What are soft skills?

Soft skills, or transferable skills, as many call them, are personal traits and social abilities that help work with others effectively. Read through our soft skills guide for examples., tips and top soft skills interview questions.

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By Jagoda Obszarska, Senior Content Editor, TranslatorLast Updated: March 28, 2024
soft skills

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Skills are one of the key aspects, along with education and experience, that determine your suitability for a job. They specify what you can do. However, your skills are not limited to your working life, are they? By definition, skills are divided into soft and hard skills.

Soft skills are non-specialised skills that are applicable in many situations, which means that they are transferable.  

The range of soft skills includes abilities in the categories of:

  • Personal skills
  • Social skills
  • Methodical skills.

Personal soft skills often tell us about character: they consist of e.g. persistence, motivation or readiness to act. Social skills indicate how we interact with others, while methodical skills refer to observation and drawing conclusions, or dealing with specific professional situations. However, the boundaries between these three categories are quite fluid. 

In this article, you will learn the soft skills meaning, find out the difference between hard and soft skills, as well as discover key soft skills examples for different professions and more.

Hard skills vs soft skills

These two terms are probably not unfamiliar to you, especially if you are already an active member of the labour market. Although so common, many people still have doubts about the differences between them. So before we focus on the definition of soft skills themselves, let’s learn what are hard and soft skills:

Hard skills are generally considered to be skills that are directly applicable to a given profession. These are technical skills, specific to a particular task. Examples of hard skills are knowledge of specialised software, project management or proficiency in foreign languages. 

Hard skills are generally considered to be skills that are directly applicable to a given profession. These are technical skills, specific to a particular task. Examples of hard skills are knowledge of specialised software, project management or proficiency in foreign languages. 

In contrast, soft skills are non-technical skills. The soft skills definition says these skills are transferable, which means that they are useful in many situations and jobs. Soft skills are often related to personality traits. There are so many soft skills that they are divided into three main categories:

  1. communication skills
  2. interpersonal skills
  3. networking.

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Top soft skills examples

Given the multitude of applications of soft skills, employers also value them. That is why when you’re writing your CV, it’s worth adding them to your skills section. . 

Here are the top soft skills examples:


The ability to communicate effectively encompasses many aspects, from spoken (verbal) communication, to written communication, to non-verbal communication including body language, facial expressions and the ability to maintain eye contact. Good soft skills communication can determine whether you are understood well. On the other hand, poor communication, the inability to clearly convey or receive information, can lead to misunderstanding, resulting in a significantly disrupted workflow or worse.

Team work

Working with others is one of the most common requirements for many professions, so it's good to have it in your skillet. Professionals in many industries need to have well-developed teamwork skills to ensure a smooth, conflict-free and productive workflow. To perform well in a team, you need to be able to receive and pass on information, including feedback or criticism, be able to think creatively and adapt to different situations. Working in a team is above all about working with people. Remember that everyone can have a bad day once in a while. Empathy and mutual respect are the keys to success.

Leadership soft skills

A good leader cares not only about the team's performance, but more importantly about the team. This challenging role requires a combination of many soft skills. These include decisiveness, assertiveness, but also empathy, respect and approachability. Of course, soft skills for a manager will also include effective communication, feedback, critical, as well as creative and analytical thinking and problem solving. Quite a list, right?

Attention to detail

You can do something once and do it right, or you can do it poorly and correct it a dozen times, or worse, hope that nobody will notice. Usually, however, such oversights come to light, and in some professions they are downright unacceptable. Attention to detail is a trait of balanced, accurate and diligent people. Surely, you understand why this quality is so valued among employees.


Attitude towards work, towards tasks and responsibilities, is of great importance. Among other examples of soft skills, attitude is one of those directly related to personality. A good attitude involves motivation, patience, attentiveness, kindness, empathy and diligence, among others. Employees with a good attitude are not only eager to work, but also create a pleasant atmosphere in which others are happy to stay and work.

Critical thinking

The ability to independently assess a situation, draw conclusions and make informed decisions is what is expected of good employees, regardless of their profession. Critical thinking consists of soft skills such as observation, analysis and decision-making, but also of active listening and communication.


Employers value employees who can quickly adapt to a new situation without compromising productivity. In today's world, things are changing very rapidly. Many employees have experienced a quite radical change from on-site to remote working, but the changes can also be less drastic, such as learning new software, changing working hours, having to increase efficiency due to deadlines... Those who are able to adapt quickly to these changes are on the right track to success.

Decision making

Decision-making is a challenging and responsible process. In order to make informed decisions it is necessary to have a good understanding of the situation, to actively listen, analyse and draw conclusions. It also involves other soft skills examples such as self-confidence and decisiveness.

Problem solving

The process of problem solving involves noticing a problem, identifying its causes and introducing a solution. To make it go as smoothly as in theory, it requires a combination of several skills: observation, communication, active listening and mediation. Problem solving is an important trait among employees, especially in managerial and leadership positions.

Time management

Time management can refer to your time or the time of other employees. Organisation and time management are extremely important in determining the amount of work and planning tasks. Effective time management consists of prioritising, managing, meeting deadlines, but also delegating and finding time for rest as well as balancing work and private life.

Other soft skills list:

  1. mediation
  2. negotiation
  3. punctuality
  4. work ethic
  5. honesty
  6. ability to compromise
  7. coping with stress
  8. approachability and tolerance
  9. creativity
  10. resourcefulness
  11. curiosity and willingness to learn 
  12. ability to maintain a work-life balance
  13. assertiveness
  14. compliance with rules
  15. networking

Importance of soft skills in the workplace

Employers value versatile employees and are well aware of the importance of soft skills in the workplace. It turns out that more and more employers actually believe that soft skills are more desirable among potential candidates than technical skills. Why? For a simple reason. 

Hard skills can be learned relatively quickly on the job: using some software, operating a machine or performing a specific task. However, learning soft skills is somewhat more difficult due to the fact that many of these skills are derived from interpersonal skills and character traits. For example, a person who is very shy and introverted by nature will struggle with public speaking or networking. 

Soft skills are the basis of life in society. Interaction with others would not be possible without empathy, communication, respect or negotiation. Similarly, in professional life, in order to find one’s place in a company, it is necessary to co-exist with other employees and also to interact with clients. Soft skills motivate further development, a good attitude turns into good results and this brings mutual benefits for the employee and the employer.


Soft skills cv examples

Soft skills are applicable to any industry. You’ve likely noticed that in order to be effective, many CV skills need to go hand in hand. Check out our soft skills list grouped by profession:

Soft skills examples for an accountant:

  • Integrity and high work ethic
  • Attention to detail
  • Good communication (both verbal and written)
  • Customer service
  • Time management

Soft skills examples for a receptionist:

  • Kindness and approachability
  • Excellent communication 
  • Great phone etiquette
  • Good memory to names and faces
  • Multitasking

Soft skills examples for a banker:

  • Strong verbal and written communication
  • Negotiation skills
  • Assertiveness and eloquence
  • Time management
  • Ability to perform well under pressure

Soft skills examples for a barber:

  • Great customer service
  • Time management
  • Good communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity

Soft skills examples for a builder:

  • Dependability and responsibility
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management
  • Adaptability to different conditions
  • Creative thinking and problem-solving

Soft skills examples for a practice nurse:

  • Empathy
  • Good verbal communication
  • Ability to work in stressful situations
  • Good organisational skills
  • Critical thinking

Soft skills examples for a makeup artist:

  • Attention to details
  • Creativity
  • Time management
  • Approachability
  • Customer-oriented

Soft skills examples for a deputy manager:

  • Ability to provide feedback
  • Critical thinking
  • Decisiveness
  • Problem solving skills
  • Active listening and analytical thinking

Soft skills examples for a personal assistant:

  • Adaptability
  • Excellent oral and written communication
  • Time management
  • High work ethic and confidentiality
  • Resourcefulness

Top 10 soft skills interview questions

A clever interviewer will weave these questions into the interview so that you won’t even realise you are being asked about your CV skills and soft skills training. Stay alert, you may hear variations of these soft skills interview questions:

  1. Give an example of conflict in the workplace and how you dealt with it.
  2. Describe how you would behave when a teammate challenged your decision.
  3. Describe how you would resolve a conflict with a problematic client.
  4. How do you prioritise your tasks?
  5. Do you prefer to complete one task long but thoroughly or several tasks quickly but inaccurately?
  6. How do you behave when you notice that a teammate has made a critical error?
  7. Describe a failure you had at work and what it taught you.
  8. Give an example of a creative, out-of-the-box solution you implemented at work.
  9. Give an example of how your working conditions changed during the lockdown and how you adapted to them.
  10. What is important to you when working in a team?

Soft skills training

A fundamental part of soft skills training is to analyse and identify skills gaps. Soft skills and hard skills cannot be measured in the same way. What is more, quite frankly others are more likely to quickly notice these gaps than us. 

Developing soft skills is an ongoing process. If you too are one of those wondering how to improve soft skills, you have several options:

Consider enrolling in soft skills courses: Many workplaces provide their own in-house training in this area. If this is not the case for you, you can find a whole host of soft skills courses online, both free and paid, with a certificate. 

Observe your behaviour: Analyse how you conduct yourself in everyday work situations. To start with, be aware of it.

Be open to feedback, suggestions and constructive criticism: these are often not aimed against you, but are a great opportunity to learn and develop.

Open up to others: maybe it’s time to stop hiding behind a screen and accept that invitation to hang out with your team after work.

Practice effective communication: When you talk to someone, give that person your full attention. Listen actively, look towards your interlocutor, maintain eye contact and don’t interrupt. Make sure you understand. Conversely, when you are the one giving information, be confident, express your commitment with your posture and use clear, straightforward messages. Don’t confuse your audience by using overly complicated vocabulary or convoluted sentences.


  • Based on the above soft skills examples, we can conclude that soft skills meaning is as important as the importance of hard, technical skills in the workplace. 

  • Soft skills are transferable, which means that they are applicable in many situations and professions. The combination of soft skills and hard skills contributes to maintaining a smooth workflow, good relations between employees, and therefore effective performance. 

    Recruiters pay a lot of attention to skills on a CV and often ask soft skills interview questions similar to those above. 

  • If you want to develop your skills, join a soft skills course or, based on observation and analysis of your behaviour and the behaviour of those around you, consider your own soft skills training. Practice networking, try to have a good attitude and open up to other people. This is the best start!

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Jagoda Obszarska

Senior Content Editor, SEO Content Writer

Meet Jagoda Obszarska – a certified copywriter, Polish language translator, and seasoned career adviser. Thriving on constant self-improvement, she eagerly stays ahead in her field. With a rich background working with individuals from over 50 countries, Jagoda has successfully completed more than a thousand projects in copywriting and translation.

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