When we hear the word skills, many of us will immediately think of hard skills, such as proficiency in Photoshop or the ability to speak French. It can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that employers are more interested in hard skills, but in reality, soft skills are equally important.
According to the results of our most recent Employment Monitor, more than half of employers are now looking at how machines can replace human workers. It’s inevitable that technology will take on some of our work, but there are still skills that machines can’t learn. These are soft skills, and they’re the key to coming up with great interview answers.
As the capabilities of computers continue to expand, the ability to move with the times is more important than ever before, so it’s no surprise that employers want staff who can adapt to change quickly. Whether it’s the ability to pick up new skills with ease or turn a campaign around when it doesn’t go your way, you want the interviewer to know that you can rise to any challenge.
A business is only worth as much as its clients, so employers need to be sure that you won’t hurt their brand. Show the interviewer that you understand that the client’s needs always come first. If they know that you don’t stop until the client is satisfied, you’ll be a lot harder to say no to.
Effective communication is fundamental to good business. Employers will want to see that you can communicate effectively on every level, be that with colleagues, management, clients, or customers, so don’t hold back.
Another important aspect of communication is the ability to address sensitive subject matter in a professional way. This could be discussing a delicate topic, or dealing with a problematic colleague, just make sure they know you can discuss things in a rational, professional way.
Whether you’re making multi-million Euro calls or picking out the office mousepads, no employer wants to feel as though they constantly have to look over your shoulder. When it comes to illustrating your decision making skills, you want to show that you have the right process. This involves weighing up all your options, consulting with the experts or those involved, and then making a call. If you can show that you have a thorough process, and the ability to take decisive action, employers will trust your judgement.
Put simply, organisational awareness is knowing and understanding the various aspects of the business, how they function, and the issues surrounding them. It also means that you understand the company culture i.e. what kind of environment you will be working in, the kind of people you’ll be working with, and so on.
When bringing in new staff, employers want to know that they will fit in and get involved with the rest of the company. Organisations function far more efficiently and successfully when everyone is on the same wavelength, so familiarise yourself with the kind of company it is and if you think you’d fit in, make sure they know that by the time you walk out of the interview.
Problem solving is the perfect competency to highlight using the STAR method of responding. This is where you frame your story as Situation, Task, Action, Response. Sticking to this formula will help give your story structure and keep you on message.
The interesting thing about problem solving as a soft skill is that it relies quite heavily on all of the others mentioned here. If you are building a STAR response to highlight your problem solving skills, see how many other soft skills you can include.
When in an interview, it can be tempting to talk about the responsibilities you had in your last job. Although employers do want to know what you were entrusted with, they don’t want you to recite a to-do list. At any point you find yourself discussing duties during the job application process, remember that they’re not interested in action, they’re interested in results. So rather than detailing your work history by describing the tasks you did, tell your story through the framework of what you achieved. You’ll get all the same information and more across, but in a much more relevant and impressive way.
Of course, one inevitable element of interviews that machines will never be able to replicate is the human element. No matter how good you are at your job, employers want to know that you can work well with others. We all benefit from the input of our colleagues, and employers want to make sure that you won’t upset the balance of their existing team.
For starters, it’s important to portray yourself as an outgoing and friendly person. If you can’t socialise with your team, it’s going to affect your performance, so don’t give them any reason to second guess your social skills. Once you have shown that you’re friendly enough to meet the team, you need to show that you’re good enough to join it. To do this, you’ll need to show that you will both support your team, and seek their support and input at the same time. No employer wants the newest person in the company to come in and start working away on their own in the corner. If they did, they’d just buy a machine.
With machines becoming more capable by the day, we humans need to work harder to distinguish ourselves from them. The soft skills mentioned above can help you set yourself apart not only from computers, but from the rest of the competition as well. So work these into as many answers as you can, and you’ll be an interview machine.
Find out what else employer’s think
View the full results of our Q3 2016 Employment Monitor to find out what employers are saying about what can ruin an interview, how Brexit will affect their hiring choices, and more.