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When looking for a new role, many candidates focus all their energy on promoting their technical skills and experience. Of course, demonstrating relevant experience and industry-specific knowledge is vital, but it isn’t always enough to secure the role.
With large numbers of candidates of a similar calibre often chasing one job, most employers carefully evaluate soft skills in order to select the most suitable person for the position and the organisation.
Here are five areas to focus on during the interview process as well as questions to look out for:
It sounds obvious, but don’t suppress your enthusiasm and excitement about a role (within reason of course!) Employers want a candidate who is genuinely interested in the organisation and passionate about what they do. Put all your energy into your interviews and don’t give the impression you’re ambivalent about the position.
Questions to look out for:
- What do you think you could bring to the role?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What draws you to this industry?
These are great opportunities to highlight your enthusiasm for the role and what in particular excites you about the organisation, team or industry. You're looking to build rapport with the recruiter or hiring manager, so take time to learn as much as you can about the company and position, and use this knowledge to express enthusiasm.
An interview is a good opportunity for employers to assess your verbal communication style, and ability to express your ideas. Before an interview, practise talking about your experience out loud. Try to keep answers clear, concise and to the point. Good communication also requires you to be an excellent listener, so always pay close attention to exactly what’s being asked of you.
- Tell me about yourself
- Tell me about your background
Long, rambling answers can come across badly, so it is advisable to have concise responses prepared to basic interview questions that may come up during the job interview. ‘Tell me about yourself’ is a common question, and having a structured response is important - learn more about how to respond to this question here.
Remember to listen and don't be thrown if the question asked is different to the one you’ve prepared. Take your time to formulate a response and adapt it to the question that has been asked.
Potential employers look for lateral thinking and an innovative approach to tackling tricky situations. A natural problem solver who takes a creative approach to solving business issues is highly desirable to any employer. Make sure you think of tangible examples to highlight your aptitude for overcoming obstacles and generating successful outcomes.
- What are your strengths?
- How do you go about solving problems?
- Describe a situation in which you dealt with confrontation
Questions such as these allow you to use specific examples to showcase your skills. Consider situations in which you have used your problem-solving skills and explain what you did to reach a positive outcome.
Your ability to positively influence those around you is a critically important attribute. Do you negotiate effectively with different teams and individuals? Can you confidently build solid business relationships at all levels of an organisation? Gather examples of how you have achieved this in the past.
- Describe a situation where you worked as part of a team
- Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people
Preparing answers where you have positively influenced others are useful for questions that ask you to give an example from your past work. Choose an example that is impressive and best highlights soft skills, such as your ability to persuade and negotiate.
If you’re looking to progress up the ranks, you’ll need to inspire confidence that you have managerial aptitude. You need to prove that you have an inclusive approach, the ability to engage with employees at all levels, and are looking forward to taking on responsibility for the success and wellbeing of others. Most of all, you’ll need to prove your ability to forge effective, lasting business relationships.
- Are you a leader?
- Describe a situation in which you have led a team
- What makes a good team leader?
Use this type of question to showcase your managerial skills and the qualities you believe are needed to make a good leader. If you’ve had experience managing teams or projects, highlight these and explain why you enjoyed the management aspect. By giving examples of times in which you’ve managed tricky situations, it will inspire confidence in your management ability and aptitude.
Remember, technical ability and relevant experience should always go hand-in-hand with great communication, change management and interpersonal skills.
For more interview advice, check out our interview tips here.
During the interview process, be conscious of promoting your soft skills. Tailor your responses to demonstrate skills such as:
- Enthusiasm: for the role, team and industry
- First-rate communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Powers of persuasion
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