Spongebob Squarepants characters remarking, "I gotta admit, he's got skills"
credit: @spongebob (Giphy)
Answering Questions about Soft Skills: What Will They Ask and How Do I Answer?

Through the hiring process, employers need to understand your potential to thrive in a role. To demonstrate technical abilities you may solve problems, show portfolios, do puzzles, or a small project. Then, of course, there are all of the other qualities that differentiate success: workplace behaviors, attitudes, skills and knowledge. While interviewing, your future boss and teammates need to confirm that you have got high potential in the day-to-day aspects of work, too.

In December 2019, LinkedIn Talent Solutions asked almost 1300 hiring managers about the soft skills they look for and the behavioral questions they ask to assess candidate competencies. Their report revealed these top six:

  1. Adaptability 
  2. Culture Add 
  3. Collaboration 
  4. Leadership 
  5. Growth Potential 
  6. Prioritization

Before you practice any specific interview questions on these topics, consider the times in your life, professional or personal, when these qualities were really tested. What are the stories you can tell that show how your habits and strengths were formed? Having this in mind will help your interview preparation immensely, even before hearing a single question.

For more information about individual questions and what interviewers might be listening for, review the report linked above to see 5 examples for each plus some bonus advice and here are some additional interview practice resources:

  • It is never too early to begin practicing for interviews. Use this short guide to learn the fundamentals and start practicing. 
  • Review the Interview section of Duke Career Hub to identify what tasks you want to work on. 
  • Download the list of sample questions and grading rubric we created for you!

By Cameo Hartz (she/her or they/them)
Cameo Hartz (she/her or they/them) Assistant Director, Engineering Master's Career Services & Professional Development