What are Interpersonal Skills?
Interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate, interact, and work with individuals and groups. Those with good interpersonal skills are strong verbal and non-verbal communicators and are often considered to be “good with people”. Whether in your career or personal life, these skills are important for success.
Why Interpersonal Skills Matter
Most of what we do in life requires interaction with other people. In order to be successful in your career or have meaningful friendships, it’s critical to be good at getting along with others. While interpersonal skills are often considered to be something that comes naturally, that you’re either blessed with or not, the truth is they can be learned.
At CFI, our focus is on helping you advance your career. With the objective in mind, we’ve designed this guide to help you:
- Be aware of the importance of interpersonal skills
- Highlight your skills in a way that helps you get a job and advance your career
- Assess your abilities and develop a plan to improve
Technical Skill vs Soft Skills
When preparing a job application the natural tendency is to focus on technical skills. It’s only natural, as most job descriptions focus on specific requirements like accounting, finance, Excel, financial modeling, coding, programming, and related skills.
Most hiring managers actually make their decision based on soft skills, even though they talk about all the technical skills required. According to a recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring manager, interpersonal skills may not only be more important, they are very hard to find (59% of managers reported they have trouble finding people with the right soft skills).
The table below summarizes some key differences between technical and soft skills.
|Technical Skills||Interpersonal Skills|
|IQ (Intelligence Quotient)||EQ (Emotional Quotient)|
|Following Rules||Changing Rules|
|Learned in School||Learned in Life|
|Easily Testable||Harder to Test|
|Can be Learned||Can be Learned|
|Heavy Focus in Careers||Equally Important, Less Focus|
How to Weave Interpersonal Skills into Your Cover Letter
The cover letter is actually a better place to focus on soft skills than the resume. The reason is that interpersonal skills are best demonstrated with stories and examples, which fit more naturally in a cover letter.
Here are some tips for including these skills in your cover letter:
- Identity 3-4 traits from the list provided above that you want to focus one
- Recall a story or example from the past that demonstrates how you possess those traits
- Connect the examples you used to the job you’re applying for
It’s literally as easy as that! If you follow the three steps above you’ll be able to naturally and elegantly incorporate soft skills into your cover letter and increase your chances of getting the job.
List of Interpersonal Skills for Your Resume
When preparing your resume and cover letter for a job application, it’s important to ensure you have an appropriate amount of people skills.
If you’re looking for ideas and examples, here is a list of the most common interpersonal skills:
- Awareness (of yourself and others)
- Caring about other people
- Collaborating and working together well
- Comforting people when they need it
- Clear communication skills
- Conflict management and resolution skills
- Constructive feedback (ways people can improve)
- Diplomacy (handling affairs without hostility)
- Empathy for others
- Encouraging and inspiring people to do their best
- Flexibility in thinking and operating style
- Humorous and lightheartedness
- Inspiring and motivating others to active greatness
- Listening well
- Mentoring and coaching team members
- Networking and building relationships
- Nonverbal cues and body language
- Patience when dealing with others
- Public speaking and presentation skills
- Respect for everyone no matter who they are
- Sensitivity towards the preferences and wishes of others
- Socializing skills
- Team Building and strong at building trust
- Tolerance and respect for team members
How to Assess Your Own Interpersonal Skills
It all starts with self-awareness. Simply by reading this article, you’re already going to be more aware of your interpersonal skills going forward.
From now on, whenever you’re in a group setting or a situation that involves discussion, emotion, decisions, and human interaction, pay close attention to your behavior, and how others perceive or react to your behavior.
Repeat this process for a while until you have a solid understanding of how you behave in interpersonal settings.
How to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills
Once you know where you stand, it’s time to start planning how to improve your interpersonal skills. Some of the best ways to improve are:
- Monitor your body language and ensure you’re not doing things make people think you’re disengaged or aggressive (crossing your arms, looking around, avoiding eye contact, etc.)
- Practice active listening with family, friends, and coworkers and repeat what they’ve said back to them to ensure you’re listening
- Try being friendly and chatty with colleagues
- Practice leading a meeting or presentation setting
- Be enthusiastic and engaged when interreacting with people
- Project an image of confidence and approachableness
Thank you for reading this guide to mastering interpersonal skills and using them to advance your career. To keep learning and advancing, these additional resources will be very helpful:
Interpersonal Skills List and Examples
Examples of Interpersonal Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews
What are interpersonal skills and why are they important in the workplace? Interpersonal skills, also known as people skills, are related to the way you communicate and interact with people. When employers are hiring, interpersonal skills are one of the top criteria used to evaluate candidates.
Why Employers Value Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills go by several names, including employability skills.
That’s the tip-off about the importance of interpersonal skills: they’re so crucial, hiring managers really don’t want to hire candidates without them.
The majority of careers require consistent, if not constant, interaction with other people. This is true even for individual contributor roles that would seem to favor introverted personalities and independent work styles. Even if you’re a software engineer or a writer or statistician, you still need to be able to communicate and collaborate with your team. These interpersonal skills are what make you employable.
Even if you excel at the technical aspects of your job, if you’re a disaster to work with, your presence in the office will not be well received. As a result, it’s important to emphasize your interpersonal skills in your cover letter and resume – and back up those claims with your behavior during job interviews.
How to Include Interpersonal Skills in Your Cover Letter and Resume
You’ll want to reference your interpersonal skills in your cover letter.
You might also be able to include them in your resume, particularly if your resume features a summary at the top, or if your job description is formatted with paragraphs, rather than bullet points.
This is because each interpersonal skill you reference should be connected to an anecdote, or example, of when or how you used this skill.
It's easier to do that in a paragraph rather than a bullet point.
Still, a sentence like, “My interpersonal skills include a great ability to motivate others, develop rapport with coworkers, and resolve conflicts” will fall flat. Instead, show how you used your skill.
For example, you might say, “My ability to motivate the individuals I manage is demonstrated in how consistently I meet, and beat, deadlines without burning out my team.” Or: “My leadership skills helped my team raise sales by 10 percent last quarter, despite the fact that many of us were new to the department.”
Keep in mind that interpersonal skills are very interdependent, meaning that in order to have strong negotiating skills, you will also likely have great listening skills. Try to capture these relationships as they can be a way to discuss two interpersonal skills with just one real-life example. Your anecdote will feel more persuasive and genuine.
Which Interpersonal Skills to Include
Take a look at the interpersonal skills list below, and observe which words resonate with you. You’ll of course want to include your strongest skills – but don’t fudge it. Remember, actions speak louder than words, and you’ll want to be sure that you successfully embody any traits you claim to have once you’re actually interacting with your interviewer.
In addition, you should also pay attention to which skills would be most useful in the specific job that you are applying for. A job in sales, for example, might require communication skills, developing rapport, and persuasiveness. A human resources position, however, might be better-suited for an individual with strong problem-solving skills, an ability to inspire trust, motivational skills, and mediation skills.
Take a look at the job description for the position you’re applying to, and look out for the characteristics they’re after – then use synonyms to describe your own abilities. Match your qualifications to the job by making connections between their requirements and your skills and abilities.
Interpersonal Skills List
Here’s a list of interpersonal skills to use in resumes, cover letters, and job interviews.
A - G
H - M
N - S
T - Z
More Skills Lists: Lists of Skills for Resumes
Related Articles:Soft vs. Hard Skills | How to Include Keywords in Your Resume | List of Keywords for Resumes and Cover Letters