When you step into an interview, you’re on a mission to position yourself as the best candidate for the job. To do so, it’s important to showcase the soft skills that employers are after.
What exactly are soft skills? Soft skills are professional assets that an employer can’t teach easily (though they can be learned). Soft skills that you may be familiar with include time management, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and more.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 97% of employers find soft skills just as important or more important than hard skills. Job seekers need to keep that statistic in mind when talking about what they can bring to the table.
While it may be impossible to reconstruct one’s personality and experiences for an interview, the potential employee can highlight the soft skills they possess. Want to learn how to address soft skills during the interview process? Keep reading to nail down the perfect responses to soft skills interview questions.
10 Interview Questions That Test Your Soft Skills
Applicants often talk about past job experiences and hard skills during an interview. While this is important, much of this is already on your resume. So it’s important to find windows of opportunity to discuss your soft skills in an interview. For ideas on weaving soft skills into your answers to common interview questions, read on.
Tell me about yourself—what is your experience?
While it’s good to mention professional details (previous employment, career path), this is also a good chance to jump into mentioning some soft skills.
Don’t immediately respond with, “Hi, I’m Jessica, and I’m a great communicator.” If possible, tell a short story that displays your proficiency in a certain soft skill. Or tie your soft skills into your discussion of previous work experiences.
For example, “In my previous role, collaboration was a huge part of achieving goals. Learning how to communicate effectively within my department and with other departments in the company was a valuable part of that role. I’m excited to put those same teamwork and communication skills to work in this position.”
What is your biggest strength?
Of course, this is the right place to mention any hard skills relevant to the job. But don’t forget to mention soft skills as well. Pick one or two and explain why they are relevant. Don’t just say that critical thinking is key in marketing, for example, but explain that it’s important to use critical thinking skills when understanding the target audience.
For guidance on what soft skills to highlight, check out the job description. There are most likely soft skills in the description that the employer has specifically stated they would like.
What is your biggest weakness?
This is a question that applicants dread being asked. But answering the “What is your biggest weakness?” question is easier when you’re prepared. And your answer doesn’t have to be perfect—the hiring manager understands that everyone has areas that can be improved.
To weave soft skills into this answer, you can talk about a certain skill you’ve struggled with but are currently working to improve. Just make sure that the skill you talk about is not a core part of the job. For instance, saying that you struggle to stay organized in a fast-paced environment won’t go well.
Tell me about a challenging situation you’ve experienced at work. How did you handle it?
Whether this is your first job interview or your 50th, you can expect a few behavioral interview questions to pop up. To answer, pick a situation that required soft skills to save the day. A great example to discuss would be a conflict between teams.
Maybe the sales team didn’t agree with how the marketing team was trying to attract customers, and it took interpersonal skills to get everyone to the same side. Whatever it is, don’t blame others, and highlight how the situation was handled. Practice saying the story ahead of time to cut out unnecessary details and ensure that the answer is relevant.
How would your friends describe you?
There are a few variations to this question, like “How would your coworkers describe you?” or “What are three words that your friends/colleagues would use to describe you?” No matter how phrased, this soft skills interview question provides the perfect opportunity to share the positive traits you possess.
The hiring manager wants to know what kind of person you are beyond your resume and if you’d fit into the company culture. You can approach this question by sharing a story that illustrates one of your strengths. Alternatively, you can pick one key trait that you’ve showcased throughout your relationships that really stands out.
What are some things you like to do outside of work?
There is no right answer to this question because the hiring manager just wants to get to know you better. Instead of racking your brain for a response that’ll make you seem cool, pick a few of your favorite hobbies, and work in soft skills that feel natural.
Go for a run every morning? This showcases discipline and stress management. Part of a book club? This is a great indicator that you love learning and socializing. Whatever extracurricular you mention, make sure it highlights positive traits.
Why did you apply for this job?
If you read the job description and researched the company, this interview question should be a breeze. Explain aspects of the job description or company that appealed to you, like the opportunity to work in a collaborative atmosphere or with a group that strives to produce the highest quality of work.
Employers are looking for someone who doesn’t mention that they were applying for every job out there because they were desperate or someone who didn’t even read the job description. While you want to have a good answer, the takeaway here is to say something about the job that shows you are actually interested.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Whether you are a new college graduate or a career professional, there is no foolproof response. According to The Muse, the best response is to be realistic about your long-term career goals and how you see the role helping you get there.
So, what does this mean for you? Be honest, but bring up any goals related to the job. A driven person who is well-rounded in what they want out of life will appear more interesting than someone who doesn’t know or someone who doesn’t care to grow.
How would your current/previous manager rate your performance?
This is another question where it’s obviously best to be positive. In other words, don’t say your manager dislikes you. As far as exactly how to respond, though, the best approach is to mention specific areas where you have successfully worked.
It’s okay to bring up some areas where you had to improve as well, but make sure to show that you have learned from your mistakes and grown as an employee. Remember to work in soft skills—pick 2-3 talents you have and harp on those.
What questions do you have for me?
This is a great time to emphasize that soft skills are important from a candidate’s perspective as well. Ask about the team you’ll be working with to try and gauge some of the personalities and level of collaboration.
Do you need more inspiration to answer this interview closer? Read our favorite interview questions to ask during an interview to impress the hiring manager and learn more valuable information during your interview.
Improve Your Interview Skills Today
The prospect of interviewing can be nerve-wracking. But with the right preparation, you’ll approach it with confidence.
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Learn how to emphasize the soft skills mentioned in this article and how to be a more confident candidate that will stand out in interviews. Book a mock interview with InterviewFocus today to get started on your path to landing the perfect job opportunity.