Questions about Your Skills and Abilities
There are two categories into which skills fall: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical or tangible skills you use to do your job. Generally they are the ones you've learned through your education and training. Soft skills aren't specific to any type of work. They are skills one can use to do any job well. Soft skills can include problem-solving, decision-making, multitasking, and delegating. When an employer asks about your skills, she wants to know that you have the ability to do the job if she hires you. It is likely that she is only interviewing people whose resumes indicate they have the proper technical skills. She is looking for the person who can do the best job, using both their hard and soft skills.
Tips for Answering Questions about Your Skills and Abilities
Answer questions about your skills and abilities by giving examples of when you've used them. For example if the interviewer asks you if you are a good problem-solver, don't just say “yes.” Talk about a situation you were in when you had to solve a problem. Explain the situation and talk about the steps you took to solve it. Then discuss the results of your actions.
If you don't have a particular skill, don't say you do have it. The truth will come out. However, if you think it's a skill you can master fairly quickly, then you could say that you don't have that skill yet but you would be willing to learn it. Then explain how you can go about doing that.
We learn skills both on the job and in our lives outside of work. If you attained a skill outside of paid employment, say so. Again be specific about where you learned that skill and how you used it. Your goal on a job interview is to let the employer know what you will do for his company. When he asks you about a particular skill, take the opportunity to let him know how you will use it to his company's benefit.
A job interview isn't the time to be modest. Brag about yourself. No one will do it for you. Saying you have particular skills is not enough. As long as you're being honest about your skill level, talk it up! Let the employer know how great you are at this particular thing.
Sample Questions about Skills and Abilities
We use the ERE system for scheduling appointments. Are you familiar with that program?
If you, the job candidate, have used this system, of course your answer will be yes. You will go on to talk about where you used the system and your success with it. If you haven't used that particular system, what should you do? First of all, don't lie and say you've used it. You will be found out, maybe sooner than you expect, since the interviewer's next question may require you to talk about this program. If you used a similar program, talk about your skill in using that program. Then stress your willingness and ability to learn this one. You may not get the job if the employer won't consider someone without that skill, but you'll be in a better place than you'd be if you claimed to have a skill you don't have.
This is a very fast-paced office. Do you mind dealing with multiple projects and tight deadlines?
By asking this question the interviewer wants to know how skilled the job candidate is at managing her time and how she works under pressure. He also wants to know how good she is at multitasking. The job candidate, by giving specific examples of how she uses these skills, will demonstrate her success in that type of environment.