January 27, 2021

There is finally light at the end of the tunnel for job seekers, with hiring activities gaining moment following the lull when the pandemic struck in early 2020. During this slow period, TCS leaders and experts were able to reach out to avid readers like you via the TCS Careers Blogs to share their views on a gamut of themes and topics like tips for an effective resume, making a mark digitally, tips for emotional wellbeing & mental health, mastering life skills, pursuing a career at TCS research & innovation, etc.

Now, with hiring gaining steam, we have decided to address another important discussion area within careers – building soft skills for interviews.

Contrary to popular notion, there is more to soft skills than mere communication and interpersonal skills. Soft skills also include the candidate’s personality and business behavioral traits required to perform a role efficiently. Simply put, soft skills are the non-technical and non-domain skills related to work or a role. While the general list of soft skills is quite extensive, we will focus on the ones that the hiring managers look for during interviews.

It is essential to note that some of the skills are desirable across all the roles while some are role specific. The importance of soft skills should not be undervalued, especially by those who are seeking customer-centric roles where direct and frequent interaction with clients is a key requisite. Moreover, soft skills are the main evaluation parameter for freshers with no prior professional experience.

Exploring What Makes for Soft Skills

Interview questions on soft skills can help the evaluator gauge the candidate’s strengths in the following areas:

Communication

As orthodox or old-fashioned as it may sound, communication can make or break a deal. Therefore, this is a must-have skill that every interviewer considers while evaluating a candidate regardless of the designation/role. Listening, in fact, is the most underrated skill of many candidates. Attentive listening helps in responding clearly, concisely, and correctly. It also helps one memorize all instructions related to carrying out a task. With online collaboration tools fostering immediate sharing of ideas, hyper-connectivity and synergy among regional, national, and international stakeholders, mastering communication is your first step to excel.

Collaboration and teamwork

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ is not just a platitude. Today’s hyperconnected world expects an individual, no matter how competent, to collaborate within and outside the team and come up with outcomes towards achieving common goals. Being empathetic is one of the main requisites for collaboration and teamwork.

Ownership and responsibility

Candidates who demonstrate qualities such as ownership and responsibility are entrusted with higher assignments that could lead to role enhancement. Willingness to take the initiative and ensuring the task to a successful completion requires a lot of discipline. It also calls for your accountability and taking responsibility for failures. Ownership and responsibility are one of the essential skills that hirers look for in candidates aspiring for leadership roles.

Time management and prioritization

In a fast-paced competitive business world, time is of the essence, and hence every small activity is time-bound. Therefore, the ability to complete work within stipulated timelines and deadlines is crucial. Likewise, having the judgment to decide the sequence of tasks in the order of their priority is what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. The interviewers may present an imaginary or a real-life business situation to check if you have a knack for time management and prioritization.

Analytical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making

When confronted with complex scenarios in the corporate world, it is important to stay calm and resilient. By doing so, you will stay focused and can think analytically even during tough times. Resilience and focus help in putting things into perspective for effective problem-solving and decision-making.

Negotiation skills

When employers seek to hire candidates for leadership roles, negotiation is an important skill. Influencing stakeholders through the art of persuasion and curating solutions that are beneficial to all stakeholders concerned calls for negotiation skills. Additionally, these skills also come in handy when conflict resolution is the ask.

Adaptability

Globally, the business ecosystem, along with enterprises, has been rapidly evolving. Naturally, the incumbents need to be agile and develop quick thinking to adapt themselves to frequent dynamics and challenges. Change is the only constant, particularly in a start-up environment or technology-centric organizations.

Additionally, organizations even look for some implicit qualities like innovation, integrity, sincerity, eagerness to learn, etc. Such qualities have ethical and moral leanings.

Confidence and a positive outlook

The confidence to be able to deliver to the best of your potential with a positive frame of mind goes a long way in attaining individual and team goals. Grounded optimism along with the passion to excel also inspires one’s teammates to realize their potential.

Developing your Soft Skill Arsenal

The first step to develop soft skills is to recognize the gaps, which is quite a challenge, as there aren’t many perfect assessment mechanisms around to gauge the soft skills quotient. The best way is through self-reflection, and by seeking honest feedback about yourself from trustworthy people.

Being honest about self-evaluation findings and being open to people’s candid opinion about you will help you discover your strengths and areas of improvement.

The next step is seeking learning avenues to build the skills you need for career advancement. Internet research and assistance from professional career consultants or coaching institutes are a good starting point.

Also, learn by emulating. Watch leaders or peers that you interact with. The people that bring out the best in you at work, will likely be the ones that not only possess domain knowledge but also use their soft skills to the optimum when assigning tasks, offering constructive criticism or taking ownership of a problem. Another good way to harness soft skills is by signing up for a mentorship program if such an opportunity becomes available to you.

Although this blog endeavours to address some common soft skills, it is not an exhaustive manual for interview evaluation. It is important to note that different organizations have varied expectations about the soft skills of jobseekers.

But we do hope that this blog has enhanced your understanding of soft skills in the context of job interviews while encouraging you to develop them. Do share your insights and knowledge about soft skills along with feedback about this blog via an email at careers@tcs.com. We wish you success in your career.

Murlidhar has over 20 years of experience in areas spanning Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and Employer Branding. He has been a part of the lateral and campus hiring spaces in the IT industry. In his current role as a Content Specialist, he combines his Talent Acquisition functional knowledge and Content Marketing skills to position TCS as an employer of choice. A keen traveler, Murli also has an ear for music, especially for movie background scores and philharmonic concerts.