Making Your Soft Skills Stand Out

Posted by Scott Clark on Jan 12, 2017 4:08:26 PM

Interview TipsTechnical prowess aside, what often distinguishes two equally qualified candidates comes down to soft skills.

All else being equal, the job will most likely be offered to the individual with a personable demeanor, solid work ethic and clear communication skills.


Many of us think we already exhibit these attributes. Do you think that these will be evident during the interview?


Maybe. Maybe not.


Regardless, if you are invested enough in the job opportunity to participate in the interview, it’s wise to practice how you can convey these skills during a conversation with a hiring manager.


Nobody knows your career history better than you do. How you tell it, however, has much to do with whether you receive an offer or you don't.


Consider the S.O.A.R. method: describe the situation, explain the obstacles, discuss the actions taken, and provide the results.


This is a succinct form of persuasive storytelling, and when done right, gives the hiring manager the clearest sense of how you could add unique value to the role.


We have seen this method lead to fruitful contract offers for numerous clients, including a gentleman who used his financial background to open up a career in Air Force Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR). Prior to the contract, he had zero experience in FIAR. His winning formula was the combination of a general finance background, a personable demeanor, and a teachable attitude. It was a classic example of hiring for personality and training for skill.


In another example, IR, Inc. helped place an accounting professional on a research project for the Department of Agriculture. Originally from Nigeria, where she earned her accounting degree, this employee stood out to the hiring manager because of her soft skills – her ability to work well with a wide variety of personality types, her aptitude for research and documentation, and her reputation for being extremely thorough.


Regardless of your professional background, even in a seemingly crowded labor category, there are ways to make yourself stand out. Instead of waiting for anecdotes or examples to come to mind during the actual interview, take time beforehand to identify your S.O.A.R. stories.


Doing so will help you persuasively describe the how behind what you did – not just the perfunctory description of duties.


It can be as significant as a project you managed that led to top line growth or as simple as typing up your portion of an audit report, so your project manager wouldn’t have to do it. What’s key here is to tell your story through examples that will show the hiring manager how your soft skills make you a team asset.

Topics: IR, Inc. Interview Tips