No matter what industry you’re exploring or what position you’re seeking, employers value certain qualities or “soft skills” in their team members. When they interview you, they look for these qualities above and beyond your professional skill set. If you can demonstrate these soft skills in your next interview, you’ll gain an advantage over other candidates and place yourself in a position to succeed.
1. Cultural Fit
Cultural fit essentially means how well you get along with others. If the company has a casual atmosphere where jeans are the norm and junior employees rub shoulders with managers, then there may be some friction if you wear a suit and tie every day and value strict adherence to management hierarchy. If the company requires a methodic, by-the-books approach to each project but your work style is more fluid and unstructured, then you’ll set yourself up for personality clashes. When faced with several qualified candidates, managers often choose a new hire based on cultural fit. Make sure you and the hiring manager are on the same page. You can do this by telling him or her about your work style, what you value most in a new job, and what you can offer. You can learn about the company’s culture by asking about their team structure and how projects are run. Remember that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, and it’s just as important to find a company whose culture fits your needs.
2. Career Trajectory
Have you ever asked yourself where you’ll be in five years? Hiring managers ask themselves the same thing when they interview you. No manager wants to spend the time and effort to find a qualified candidate, just to see them leave in a year and have to go through the hiring process all over again. That’s why it’s important to know your own career trajectory and communicate that in the interview. Maybe you envision a vertical career path, while the company’s team structure is flat with no room for promotion. Perhaps you want to grow certain skills by working on challenging projects or attending training. Employers want to know this so they can see if you’re a good fit for the company’s structure and their plans for the future.
3. Technical Aptitude
Companies increasingly rely on technology to work more quickly and efficiently. Employers want to see candidates who are either technically savvy or who are not afraid to try new technology. If you’re a project manager, you should be willing to learn about new project management tools like Jira and Asana. In a collaborative environment, you may be expected to chat in Slack, contribute to a SharePoint team site, and upload your files to OneDrive. It’s a good idea to research and learn about the cutting edge technologies being used in your field before you walk into an interview. Then make sure to ask about these tools, and indicate your willingness to learn any new technology required for the job.
4. Grace Under Pressure
Managers value employees who can keep their cool in tough situations. Whether you’re dealing with an irate customer, an uncooperative coworker, or a critical emergency, your ability to react calmly and not get upset makes you an extremely valuable team member. Unfortunately, no one can predict when these situations will occur. Take the opportunity during your interview to describe how you’ve handled stressful situations so the hiring manager is aware of your level-headed personality.
In an age where employees deal with commuter traffic, doctor’s appointments and school commitments, reliability and timeliness are especially valued. Employers want to know their people will be available when they need them. When it comes to project deliverables or work product, no employer wants to find out about delays at the last minute. Employees who show reliability in their commitments and timeliness in their daily work translate to fewer headaches for the company. You can demonstrate this by showing up early for interviews, always being prepared with a pen and notepad and extra copies of your resume, and sending a timely thank you note after the interview. You should also speak about your ability to meet deadlines and keep managers informed of delays during your interview.
If you’re ready to add these soft skills to your professional repertoire and looking for work, contact us today.