The Skills Employers Look For

The skills outlined in a job description will vary from role to role and industry to industry, but there are skills that are valued by employers across the board. Employers seek candidates who possess and are able to demonstrate a wide range of transferable skills which will vary depending on who the role you are applying for. Look at the job description and person specification to see what each company wants and don’t just assume the same role at two different companies will want the same skills.

The core soft skills that employers look for include:

  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Time management and organisation
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Information gathering, evaluation and synthesis
  • Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability

Competency Questions

Some of these are quite abstract and so can be hard to demonstrate in an interview. Some can be measured using testing, like personality or aptitude tests, but others will be measured using competency-based questions:

Such as ‘Give me an example of when you worked well in a team’.

The best way to answer these questions is by using the STAR principle, which will ensure that you answer the question clearly and concisely, emphasising on how your soft skills helped you achieve your aims.

  • Situation   (What was the context? Where were you and what were you doing?)
  • Task         (What goal did you set yourself? What was the problem or challenge?)
  • Action      (What action did you take? Be explicit about your role.)
  • Result      (What was the outcome? What would you do differently another time?)

An employer won’t expect you to demonstrate all your skills at interview, as you may well have more specialist skills than you need to talk about. Ensure that specialist knowledge you have is highlighted on your CV but don’t forget, skills do not equate to qualifications, which should be treated separately.

Best foot forward

When talking about yourself you will need to display:

  • self-confidence, maturity and resilience
  • willingness to fit in and work co-operatively
  • business etiquette, courtesy and professionalism
  • intellectual curiosity
  • a reflective approach to work and experiences

When looking at the skills asked for by a prospective employer, take the time to consider your skills and write down some examples of how you have put these skills into practice during study, through work experience or volunteering. This gives you a basis for the examples you will be asked to provide during the application process.

For further information or advice on this subject please email or call us on 0333 240 8115

Posted: Thursday 27 June 2019

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