8 soft skills you need to have and show for interviewers.
There are many skills that can help you land a job.
Some of them are practical, market-related skills such as knowing a certain tool, language, or industry. And then there are the “soft” skills, related more to personality, performance, and attitude.
In honor of the 8th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest, here are the top eight “soft” skills that you not only need to have, but need to show during your brief interview.
8 soft interview skills you need to have and show
1) The ability to be on time
If you can’t make it to the interview on time, it is thought that you won’t be able to arrive on time for work, that you are lax and perhaps just a bit too laid back for their needs. Get to the location approximately 10 minutes before the interview is to begin. Better to be early than late! Go to the bathroom before you get there and be ready to begin the interview.
2) Show interest in what the company does
If you are going to be hired by these people, they want to see that you are interested not just in getting hired, but in the company itself.
When you get to the office and they point to a reception area, sit down and see if there are any company-related materials nearby. Often, the company will put out company brochures or profiles. Pick them up and read them – and if you like, even ask if you can take one with you. Don’t spend those few minutes checking your phone or tablet – this shows you are not focused on them.
3) Do the research before you go to the company – and show that you’ve done it!
Almost every company has a website. Read what the company has to say about themselves and if you can fit it into the interview, mention that while you were reading some of the website pages, you thought… [whatever].
Google the company and read what others are saying as well. If the company just had a massive layoff, you should know that before you go. One of our longest standing clients (fourteen years and counting), had just laid off more than 90% of its staff. But they were dedicated to rebuilding, and rebuild they did. So layoffs may not be a sign that the company is shutting down, but still, it is something you should know about.
Skim the list of who is on the management team. If the CEO of the company takes the time to walk in the room, you should know it is the CEO. Sometimes an interviewer will simply introduce people by their first names and not identify their titles – if you’ve done your research, the names alone may trigger your memory.
4) Be friendly
While interviews are quite formal in the United States and elsewhere, in Israel, interviews tend to be more friendly and informal. They might ask you about your family, how you like the town where you live, etc. Here you have to find the “perfect” blend during which you share some information of a personal nature without overdoing it. And understand that during this period, they are still gathering facts – how you respond, how open you are, how much time outside work hours you can expected to be required to deal with stressful situations and how much those situations might impact on your job.
As friendly as it seems, there is still a purpose to these first few moments. Not even for a second do they forget why you are there; you shouldn’t either.
5) Know what to share and what not to share
As much as we’d like to think that we have succeeded in leveling the interviewing field and all applicants are equal, the fact is that we all come with baggage and how we show or hide that baggage will leave a lasting impression (i.e. get you the job or convince them that you aren’t suited for it).
You want to share any experience you have to the job you for which you are applying. Perhaps you never did any technical writing, but you were involved in training, have a medical background, worked as a marketing writer – these will show experience and related skills.
At the same time, for each of us, there are things that we want to avoid mentioning. For all that this may be considered sexist, a woman who speaks too much about her children may be considered someone who will readily take time off rather than seek alternate child care solutions. Once you have the job, most companies will be very accommodating for those times when you need to see to your child; but before you get the job, they only want hear about how dedicated you will be to them and to the job. For someone with elderly, dependent parents, telling the company that your parents are having trouble adjusting and they often call you to assist them, makes the company think that you will always be putting the needs of others before the needs of the company.
6) Show that you prefer stability
If you typically stay in a job for many years at a time, make sure that you mention this during the interview.
If you typically hop between jobs, decide whether this is something you prefer or something that has happened as a result of circumstances beyond your control.
If you would prefer to stay long term with one company – mention this in the interview.
Companies prefer not to invest energy and efforts to hire people, only to have to expend that same time and energy then training a new person because you decided to leave a few months later. Unless it is an absolute lie, try to give the interviewer the sense that you are as interested in being hired as they are in hiring you.
7) Don’t be rude
Whatever they ask, no matter how personal, even if you refuse to answer, be polite. Answer politely and directly.
If you are missing one of the key requirements they requested, try to address this rather than hide it. “Although I don’t have the 5 years experience you requested, I thought that given my previous experience….”
If they are late in meeting with you, go with the flow and don’t be annoyed.
Don’t answer your phone during an interview. If you forgot to shut the phone before the interview and it rings, pick it up, apologize, and turn the phone off or silence it. Ideally, close it so that the person won’t call right back and put you in a more awkward position. Conversely, if the person who is interviewing you gets a phone call (even one that is clearly a personal call), don’t be insulted, don’t show any impatience.
8) Keep your answers focused and to the point
In many cases, the company has a set list of questions they want answered. Be direct. Be concise. Give them the information they want without a lot of information they did not request. If you stop talking, they may well ask another question. Flip side, don’t be too short in your answers. If you only offer single word responses, they certainly won’t hire you.
About the Author
Paula R. Stern is the CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company serving the Israel, US and European markets for 19 years. She lives with her husband and children in Israel and teaches technical writing, marketing writing, social media, etc. at the WritePoint Training Center in Jerusalem. Her corporate website is www.writepoint.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @writepoint and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paularstern.