What are soft skill competencies? How are they tested and why are they so essential to include on your CV? This is called the competency based interview model. I was working as a career coach at one of the top French business schools, helping graduating students to decide which direction to take in their careers, prepare them for potential job interviews and tighten up their CVs.
I quickly realised that I was having a hard time to differentiate the students from each other. They all had good educational backgrounds and diplomas. They all were bilingual French and English. They all participated in several internships. They all seemed bright and eager.
However, their CVs were all the same. Not only were their CVs boring to read but it was hard to understand what made each student unique? Or what were their natural strengths or soft skills?
I shared my observation with the head of the career center and suggested that maybe they could consider to include their soft skill competencies. You know, things like, are they able to convince and persuade? Can they organise and plan? Can they break down problems and drive solutions, in an analytical manner? She replied, “Erica, we don’t teach this to our students because they are not measurable.” I thought to myself, “wow, with unemployment for young graduates at around 20% across Europe, it’s essential to be able to sell yourself and show how you are outstanding, or you’ve lost the game. You won’t be hired.”
Plus, these are the things that will be tested in the most widely used interviewing model today. It’s called the competency based interview.
Here is a list of the main competencies that HR people look for and test in the job interview:
- Communication (verbal and oral)
- Client / Customer Oriented
- Result Oriented
- Team Work
- Interpersonal skills
- Can work under Pressure
- Time Management
Once you’ve been able to identify your soft skills (via different tests which can be recommended) then you need to come up with examples in your professional life which can illustrate you have this competency.
The Competency Based Interview basically means this: What you did in your past, means you can do it again in the future. HR people seek to find this evidence.
So, we ask you questions in which we expect you to come up with examples where you were analytical in resolving or taking a key decision in your current or past job? Or, how did you plan your last marketing launch? Or, what have you done which proves that you are pro-active? What did you do when you anticipated an issue before the problem arose? Or, how have you demonstrated that you are flexible? Have you worked outside your main domain of activities? Have you been able to shift priorities if necessary? When, on what project? What happened?
Whether you’re starting out your career or an expert, with 20 years of work experience under your belt, we are still going to use this competency based interviewing model, so you need to be prepared to search in your memory bank and be ready to shine in that dreadful interviewing moment, when you are under the spotlight.
If you can’t sell yourself now, can you be an ambassador of our product? Of our service? Of our brand? Why are you special? What makes you unique? What differentiates you from the rest of the bunch? Be bold. Don’t be afraid to shine your true colors? Be proud of your accomplishments. Show how you think? What makes you tick? What makes you, YOU.
Erica Elias is a certified business and career coach (www.interviewnow.be) and has interviewed more than 6,000 people, with www.mindworks.be. She is also an author and her books can be found on these links: https://www.diekeure.be/nl-be/professional/1434/recruitment-a-z and https://www.amazon.com/Interviewing-Global-Economy-Multinational-Corporation/dp/147833536X