If you have ever wondered what interviewers most value, know that you need to develop these top three soft skills.

One of my favorite habits in Stephen Covey’s Seven Basic Habits of Highly Successful People is “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” This habit teaches us to “listen actively” to someone else’s perspective without emotion and bias that can sometimes ‘clutter’ arriving at a win-win situation.

While each interviewer has different expectations (sometimes depending on the level of the position), some of the same characteristics (soft skills) are a universal requirement for any interviewer. If you have ever wondered what interviewers most value, know that you need to develop these top three soft skills:

Assertive Communication: The way you communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, in an interview sends a strong message. Interviewers look for people who can relay information efficiently, positively, and skillfully. Some interviewers might use the terms “good listener/effective communication.” Behaviors associated with this skill include:

Operates from choices
Knows what is needed and develops a plan to get it
Action-oriented
Firm
Trusting
Realistic
Emphasizes the positive
Fair, just
Consistent
Proactive
Takes appropriate action toward getting what is wanted without denying the rights of others
The job seeker looking to get an offer from the interview must practice the skill of assertive communication throughout the entire interview process and even afterward in the follow-up written communication.

Teamwork/Collaboration: The next soft skill interviewers are assessing in the interview is the ability of the job seeker to work with all levels of the organization and especially with customers to deliver the employer’s product or solution. Some interviewers might use the term “team player/collaborator.” Behaviors associated with this skill include:

Confidence in yourself
Relationship builder
Empathetic of others
Willingness to ask for help
Encourages involvement
Shares thoughts, feelings, and rationale (for the betterment of the whole vs. the individual)
Builds on others’ ideas
Supports group decisions
Interviewers and employers want valuable contributors who can “play well with others in the sandbox.” Job seekers should be prepared to provide examples of successes working efficiently and effectively with diverse workforces.

Critical Thinking: The third soft skill interviewers want to hear about is the job seeker’s ability to understand how the position and job responsibilities ‘fit into’ the overall mission, vision, and values of the organization. Some interviewers might use the terms “judgment/problem-solving.” Behaviors associated with this skill include:

Sees the ‘big picture’ and how the job they are interviewing for impacts it
Explores options (gather data/facts and test the data/facts)
Asks questions
Weighs pros and cons/impacts of alternatives
Informs others when necessary
Commits to the most appropriate action
Reviews the results and learns from failures and/or successes
Critical thinking is an important skill for a job seeker in the interview situation. The way to craft your message is to first understand what the interviewer is looking for and then articulate how you meet those expectations by offering concrete examples of past experiences.

Be the candidate employers want to hire! Practice your ability to brand your message by using specific examples involving the characteristics of assertive communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. Doing so will eventually lead you to an offer!