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Interviews: The Top Six Skills Employers Are Looking For

by Lorraine Rise M.S., CPRW

In 2016, LinkedIn surveyed over 1,300 hiring managers to uncover the top skills that employers are screening candidates for. Soft skills in particular can be some of the most difficult to evaluate. The managers revealed that they most value the following skills, in this order: Adaptability, Cultural Fit, Collaboration, Leadership, Growth Potential and Prioritization.

It’s interesting that adaptability tops the list because older job seekers often get stereotyped for not being adaptable enough already. They are often assumed to be resistant to change or unwilling to learn new technologies. I work primarily with late career professionals and I know this to be completely untrue in most cases. Many older workers are in fact very willing to work and learn new skills and technologies!

Whenever you have a stereotype to overcome, or a perceived weakness, the best strategy is to get ahead of it and control the story around it. That means you should proactively share examples of adaptability throughout your career when writing your resume and cover letter, and in the interview. Don’t wait for the employer to ask about. Weave it into your conversations with them.

The same strategy is true for the other five skills. Knowing that these are the areas of interest to employers, you can anticipate their needs before they even ask! This will elevate your interviewing skills to the next level. Some exceptions here are Cultural Fit and Growth Potential which are not actual skills themselves. These are slightly more abstract concepts and employers will determine them based on the summation of all of your other skills and qualifications together.

Here are your action items to help you prepare for interviews:

  1. Brainstorm at least two specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated each of these skills and write them down. Include the details and use the C.A.R. format (Challenge, Action, Result).
  2. Practice talking about these examples out loud. Practice in front of a friend or mirror. It’s one thing to say it in your head, and another to say it out loud.
  3. Identify your weaknesses and prepare responses for them. Are you worried about looking too expensive or over-qualified? Are you concerned about looking outdated with technology? Prepare your rebuttals for these ahead of time and you’ll be more confident in your responses.

Knowing what employers are looking for sometimes is half the battle. This survey by LinkedIn should provide you some insights into that. Use the tips provided to increase your confidence and readiness for showcasing these skills. You have them—you just have to be able to communicate them.