How to learn Soft Skills for Interviews Online

Posted 25 March 2021

Blog tags: Interviews


The skills, attributes and traits that enable you to interact with other people fall under the umbrella term ‘soft skills’. This was coined to summarise a person’s social and communication ability, character and personality, emotional intelligence and more. Soft skills are essential to be an effective worker and, as such, they’re incredibly important to get across in interviews. Which can be harder when your interview is online.

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With the growing emphasis on cultural fit and personality, employers are placing more value on this side of job candidates. And that’s in addition to any necessary work experience and ‘hard skills’ you need.

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That’s why demonstrating your soft skills during an interview is so important. You need to convince the hiring manager that you’re aligned both with the team and the job on offer.

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Increasingly, businesses are looking to retain and invest in people who share their vision and values. So, they want to find candidates who are fit for the long term, rather than having high staff turnover rates.

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Not only is it less hassle, they get to keep good members of the team with valuable skills and knowledge. Plus, retaining staff is 13% cheaper than hiring new people.

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But for those having interviews online, soft skills are that much harder to communicate. To help, we’ve put together some tips to consider next time you're faced with an interview online.

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The Importance of Soft Skills

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Soft skills aren’t something you can adopt and practice just for an interview. They are skills that emerge and develop over time with experience, so don’t try to fake them.

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If you do, companies that place value on these attributes will realise your dishonesty as soon as you start work. It’s far better to be genuine and find the company that aligns with your outlook aswell as your skillset. You want to be sure your new team and managers are people you’ll work comfortably alongside.

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During your interview, relax and try your best to give the hiring manager an idea of who you are as a person. This will help them determine if you’re a natural fit for the company and the team you’ll be joining. You may be talking about how you’d work under pressure, but the way you do helps them see if you have the right attitude.  

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Be as authentic as you can and remember, they will be assessing more than just your answers. Your communication skills, sense of humour, social intelligence, common sense and more will all be considered.

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Normally, they could pick up on these quite easily when meeting in person. But it can be much harder when meeting someone for the first time through a computer screen.

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You’ll need to be mindful of ways to promote your best self, below are some things to consider.

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Consider your Tone of Voice

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Remember that most of your body is out of view during online interviews. That limits any reliance on body language to help communicate your points or enthusiasm.

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This places all the more importance on your tone of voice.

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By speaking light and clearly, they will be able to understand your responses. Being more positive and upbeat when discussing areas you’re enthusiastic about will also help them see where your interests lie.

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Don’t forget to test your hardware beforehand to make sure the microphone, headset or speakers are working properly.

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Noting down key points or potential answers can also help relieve anxiety and an anxious tone of voice. As can writing down questions as you’re asked them, so you don’t forget what they are.

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Remember to Make Eye Contact

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We’re all guilty of our eyes being drawn to the preview image of ourselves when on a video call. Having images on the screen besides the person you’re talking to can be highly distracting.

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Maintaining eye contact, just as you would in person, is still extremely important. Which can be challenging on screen as the camera – essentially their face – tends to be set above it. So, looking at each other’s image means neither of you are looking one another in the eye.

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To get around this you need to get into the habit of looking into the camera when you speak. Don’t be put off by how your preview image looks, just focus on the camera and delivering your answer.

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Keeping all distractions out of sight and reach is also a helpful tip. The last thing you want to do is be tempted to look away when you’re being spoken to.

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However, you can make notes during an interview, this is perfectly acceptable. Just let them know that’s what you’re doing so they know you’re still listening, engaging with the conversation and being respectful.

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Small Talk is Important

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Normally in an interview, there’d be some element of informal chat as you enter and get settled for the conversation. But a lot of this is taken away with the efficiency of video calls. The physical distance between the meeting participants also doesn’t lend itself to casual conversations.

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With no or minimal body language perception, small talk becomes even more important.

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Where applicable, try to encourage informal chats at the start and end of the interview. This helps keep the tone light, relieve anxiety, allows you to build a rapport and suss out the hiring manager.

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Do some research beforehand about the business so you can gather a few talking points.

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Have your Answers Ready

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There are usually several questions you can expect to be asked in any job interview. You know you’re likely to be questioned about your education and employment history, and how you approached different work scenarios. These gauge how you handled a challenge, motivated others to achieve, or addressed interpersonal issues within the team.

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Get prepared by writing down example answers ahead of time. List your achievements both from a business perspective, as well as on a personal level.

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You’ll be being assessed for your competence, but also on how you approached problem solving on a variety of levels. Try to reflect this in your answers but keep the anecdotes short and to the point.

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Just long enough to give context, describe what happened, detail the outcome and what you learned from it.

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Mention your Soft Skills in your Answers

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It’s easy to get caught up with trying to find the best answer to the question. Often that means we don’t think to verbally discuss our soft skills.

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These are just as important a part of your answer as any qualifications, hard skills or experience you have. Try to lace your answers with examples of how you work well with others and don’t get overwhelmed in stressful situations. Or how you’ve supported colleagues experiencing personal or professional challenges.

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With each question, consider how you can find a soft skill that applies to its context. This will help you communicate them gradually throughout the conversation. Don’t be afraid to be humorous here, just remember to keep your answers concise while communicating the point.

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Take a Moment to Think

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When you’re answering questions in the interview, remember to take a moment to collect your thoughts before responding.

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Aside from digesting what you’ve just been asked, the interviewer doesn’t expect you to have the perfect answer instantly available. Not rushing your response and taking a moment to consider it can help them see you’re not hasty or impulsive.  

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It’s perfectly acceptable to say you need a moment to think. Perhaps writing down the question or asking the hiring manager to repeat/rephrase it if you’re unclear what they meant.

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Taking a short time to provide a well thought out response can help prove your ability to plan and communicate effectively.

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Practice Beforehand

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In the lead up to the interview, practice different interview scenarios with a friend or family member. That way, you can hear your answers out loud and get comfortable with the online format.

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Use a computer to do so, so you’re getting a similar an experience as you will on the day. And send your mock interviewer some questions ahead of time, you should be able to find applicable examples online.

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Ask them to provide you with feedback and maybe throw in some wild card questions you aren’t expecting. This will help you get comfortable with answering unfamiliar questions and be better prepared for the day.

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It also gives you a chance to prepare your space where the interview will take place. Giving you time to arrange it as you wish and make sure it’s a visually pleasing and non-distracting environment.

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learndirect Careers is the leading UK provider of online courses. With the sole purpose of helping you achieve your career aspirations.

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To find out more about how we can help you on the path to your ideal career, click below.


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