Good communication is the #1 skill that organizations are looking for when they hire and promote their staff.
In the hiring world, good communication is often referred to as “soft skills” or as “emotional intelligence.”
Here’s the Wikipedia definition of soft skills:
Personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with co-workers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.
On the other hand, your “hard skills” are knowledge based, such as technical skills, aptitude, and experience. Those are also very important in a job interview, but what will get you in the door is how well you present your soft skills. That includes your communication skills, your attitude, self confidence, work ethic, time management, and critical thinking.
I’ve been hiring staff for over twenty years – hundreds of interviews at all levels – and I’m here to tell you — soft skills will make or break a job interview (or any other important conversation you have, for that matter)! It doesn’t matter how well qualified you are if you can’t communicate well in the interview.
That’s why it’s critical to work on these skills — the ones we don’t always pay attention to when we are preparing for an interview.
So here they are — my 3 golden soft skills that you need to master before you begin the interview.
1. Bring your best positive attitude. Make sure you pull out all the stops to show you have positive energy. Shake all interviewers hands and look them in the eye with a smile. Add smiles and positive expressions to your language while you are talking. Give examples of how you have contributed to positive employee morale in the past, how you’ve helped motivate others, and how you value a positive workplace. And, whatever you do, don’t be boring! They will forget you as soon as you leave the room. Leave a positive, upbeat feeling in the room when you leave.
2. Pull on your self confidence. Even if you don’t think you have a lot of confidence in yourself, you can come across better if you make direct eye contact, pay attention to the tone of your voice – make it even and slower. And, watch your body language. Sit and stand up straight and keep an open body position (hands at sides, palms open). Practice a power pose and positive self talk before you start the interview.
3. Show you can communicate well. Provide examples of any written materials, talk specifically about presentations you’ve given, meetings you’ve ran, and difficult conversations you’ve handles. Pause, listen and gain eye contact. Don’t interrupt and please don’t ramble on and on. Give short, but complete answers.
Now, go and prepare for the interview — practice responding to potential interview questions. Be ready to stretch yourself if you aren’t comfortable in any of these areas, and go in there smiling. Demonstrate everything you have to offer the employer!
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She is also the Direction of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips. Both are available on Amazon.com.
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