5 Skills to Emphasize During an Interview

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Mar 16, 2021

Mar 16, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

Landing an interview is one thing, making a good impression on hiring managers, often through several rounds of an interview process, is another. The interview process can be highly unfair, with qualified and talented candidates overlooked because they failed to draw attention to certain experiences and competencies that would have otherwise been highly impressive. To improve your chances of getting the job, below are 5 skills to emphasize during an interview. 

Microsoft Excel Skills

Most digital natives, and certainly anyone who has worked in an office during the 21st century, have used Microsoft Excel. If you rely or have relied on it for your current or a past job, you likely know a decent amount about it. You are probably aware of a handful of commonly-used formulas, how to convert a table into a plot or bar graph, and how to do some basic formatting work like merging cells, wrapping text and hiding, adding and deleting rows and columns. This, however, is barely scratching the surface. 

If you have in-depth Excel knowledge--such as an understanding of VBA and how to create macros--this is something you should highlight during your job interview. Advanced Excell skills are, at their core, data analysis and synthesis skills, and these are in high demand across industries. If you would like a way to add instant value to your resume, consider taking an online Excel course to give you the superior Excel skills that are sought after by employers. 

Written Communication 

The remote work revolution has already happened and there is likely no going back. Most of your meetings, at least for the foreseeable future, will be virtual, and your conversations with managers, colleagues and clients will take place via email, Slack and Zoom. In short, in addition to the occasional video call, you will be communicating in writing with most of the people in your professional life, most of the time, from here on out.

While it is unfortunate to have lost much of the in-person, face-to-face communication and interaction that added the human touch to our workplaces, focusing on the skills of the future is all you can do, and written communication is undoubtedly one of those. During an interview, you can draw attention to your superior written communication skills by highlighting any writing experience you may have (e.g., as a freelancer, or even as a hobby), and mention any internal communication or reports you might have helped draft while in previous positions. 

The implications of being a good written communicator are far-ranging. If you are able to communicate thoughts and ideas well to your colleagues, managers, and clients, you are able to avoid misunderstandings, improve workflow and efficiency and ultimately have a positive effect on productivity and the bottom line. 

Cybersecurity and IT

The digital era is replete with digital threats, which means cybersecurity is a must-have and growing investment for businesses large and small. Furthermore, the most pressing and dangerous cybersecurity threats are almost always right inside most companies: their employees. This is not because there are so many nefarious employees out there. In fact, it is just the opposite. There are far too many poorly informed employees when it comes to cybersecurity best practices and understanding

 If you want to stand out from the crowd, highlight your cybersecurity skills and knowledge. This could include things like your understanding of authentication and authorization best practices; network security and how and why remote employees shouldn’t use unsecured networks to access work data and documents; using VPNs, firewalls and antivirus software; and illustrating your understanding of current cybersecurity threats and trends surrounding ransom and other malware, phishing, hacking and the internet of things. 

Data Analysis 

Data analysis skills are high-value regardless of the industry. If you are working in an advanced service or anywhere in the knowledge economy, knowing how to parse and synthesize data into actionable information is something employers are eager to have on their team. If you have a data analysis certification, you should make that one of the centrepieces of your CV and try and spend a significant amount of time discussing it during the interview. 

Multilingualism

A global economy and labor force mean that if you work for a modern organization, you are going to be working alongside, with and for colleagues and clients who speak a multitude of different languages. The more of these languages you are able to communicate in, and the more markets around the world in which you are able to forge and maintain strong working relationships and partnerships, the higher value you are as an employee in a large multinational organization. 

If you have translation certificates to your name, that’s even better. You don’t necessarily even need to be entirely fluent in the languages you speak in order to add value. If the company’s lingua franca is English, but their business involves partnerships and frequent communication with suppliers and customers in another country, and you speak that country’s first language at even an intermediate level, that is enough to add tremendous value. 

Conclusion

It is an unfair fact of life that many qualified candidates who would otherwise be fantastic fits for a role are passed over because they don’t know how to interview well. Being a good interviewer involves things like active listening, good self-presentation and the hard skills required for the position, but it also means knowing how to sell yourself, and that requires knowing which of the skills that you possess are most in-demand, add the most value and, therefore, which to focus on.