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Interview Preparation

Interpersonal skills: Definition and Examples

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What are interpersonal skills?Examples of interpersonal skills for a resumeTips to improve interpersonal skillsInterpersonal skills in the workplaceHow to highlight interpersonal skills

Guide Overview

Make a good impression

When applying for a new job, the information you submit is a representation of the employee you are. Recruiters and hiring managers alike review your cover letter, resume, and job application to gauge whether to move forward with the interview process. Making a good impression and highlighting your traits and qualifications relevant to the position can help you secure an interview. Whether you are new to the job market or transitioning jobs, emphasizing your interpersonal skills on a resume and throughout the hiring process can help get you noticed.

 Let's learn what interpersonal skills are and their importance, review a list of typical interpersonal skills for a resume, and discover ways to highlight them when applying for a job. 

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills, or people skills, are the character traits and skills you implement daily to relate to others and communicate effectively in your personal and professional life. Well-developed interpersonal skills to help you work cooperatively with others and successfully navigate relationships are an important aspect of workplace success. Many employers seek employees who exhibit these traits. Interpersonal skills include the ability to communicate clearly with other individuals, understanding non-verbal social cues, and having the empathy needed to build and maintain positive relationships. Good interpersonal skills can affect your success in the workplace and help advance your career.

Examples of interpersonal skills for a resume

You use your interpersonal skills, or soft skills, to collaborate and communicate in all areas of life. They can be improved upon with effort, attention, and practice. Consider including the following list of soft skills to help you stand out from other candidates when applying for a position and as examples of good interpersonal skills for a resume. 

  1. Communication
  2. Collaboration
  3. Leadership
  4. Active listening
  5. Empathy
  6. Relationship building 
  7. Conflict resolution
  8. Critical thinking
  9. Motivation
  10. Self-regulation
  11. Dependability
  12. Organization
  13. Flexibility
  14. Punctuality
  15. Patience
  16. Responsibility
  17. Teamwork
  18. Creativity
  19. Stress management
  20. Resilience
  21. Adaptability
  22. Sociable
  23. Transparency
  24. Confidence
  25. Self-reflection

Tips to improve interpersonal skills

Using interpersonal skills daily to interact with others in public, with friends, or with colleagues at work is a good first step to hone your skills. Modeling these skills deliberately and learning more about ways to practice them in social settings can help you improve them quickly. The following suggestions can support your efforts to improve your interpersonal skills.

1. Seek support from experts

Consider enrolling in a continuing education course to improve your skills. You can find courses available through various outlets, such as community colleges, universities, community centers, and online platforms. Make sure you’re accessing quality material from a viable source. 

2. Visit the local library

Public libraries are good resources where you can interact with others, form social bonds, and research topics that interest you. There are many informative guides and self-help books that provide information on interpersonal skills. You can also check for classes or opportunities to help improve your presentation skills.

3. Search for opportunity and be open to new experiences

Look for ways to socialize within your community and model your skills. Volunteerism is an excellent way to practice your communication skills and support an organization you value or pursue an interest. Volunteering can help you form bonds with others not normally within your social network and provide opportunities for new experiences.  

4. Be deliberate and thoughtful when interacting with others

Make sure you are always aware of your actions and behaviors. Speak your mind with purpose, listen attentively to others, and make a conscious effort to monitor your body language. Try to understand other perspectives and ask questions to help you relate to others effectively. 

5. Ask for feedback

The individuals you encounter daily, such as your family, friends, coworkers, and supervisor, can be a resource to you. Express your desire to improve your interpersonal skills and ask for honest feedback. Their perspective can give you valuable insight and offer information you had not considered. Then, follow through on the constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity to improve. Be deliberate in your actions to improve based on the feedback to show you value their ideas. 

6. Observe others

Look for the qualities you admire in others. Observe their actions and the methods they use to interact. Imitate their behavior until it also becomes a habit and trait of your own. 

7. Set goals

After self-evaluation, set a goal to improve in one way. Be as specific as possible when setting your goal and continuously evaluate your progress. Adjust your efforts if needed until you see the improvement you want. 

8. Be patient

We develop interpersonal skills over a long period, and improvements can also happen gradually. Your efforts are not a final destination, but a process of continued growth. Be patient and flexible in your endeavor to improve. 


Interpersonal skills in the workplace

While you work to improve upon your interpersonal skills, there are steps you can take to model your skills at work and establish yourself as a valued employee.

  • Be positive. An optimistic approach to work and obstacles you may encounter increases the likelihood that you will find a resolution without frustration. Optimism attracts others and is conducive to a positive environment.
  • Support others. Establish yourself as a leader by demonstrating support for others. Acknowledge their contributions to project success and show genuine happiness for their accomplishments. This fosters positive work relationships and increases job satisfaction.
  • Volunteer. Be willing and ready to take on extra responsibilities if needed. Volunteering to support company success can be an excellent learning experience and shows company leadership that you are ready for challenges. This step can situate you for a leadership position in the future.
  • Be on time. Punctuality communicates respect for the position and the company. Someone who is on time to work, to meetings, and for events values their role and establishes credibility among peers as a dependable colleague.
  • Be humble. It is good to acknowledge your own accomplishments and to have pride in your work. However, be sure to refrain from bragging and ensure that you give credit to others for group efforts and team success. Humility is an admirable trait and a quality of some of the best coworkers and leaders.

How to highlight interpersonal skills

When going through the application process, there are a number of ways you can highlight your interpersonal skills to differentiate yourself from other candidates and demonstrate how you fit into the company culture. Interpersonal skills are valuable because they are transferable skills that can help you succeed in different industries and positions. 

Interpersonal skills resume

To write an interpersonal skills resume, review the official job description for the position to which you are applying. Because resumes offer a comprehensive picture of your work experience, educational background, and qualifications, focus only on the interpersonal skills that you identify as crucial to job performance. Succinctly list those under the skills section of your resume. Rather than noting your “great organization skills,” be more descriptive. You can say, “implemented a new organizational system, which increased company productivity by 30%.” When possible, provide quantifiable data supporting your assertions.

Interpersonal skills cover letter

Your cover letter provides a recruiter with an initial idea of who you are. Your cover letter is an opportunity to focus on providing details about your key interpersonal skills. Choose one or two qualities to focus on showing you’re a quality candidate. Because it is longer, it allows for elaboration. Try to use an anecdotal story to support your claim and, as you do within the resume for interpersonal skills, provide evidence of your skills using numbers, like data and percentages. This validates your claim and provides a concrete representation of the impact of your work.

Interpersonal skills during an interview

Highlighting your interpersonal skills during the interview supports the information contained within your cover letter and resume. Upon your arrival, ensure that your cell phone and watch alarms are set to silent. Eliminate distractions to show respect to the interviewer and give them your full attention. Demonstrate strong active listening skills by making consistent eye contact, sitting straight and alert in your chair, and focusing on having an open posture. You can also model mirroring to use non-verbal cues and indicate your interest in the interaction.

Soft skills are becoming a focus for employers. They are qualities that take time to develop but are needed to support a positive company culture and ensure productivity. Including your strong interpersonal skills on a resume and cover letter establish yourself as a candidate ready to contribute to an organization’s success. Exude confidence and highlight your skills by preparing for your interview. Discover real interview questions asked for thousands of job titles.

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