Earning an online degree from an accredited university not only looks good on your resume, it can also help you in the interview itself.
How? In addition to professional know-how, online degree programs tend to teach you the all-important “soft skills” that employers look for. Soft skills are the personality, attitude, and social traits that characterize your interactions with others.
Here are four soft skills that are learned in an online degree program…and how to communicate them in an interview.
1. Work in a Team.
Online degree programs often place you in versatile team environments—both virtual and in-person through residencies in certain programs. And your ability to work in teams is a huge draw for employers. As workplace collaboration changes due to technological advances, employers want to know that candidates are able to maximize their contribution to the team’s productivity.
Before your interview, think about a project you did in your online degree program where effective teamwork led to success. Be prepared to discuss your strengths at working in a team, including:
- What did you do to contribute to the team’s success?
- How did you maximize others’ strengths in the team?
- What are some insights you have about communicating with team members in disparate locations?
2. Think Critically to Solve Problems.
When a difficult situation occurs, employers want to feel confident that their employees can quickly assess the situation and uncover solutions.
Refresh your memory about the different types of problems you had to tackle while earning your online degree. It could be specific to a project, class, or another aspect of your learning experience. Be able to articulate:
- How did you approach solving an urgent problem?
- What is your strategy for evaluating a situation and coming up with solutions?
- When did you see an opportunity to make a project more efficient?
3. Plan and Prioritize Work.
With organizations seeking to run as efficiently as possible, time management becomes an essential and marketable skill. Employees need to be able to manage projects, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines. Job candidates who are skilled at time management are in high demand because they get more done in a shorter period of time.
Many students earning their online degrees are working adults, and time management practically becomes second nature. Plan to discuss these skills by being ready to answer:
- What processes did you put in place to be more efficient with your time while earning your degree?
- What did you do when a project was taking longer than anticipated and was in danger of not being completed by deadline?
- How do you prioritize tasks in your day?
4. Communicate Effectively.
Communication is about more than just sharing helpful and timely information; it is a vital component of the everyday work environment that can lead to a company’s success or its downfall. Leaders need to be able to convey clear directives and rally support for projects. They also need to be skilled at interacting with clients and knowing which messages will be most effective for each constituency.
Think about how you demonstrated competency while earning your online degree. You had to effectively communicate in order to gain credit. Mentally prepare before you go into an interview by thinking about the following questions:
- How did you communicate with your teachers, advisors, and classmates?
- What is your communication style and what do you do to interact successfully with people who have different styles?
- Think of a time when communication broke down. How did you solve the problem, and what did it teach you about how to be a better communicator?
When you apply for a job, you need to convince an employer not only that you have the technical ability to perform well, but that you are the best person for the job. When you are prepared with specific examples about your proficiency with the soft skills employers want most, you will stand out from other candidates.
The Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.