Interpersonal skills are more commonly known as soft skills—skills such as being able to listen well, manage your time like a boss, and lead a team meeting that leaves everybody smiling afterward—and are often essential to clinching a job offer and wowing a new boss.
Being able to identify your interpersonal skills and give examples of them is a critical part of any job interview. But if you’re having trouble identifying those skills—or figuring out how to translate them on a resume or into a new job—you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you single out and show off your interpersonal skills to potential employers.
What Are Interpersonal Skills & Why Do They Matter
Interpersonal skills can be defined as character traits, personal attributes, and other non-technical abilities that help you work and communicate with other people. So, it’s easy to see why a potential employer would want a job candidate to display some of these skills.
While hard skills are a must-include on any resume, you shouldn’t add them at the sacrifice of the interpersonal skills that deftly pull the threads together to achieve those hard-hitting outcomes. It’s as much about the back-story, replete with the how and why you performed the way you did and the intricate relationship weaving, influencing, analyzing, listening, innovating, change driving, negotiating and global communications, as it is about the result. These details help an employer see how you’re able to get the outcomes you’ve achieved.
What’s more, a huge part of the hiring process is trying to figure out if you’ll fit into the company—both it’s company culture and with your new coworkers. An employer wants to know that you’ll be able to collaborate—taking unified lockstep to realize one person’s plan or goal. Collaborating means hearing people out, melding different ideas together, and building toward a shared objective—and these things all come from interpersonal skills.
The Most Valuable Interpersonal Skills
There are dozens and dozens of interpersonal skills—so how can you identify which ones are the most important? We’re here to help you weed out the ones you’ll want to show off.
Communication consistently ranks among the most important skills for a candidate to have — and that includes both verbal and written. Employers like seeing strong communication skills because it can help you work effectively with clients and coworkers to get results.
Problem-solving skills are another kind of interpersonal skills that employers really value. An employee who can present creative solutions to complex problems creates tremendous value for the employer and makes him or herself invaluable to a company, experts agree.
A positive attitude—and maintaining one in even difficult situations—is another invaluable interpersonal skill, because it can help in nearly every situation you encounter in the workplace, from collaborating with others to identifying creative solutions. Simply put, having a positive attitude is absolutely crucial if you want to stand out from your peers.
How to Show Off Your Interpersonal Skills
If you’ve ever come across a resume that truly pops, chances are it’s because interpersonal skills have been tightly integrated with accomplishments. Hard numbers may reassure an employer that you’re a safe bet, but they inspire little passion. Adding interpersonal skills to your resume helps you show off who you are as a person and what makes you different.
But how do you show these skills off? One way is with the STAR Method to Reframe Career Accomplishments, which helps you break down your accomplishments into the results and how you got them—which is an easy way to show off your interpersonal skills, experts say.
Here’s how the STAR Method works:
S = Situation. Ask yourself, what was the problem? Be as specific as possible. Overly general accomplishments do not work.
T = Task. What was the goal?
A = Action. Then, identify which specific steps you—not your team—took to reach the goal.
R = Result. What was the final outcome of your hard work? Take time to talk yourself up.
After you’ve identified your STAR accomplishments, integrate them within your resume. You will quickly see that this method lends itself to showing off your interpersonal skills.
Another way to show off interpersonal skills is to scan the job listing for any soft skills it may have mentioned. If you spot them, you should take care to illustrate those specific skills on your resume. If you don’t, make a list of the qualities you think might be helpful to have in the job. You can match this list with the interpersonal skills you know you have.