5 Ways to Showcase Your Smart Skills in an Interview

You’ve prepared for that all-important interview and feel you’re the ideal candidate for the job. In fact, the job description is screaming your name.

You possess the required education. Check.
You have the job experience. Check.
You’re familiar with the company, its products and services. Check.
You connect with the mission and values of the company. Check
You’re a “cultural fit.” Check.

This is all good. Your technical proficiency – schooling, training, experiences – is key to getting your foot inside the “interview door,” but in today’s competitive work environment it’s not the only skill that matters in landing the job.

There’s no question soft skills play a role in most hiring decisions. In fact, it’s the candidate with the stronger soft skills who often is offered the job. Individuals with effective soft skills tend to climb the proverbial ladder of success faster and companies benefit, too.

Soft skills, which I call “smart skills,” refer to one’s personal attributes including communications, manners, respect, team building, empathy, courtesy, motivation, likeability, ability to delegate and social behavior.

Soft skills and the ability to “play with others in the sand box” require adaptability even at a young age. Soft skills may come naturally to some and others may need some “softening.” It’s like those who take to the ski slope like a dancer, swaying down the mountain, and others who enroll in ski school to learn the basics.

Soft skills are not innate. They are learned, and like anything that involves excellence, they are honed over time. Use the following five tips to help you showcase your smart skills in your next interview.

1. Shine with self-confidence and poise. First impressions matter. Dress professionally for the interview, introduce yourself, smile and offer a firm handshake.

2. Your body language speaks volumes. Exhibit positive body language by maintaining good posture, sitting at edge of chair, leaning in, nodding and using hand gestures and maintaining eye contact.

3. Communicate effectively. Your interview is a great opportunity to demonstrate your communications skills. Beforehand, practice your responses to questions and be prepared to make small talk before the interview gets underway, which highlights your positive social behavior. Throughout the interview, be ready to ask follow-up questions, which will reinforce your interest in the position and the company.

4. It’s all in your attitude. Display a positive attitude and arrive with energy. Share examples of how you improved employee morale in a past position and how your positive attitude and energy helped motivate your team and fellow colleagues.

5. Abide by the golden rule. The old adage, “Treat others like you want to be treated” shows the interviewer you value respect, courtesy, honesty and integrity – core values important to any company or hiring manager.

Developing your soft skills is the most valuable investment you can make. There is no other investment that creates a greater return.

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Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs

Nancy is an empowering leadership and professional development coach who founded Polished. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate world serving in leadership roles in marketing and communications and believes passionately in developing people, especially their interpersonal skills.