So what are soft skills and how they are relevant to me?
Soft skills are the techniques you need to work with others. The
things you were not taught in engineering school. Skills like working
in a team, networking with other engineers, how to present your ideas,
successfully and gracefully convincing others of your viewpoint all are
considered to be soft skills.
Why do I need soft skills when I possess technical skills?
Technical abilities may be important to get good assignments in the initial
years of one’s career, but when it comes to growing in an organization it is
one’s personality that counts, especially on a large platform where people
with similar technical expertise, proficiency and competitiveness are vying
In a country like India, ‘soft skills’ training becomes even more important
since the education system does not include personality development anywhere
in its stream of academic curricula. Companies are forced to invest more and
more on soft skills training in order to groom their employees to present
themselves in a better manner and improve their performance.
Today’s software engineer in India is no longer restricted to his own area of
work, but has to interact with various kinds of clients, locally as well as
globally. More and more employees are going abroad on projects and assignments.
Tele-conferencing and video conferencing has become the most common mode of
communication. Webex is the most convenient way to communicate across places
even within the country.
Software professionals interacting with international clients must possess good
communication and negotiation skills, team working skills for having healthy
working relationships, time management skills when it comes to meeting deadlines,
leadership and multi tasking skills when it comes to heading a team, business etiquette
for adapting to various business cultures, and so on.
In the IT sector, almost every software engineer dreams of getting an opportunity to work onsite on a live project. Any newly recruited software engineer dreams of climbing up his career ladder; from a team member to a team leader and upward to a project manager and so on and so forth. For this growth, both within an organization as well as through one's entire career, merely being tech savvy is not enough. One also needs to have an ‘all-round personality’ which is nothing but a synonym for ‘good soft skills’.
You are excited, nervous and slightly afraid — afraid you will not get the job,
but even more afraid you will make a fool of yourself.
I know the feeling and, though it will lessen with every interview,
it will never totally go away.
So what do you do?
Cram up on everything you should have read, but haven’t?
Try to predict what the interviewer will ask and then mug up the answers?
Consult your horoscope to help decide whether you are really destined for the job?
Make a pact with God to pray more if you get the job?
Well, there are ways to beat the stress to a certain extent, by preparing both
subject-wise and personally for what is going to be an experience of a lifetime.
After all, you may go through the interview process many times but the first interview is always unforgettable.
It’s OKAY to be nervous
You are not alone — most people find the event stressful.
The secret lies in getting over that feeling or, at least, not letting it overcome you.
Don’t feel nervous because you are feeling nervous! Just remember, feeling nervous is
natural — acknowledge it, accept it and move on. Doing this is not easy, but it is not impossible either.
The first three rules of doing well are:
i. Know your subject.
ii. Know your subject.
iii. Know your subject.
~ Mock interviews
A mock interview is a great way to anticipate questions as well your own responses to them.
~ Make a note of where you falter.
~ Get a friend to play the interviewer or rehearse in front of the mirror.
~ What if an interviewer is extra nasty to you? Or asks you particularly contorted questions?
Take it in your stride. There are times when people try and stress you out to see how you manage under stress.
In most cases, how you answer a question is more important than the answer itself.
The important thing is to keep your calm and answer in a matter-of-fact tone.
~ What if you do not know an answer?
If you have absolutely no clue, it is better to say so than give a really farfetched answer and look foolish.
Be sure not to do this with every second question though or you will certainly look ignorant.
On the other hand, if you are reasonably (but not 100 percent) sure or you know at least some information and can make a knowledgeable guess, go for it.
You could always preface your answer with a comment indicating you are not an expert or that you know a little but not everything about the subject.
Last but not the least — to minimise this situation, try and know most of what you need to know about the interview, your job profile and the company.
Don’t believe rumours
When people come out of the interview, they share their experience with you. Don’t get carried away by everything they say.
Your experience is going to be different and, though you can learn a few pointers, don’t take what they say as the gospel truth. Each interview is unique.
“Good communication skill is a must for software engineers”
You might have seen this line in every job requirements especially
openings in QA and testing field. As testers require communicating
with different project team members including clients, communication
skill plays important role. If you want to win the arguments (I mean
arguments that are right) and find the common solution for your problems
with your subordinates then you should be able to express your views effectively.
Let us see a normal scenario of communication problem within IT industry-
How the client explained the project
How the project leader understood it
How the programmer wrote it
How the analyst designed it
How the business consultant described it
How the project was documented
What the client really needed?
What operation installed
How the project made
Now let us play a simple rapid fire round wherein I will ask some very basic questions and you will have to answer without thinking a moment...right? here we go-
Have you been facing problems in interviews?
Do you fear to deliver any speech?
Do you hesitate to speak in your company meeting?
Do you have problems explaining your views to others?
Do others disagree with you even though you are right?
If answers to these questions are ‘yes’ then it’s time to improve your communication skill.
You should be perfect in all ways of communications like verbal, presentation skill and written communication.
Keep in mind these simple rules for effective communication:
- Listen carefully when others are clarifying their thoughts. Don’t interrupt others in-between.
- Do speak up. Don’t fumble.
- Be brief. Don’t talk on and on about your points.
- Do not speak too fast. Slow down while speaking.
- Speak clearly. Your pronunciation should be loud and clear.
- Do use natural gestures. Don’t be stiff.
- Do vary your volume pitch and tone. Don’t talk without showing emotions or expressions
- Make eye contact with whom you are speaking. This increases chances of mutual agreement.
- Read, read and read. For better communication and effective words in your speech your vocabulary should be very strong. Reading more and more will increase your vocabulary.
So if you want to improve your communication skills...