Interpersonal Skills List and Examples

Tips for What to Highlight on Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

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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 a rapport with co-workers, 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 for 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.