Apart from creating a great CV, it is important to garner basic and important soft skills. Recruiters look out for certain qualities and skills during interviews. Often times, soft skills form the basis for a recruiter’s hiring decisions. Here are some of the top valued soft skills and how to cultivate them;


Commercial Awareness: The importance of being commercially aware cannot be over emphasized. During an interview, recruiters usually look out for candidates who understand the firm’s position relative to its competition and how emerging business trends affects its profitability and those of its clients. Recruiters want to know how well you know their business, the market that surrounds them and people they deal with. Commercial awareness gives you an edge over other candidates. It requires a lot of research about the company, business trends and opportunities.

Analytical skills: A demonstration of analytical skill during an interview or assessment would go a long way in hiring decisions. Assessment of analytical skill usually comes in form of situational judgment, inductive reasoning, numerical tests, etc. This skill is usually listed as an essential requirement on job description. Another way of testing analytical skill is by asking hypothetical questions like: “How many balls can fill a plane? If you were given 1million naira today, how would you invest it?” Most of these questions do not have a right or wrong answer; they are basically to test your line of reasoning or thought process. This skill is very important for a lawyer because it is used in deciding the best piece of evidence to present to the court; how a law affects a particular case and so on.

Time management skills: Time productivity involves constant improvements to the way one performs work. Recruiters want to know if you are able to meet deadlines. They also want to know how you maximize your time in getting the job done! You cannot manage time but can manage how you use your time. You can cultivate this skill by setting exact goals, prioritisation, self-motivation, focus, planning and decision making. It is not something you learn in a day but consistency is key.

Team work: In practice, it is very unlikely that you perform work without the help of others or working in some capacity with people. Team work is a very important soft skill required by many firms. For some, it is part of their core values. Its test is based on how well you can work with people around you. It also tests how well you can lead a team, especially in cases where you have more experienced persons as team members. Good communication is very important in achieving great team work skill as it enables you build positive relationships.

Good communication: This is a very vital skill for every lawyer. It is a ‘mainstay skill’ in legal practice. You must be able to express yourself fluently both orally and in writing. This is usually tested during interviews in form of case studies. Attentive listening is an important way to cultivate this skill. Another way by which you can improve good communication is by joining clubs, association and participating in similar activities.

Confidence: According to the Cambridge Advanced Learners dictionary, confidence ‘is the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future’. Confidence is basically selling your ability in order to gain your recruiter’s trust. Some firms may require you meeting with clients and negotiating deals and recruiters want to ensure that you believe in their values and you are able to communicate their services with confidence.

Emotional Intelligence: This is the ability to recognize your emotions and they affect people around you. It involves your perception of others and management of relationships. According to Daniel Goleman, an American Psychologist, in his book titled “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can Matter More Than IQ, 1995”, the five elements that define emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Emotional intelligence can be developed and improved by working on these five elements.

Willingness to learn: ‘No man is an island’ is a popular expression which means no one knows it all. The fact that you have attained a first class degree from your university doesn’t preclude you from learning. Learning is constant in its entirety. You can show willingness to learn by asking questions, taking up challenges, volunteering and so on.

In conclusion, soft skills are valued by recruiters and can be improved upon overtime. It is important that when talking about your soft skills on your CV or in an interview, you give practical examples of how, where and when you have exercised any of the skills.



Written By:

Laura Adewole,
Obafemi Awolowo University.
Content Provider, Legal Pages.