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Education, work experience and expertise are what employers look for in job seekers. These are fundamental hard skills or core competencies employers expect a candidate to have. Employers also expect competence in soft skills, which speak to job readiness. Soft skills are personal behaviors that contribute to the candidate’s effectiveness on the job. Examples of soft skill competencies to exhibit during interviews include professionalism in dress and mannerisms, communication skills, enthusiasm, the ability to think, and self-confidence.
Act Like You Mean Business
Gain an interview advantage by conducting yourself in a professional manner. Professionalism is how you act or present yourself. This means taking the time to prepare for the interview, arriving on time and being able to answer questions with intelligent, in-depth discussions versus one-word answers. It also means presenting yourself in business mode by dressing appropriately for the interview. When in doubt about what to wear, err on the conservative side. Be clean, well-groomed, and tone down the cologne or perfume.
Cover All the Communication Bases
Communication as a soft skill involves more than speaking well. Effective communication requires active listening. Pay attention to what is being said so you can formulate the proper response. Don’t try to conjure up responses without fully listening to what is being said or asked. Effective communication also involves unspoken messages. This means you should mind your body language, including facial expression, hand gestures and posture. Make sure your body language portrays a positive message. Don’t frown or slouch.
Enthusiasm Breeds Success
Show enthusiasm to portray job interest. Avoid being deadpan or uninspiring. Just don’t go overboard. There are several ways to demonstrate enthusiasm during the interview. Talk in an upbeat manner when answering questions and discussing your experience and skills. Smile occasionally and avoid appearing negative, argumentative and disingenuous. Job seekers who have the right qualifications and portray eagerness and enthusiasm have an advantage over those who don’t.
Think on Your Feet
Interviewers learn a lot about you by the way you handle questions. Responses demonstrate your ability or inability to think on your feet. Having an ability to formulate and articulate a well thought-out answer is a valuable interview soft skill. It means you have critical thinking abilities and can draw on your personal knowledge database to answer questions. It does not mean you have all the answers, but the ability to think and process information in a timely fashion.
Confidence on Display
Put your confidence on display during the interview. Know your worth and communicate it confidently. While some nervousness is normal, do not let your nerves get the best of you and make you appear unsure. Reign in the nerves by taking a deep breath, then speaking clearly and confidently about your job credentials and how you can help the employer. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer when talking. Do not appear overzealous or come off as arrogant. Proper interview planning, preparation and practice go a long way in cinching the confidence factor.
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Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.
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