions, this becomes more of a hard skill than a soft skill. But if you want to get ahead and climb the career ladder within a company, having the ability to demonstrate your leadership skills or potential as a leader is a fantastic way to set yourself apart.
Soft skills are something that you can never stop learning or refining, and this list is by no means exhaustive. But, investing in yourself as a person and actively working on your soft skills will reap benefits far beyond interview success. I picked these five (out of the hundreds of soft-skills that could impact a job interview) because I believe they are also the most transferable to your everyday life. Having the ability to grow, adapt, become confident in your abilities and communicate with the people and world around you is how you will make the most out of LIFE, not just job interviews.