How to answer "What do you think are the most important soft skills for success in your field?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This

Employers ask this question to gain insight into a job seeker’s understanding of the skills required to succeed in the role they’re applying for. Soft skills are important in any job, but the specific skills can vary depending on the field. Employers want to know if a job seeker is aware of the important soft skills required in their field and if they possess those skills themselves.

Soft skills are important because they can separate good employees from great employees. Having excellent technical skills is important, but if a candidate doesn’t possess the necessary soft skills to work effectively with others, they may not succeed in the role. Employers want to know that the candidate they choose will work well with others, communicate effectively, and solve problems efficiently, among other important soft skills.

How to Answer the Question

The first step to answering this question is to research the skills required for success in your field. Look at job descriptions for positions in your field and take note of the soft skills mentioned.

When answering the question, be sure to mention the most important soft skills first. Provide examples of how those skills have helped you in previous roles, and explain why those skills are important for success in your field.

It’s essential to be truthful when answering this question. Avoid listing skills you don’t possess, as this can lead to difficulties once you start the job. If there are skills that you’d like to have but lack, take note of them and explain how you’re working to improve.

Remember to speak confidently and coherently. Practice your answers before the interview to help you feel more comfortable answering this and other difficult questions.

Sample answers

1. Good answer:

Communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability are essential soft skills for success in my field. As a project manager, I need to communicate with team members and stakeholders effectively. Problem-solving and decision-making skills are crucial to ensure project goals are met. Strong teamwork skills help me motivate team members and create a positive work environment, which leads to successful project completion. Adaptability is also necessary to handle changing project needs and timelines.

2. Bad answer:

Soft skills don't matter much in my field since I only deal with computers and technology. If I need help, I can always ask someone online.

This answer is bad because: It shows a lack of understanding of the importance of soft skills, and the ability to work collaboratively with others is an essential skill, even in a technical field.

3. Good answer:

I believe the most critical soft skills for success in my field are time management, attention to detail, communication, and empathy. As a physician, I need to manage my time effectively, maintain a high level of attention to detail, and communicate effectively with patients and other healthcare professionals. Additionally, empathy is crucial to understanding and connecting with patients on a personal level, which leads to better patient outcomes.

4. Bad answer:

Soft skills don't matter much in my field since I'm a researcher, and I spend most of my time in the lab alone.

This answer is bad because: It shows a lack of awareness that soft skills are vital in all fields, even in solitary positions. Research involves working with other researchers, presenting findings, and sometimes collaborating with other departments or organizations. Therefore soft skills like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving are still essential skills in research.

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