While soft skills aren’t typically explicitly tested in interviews, they can be a huge part of what makes or breaks a hiring decision—not to mention playing an important role in making employees successful in any work environment. Whether you’re looking for a new role or hoping to advance within a company, focus on these soft skills that top companies look for in potential and current employees.
From email etiquette to in-person conversations, companies rely on effective and transparent communication both between and within teams. When you’re interviewing for new roles, make an extra effort to be polite and effective on email, as well as when you meet the team in person. If you’re already with a company, be thoughtful about your communications with colleagues—even if it feels like a chore at first, it will soon become second nature and take up no more time than before.
When a company makes a full-time offer, they’re making an assumption about your work output and basing a salary on the value you’ll bring to the company—as well as trusting that you’ll be able to manage your time in the office accordingly. It’s therefore costly to the company’s bottom line to make hires with poor time management skills, and great for them if you end up being more efficient than expected. Showcase your time management skills in interviews by bringing up instances when you were managing multiple projects at once and managed to create positive outcomes across the board.
Companies are just teams, and teams are made of people. The ability to work well with others is therefore crucial to any employee’s success, can play a critical role in their team’s performance, and may even affect outcomes for the company. Be prepared to talk about your teamwork skills in interviews, regardless of the role you’re shooting for.
Feedback is a key lever companies can use to improve performance, and giving and receiving feedback is therefore an important skill for employees at every level. Practice not only delivering feedback with empathy, but also receiving it without getting defensive or blaming others if you don’t like what you’re told.
Similar to time management, companies want employees who can not only work efficiently, but who are also motivated to do so on their own will. A good way to demonstrate this skill is by highlighting times you’ve gone above and beyond in the workplace, or when you’ve taken additional initiative in an extracurricular activity.
Tech companies are known for rapid change and innovation, and they need employees that can move with them. Before your interviews, think about a time when the scope or deliverables of a project were changing significantly. How did you adapt? What tools enabled you to uphold a high level of performance given the uncertainty around what you were working on?
Also tied to time management, more organized employees are often more efficient in their work, ultimately benefiting the company. The degree to which you’ll need to demonstrate organizational skills will depend on the role you’re looking for, so take note of whether the company is looking for a more Type A person to keep track of multiple work streams, or if they’re prioritizing other skills.
This one is vague and difficult to measure, though some larger companies are even starting to administer online tests before interviewing candidates—in part to probe problem-solving skills. Whether it’s solving a technical problem or a conflict between colleagues, having better problem-solving skills can help you to thrive in any work environment.
Job postings will often list ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ as a desired qualification, so it’s important not to forget about creativity, which can make you more effective in any role. Particularly as companies move from being strict hierarchies to more flat structures and meritocracies, they need employees who can come up with creative solutions on their own.
Companies are always under time pressure, whether from investors, customers, or internally, and thus need employees who can think on their feet and aren’t scared to take on the responsibility of making decisions. Even if it ends up being the wrong decision in the end, someone has to make the call, and belaboring the decision isn’t a good use of anyone’s time.