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Interviewers look for these 8 key skills in candidates

Every job requires a different knowledge base and ability, but beyond that, there is a set of essential job skills and competencies that will increase your value with just about any employer.

These are the competencies that are prized in both entry-level roles and senior-level positions, in different industries.

So naturally, these are also the skill sets to highlight in your resume, cover letter, and interview talking points. And if you’re lacking in any of these areas, we’ve got suggestions to help you develop and become a stronger candidate.

During a job interview, interviewers look for a range of skills in job seekers. Here are some of the most commonly sought-after skills:

Communication skills: Employers want candidates who can communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. This includes the ability to listen actively, express ideas clearly, and convey information concisely.

Sample Communication Skills Interview Questions:

  • “Tell me about a difficult client/manager/teammate you had to deal with.”

  • “Tell me about a time when you had to be very careful in communicating sensitive or delicate information.”

  • “Give me an example when you had to present complex information in a simplified way to explain it to a superior.”

Problem-solving skills: Interviewers look for candidates who can identify problems, think creatively, and come up with practical solutions. This involves being able to analyze information, evaluate options, and make informed decisions.

Sample Communication Skills Interview Questions:

  • Describe the biggest work-related problem you have faced. How did you deal with it?

  • Describe a situation where you faced serious challenges in doing your job efficiently. What were the challenges, and how did you overcome them?

  • Tell me about a time you predicted a problem with a stakeholder. How did you prevent it from escalating?

Adaptability and flexibility: Employers want candidates who are adaptable and able to work well in a fast-paced and changing environment. This means being able to adjust to new situations, learn new skills quickly, and be open to feedback.

Sample Adaptability and flexibility Interview Questions:

  • If you could change something in the course of your life, what would it be?

  • How do you adjust to changes you have no control over?

  • Describe a time when you showed flexibility at work.

Leadership and teamwork skills: Interviewers look for candidates who can work collaboratively with others, inspire and motivate team members, and take on leadership roles when needed. This involves being able to communicate effectively, delegate tasks, and resolve conflicts.

Sample Teamwork Interview Questions:

  • Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult person.

  • Have you ever had a conflict with a coworker?

  • Tell me about constructive feedback you’ve received.

Technical skills: Depending on the job, interviewers may look for candidates who have specific technical skills or knowledge, such as proficiency in a particular software program, familiarity with a certain type of equipment, or expertise in a specific field.

Time management and organizational skills: Employers want candidates who can manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines. This involves being able to plan and organize work efficiently, multitask effectively, and stay focused on the most important tasks.

Sample Time Management Interview Questions:

  • How do you plan your work when you have multiple conflicting tasks?

  • If you are expected to report to several managers, how would you prioritize your duties?

Emotional intelligence: Employers increasingly value candidates who have high emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to understand and manage one's own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This involves being able to empathize with others, build relationships, and communicate effectively.

Sample Emotional intelligence Interview Questions:

  • Tell Me About a Time You Experienced a Setback and How You Dealt With It.

  • How Do You Respond When a Coworker Challenges You in a Meeting?

  • Tell Me About a Time You Experienced a Conflict at Work.

Attitude/ Taking Initiative: Probably the most sought-after skill almost every interviewer secretly looks for. If your attitude is right, education and experience will follow. No point in hiring the most qualified or experienced candidate if his/her work attitude is flawed.

  • “Tell me about a time when you took the initiative on a project without being asked.”

  • “Tell me about a time you improved a process or procedure at work.”

  • “Give me an example of a time you went above and beyond your job description.”

  • “Describe a major obstacle that you had to overcome.”

Remember, it is not mandatory that every candidate/job seeker will have the above skills. But knowing what skill you are good at, what you need to develop, and what you don't have and need to learn is very important.


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