Imagine … you are conducting an interview and you come across Bob, 24, Graduate from a well-established university. You invite him to participate in a technical test in order to find out the level of expertise he has on several programming languages. You notice that he works quickly, pays attention to detail and according to the test result has highly advanced technical skills. You think “This is the one I really need in my team!” The interview process continues and then you meet your last candidate. Her name is Monique, 27, a passionate self-taught web designer who comes across as a very likeable person with good soft skills. Her technical test result was not outstanding, nevertheless it was good. You decide to choose between these two candidates. You invite both to an in-house “Experience Day” hoping that after spending some more time with them you will be able to make up your mind who to hire.
You ask Bob and Monique to work on three little projects with other team mates. At the end of the day you challenge your colleagues by asking the crucial question: “Who should we hire?” The whole team – without exception - told you that Monique would be a dream to work with. Why? They were impressed with her for several reasons. Let me tell you more about it.
Are you wondering what happened to Bob? His technical superiority was certainly clear but he felt so intimidated by Monique’s attitude and people skills that his self-confidence completely vanished. He did not connect well with other team members, was perceived as highly arrogant and thus didn’t seem to be a great fit for that company.
So, what can we learn from this experience? In today’s workplace you need soft skills (so called people skills/interpersonal skills/emotional intelligence) as well as hard skills (known as technical knowledge). What do you think is more important? Many research studies show that hard skills are important but it is the soft skills that will make a company more successful in the long run. An employee with great soft skills is in higher demand than one that is a technical genius but doesn’t get along with others. Employers nowadays want to hire people who already have great soft skills from Day 1. Many companies nowadays are prepared to offer further training if a person’s technical skill or knowledge in a certain area is limited. That is something that can be learnt quickly but the right attitude is something you either have or you don’t have.
I remember often telling jobseekers “It’s the hard skills that will get you the interview, but it’s your soft skills which will finally get you the job!” or how did John Rockefeller say it? “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other skill.”