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Interpersonal Skills: Definition, How To List On A Resume & How To Improve

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Are you applying for a new job and want to stand out from other applicants?

Having unique or lucrative skills gets you a foot in the door. Interpersonal skills are some of the highly coveted and required skills in many industries.

Having them on your resume can significantly improve your chances of landing an interview.

Continue reading to learn what interpersonal skills are, how to list them on a resume, and how to improve yours.

What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are the ability to communicate well with other people.

They are basically what we call social skills.

They are a group of skills like listening well, effective verbal communication, and connecting with others that make socializing possible.

A person with good interpersonal skills tends to be more social and approachable and gets along well with others.

A person lacking interpersonal skills is harder to approach, doesn’t listen well, has trouble communicating their needs or understanding those of others, and can be shy or retreat in social situations.

Why Are These Skills Important?

Interpersonal skills are vital for effective communication when working with groups or individuals.

Those with strong interpersonal skills build good working relationships.

They can also work well with others because they understand them well and can easily communicate their expectations and results.

Another reason interpersonal skills are vital is that they help solve problems and make good decisions.

Due to their ability to understand others well, they can make the best decision for everyone.

Companies look for people with fantastic interpersonal skills because they work well on teams, handle clients exceptionally well, and collaborate effectively.

They are enjoyable people to have around and tend to make good leaders.

During a job interview, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for a candidate with the best interpersonal skills that match the job.

Every role is different and emphasizes a different set of interpersonal skills.

Having a broad range of interpersonal skills and perfecting those required in your career gives you the best chance of getting hired.

Types of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are a set of skills you might possess, and there are different types, fitting various occasions and settings.

You can be gifted in one or two interpersonal skills or have mastered all types. The five types of interpersonal skills are:

Effective Interpersonal Skills

Efficacious interpersonal skills are those that are honed and perfected.

A person with effectual interpersonal skills can adapt to any professional or personal situation and use their skills well.

These skills have become a part of the person’s identity, and they use them well to further their personal and work relationships.

Workplace Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills that are necessary for the workplace are known as workplace interpersonal skills.

These skills are a requirement for a person to successfully hold a job and advance in their career.

Jobs where you spend all or most of your day working alone, like a truck driver, do not require workplace interpersonal skills.

However, most jobs do, and you are required to display a few of them to get the job.

Communication Interpersonal Skills

The skills you need to properly get your message across and understand other’s points of view are communication and interpersonal skills.

Knowing how to communicate with others is a skill you cultivate with time, exposure, and proper training.

We first learn from our parents and siblings, teachers and other students help us perfect the basics, and communication classes ensure we perfect our skills.

Leadership Interpersonal Skills

You need to have interpersonal skills to be a good leader. These are specifically the interpersonal skills required to take on a leadership role.

They encompass leadership, communication, and other technical skills.

DBT Interpersonal Skills

Dialectical behavioral therapy ( DBT ) interpersonal skills are the skills needed to grow strong roots in your community and build and maintain healthy relationships.

These skills equip those with disorders, trauma, or mental health issues with skills to connect with other people and form meaningful relationships.

10 Most Common Interpersonal Skills

Here are the most common interpersonal skills needed in workplaces:

Effective Communication

Being able to listen well, share your thoughts articulately, and interpret and respond to non-verbal cues is all part of effective communication.

Effective communicators also know how to talk to people from different backgrounds and places.

They can empathize, negotiate, and share information appropriately.

You can improve your communication skills by:

  • Talking to the people around you at any given time, like at a train station or in the office
  • Focusing on listening to hear, not respond
  • Giving someone your undivided attention when they speak by keeping your thoughts or eyes from wandering
  • Watch for body positions, facial expressions, and gestures every time you talk to someone


The ability to work well with coworkers, subordinates, and other departments is known as teamwork.

It involves putting aside personal agendas and working together toward a common goal for common success.

Teamwork is an essential part of avoiding conflict and improving productivity and overall company culture.

You can become a team player by:

  • Offering your coworkers help before they ask
  • Asking for feedback on your work from coworkers and managers
  • Sharing ideas and encouraging your coworkers to do the same
  • Practicing active listening during meetings
  • Foucisng on positive interactions and reations
  • Offering sound advice

Conflict Resolution

The ability to resolve issues and disagreements is a vital interpersonal skill to bring to the workplace.

Wherever people spend a lot of time together, there is bound to be conflict.

Being able to de-escalate the situation and help the involved parties agree.

Good conflict resolution skills help keep the work environment positive and collaborative as opposed to combative.

To increase your conflict resolution skills, you’ll need to learn to:

  • Listen properly and hear other people
  • Talk politely and in a non-threatening way
  • Observe and react to other people’s body language appropriately
  • Monitor your body language to ensure you always show that you mean what you say
  • Respect your colleagues
  • Negotiate

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Anyone who can think through problems and provide tangible and actionable solutions is an asset to a company.

Whether you’re applying for a management position or not, you need to show that you can think critically and help solve problems.

These skills show that you actively engage in job responsibilities and can contribute to improving the company.

Here is how you can improve your critical thinking and problem-solving skills:

  • Don’t believe everything you read or are told, instead practice questioning everything
  • Do further research on topics that interest you and your work tasks
  • Evaluate your work and look for ways to improve it
  • Brainstorm solutions to your current problems and coworker’s problems
  • Practice developing and using unconventional solutions

Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is a general outlook of things working out or always looking for solutions rather than problems.

Having a positive attitude means being optimistic about situations, yourself, and others.

Developing a positive attitude is all about a mindset shift. You can do this by:

  • Focusing on what you can do when given a task
  • Being nice to other people
  • Be grateful for every high point of the week instead of focusing on low points
  • Focusing on using positive language and reinforcement
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people
  • Doing something you love every day


Confidence in your abilities is crucial, especially in life-or-death careers. Everyone needs to be certain of where they stand and how to perform their tasks.

Self-confidence ensures you don’t spend valuable time second-guessing every decision. It is also attractive and can help you make a positive impression on interviewers, employers, and clients.

You develop self-confidence by:

  • Practicing positive affirmations
  • Fulfilling your promises to yourself and others
  • Improving your knowledge and skills to meet and exceed industry standards
  • Constantly submitting high-quality work
  • Always dressing in a way that makes you feel confident
  • Learning in-depth and obscure facts on a topic of your interest that you can use to start conversations with

Decision Making

The ability to make decisions is not as common as some think. Many people experience analysis paralysis or get stuck in a loop of endless options.

Being able to pick an option or method is a remarkable trait in the workplace.

Additionally, being able to make fair, impactful, profitable, and wise decisions swiftly is rare.

Here is how you can improve your decision-making skills:

  • Minimize decision fatigue by making some parts of your day mindless. It can mean having the same thing for breakfast every day or rotating between the same five outfits. Remove repeatable decisions from your daily tasks to make room for other decisions.
  • Learn to weigh the benefits of an option versus the drawbacks. You will practice logical and rational decision-making.
  • Do your research, but don’t go overboard. You need enough information to start.
  • Practice making decisions by starting with small, seemingly irrelevant tasks. Decide where to eat dinner or what font to use in a document.
  • Start that thing you have always wanted to start but have never committed to. It could be a workout program, a class, or simply talking to the stranger you always see on the train.
  • Take on more responsibility at work. It encourages you to have to make decisions on projects and tasks.


Numerous sectors like startups, technology, and finance demand adaptability due to their fast-moving nature.

Being able to adapt and adjust as you receive new information without compromising the quality of your work is vital.

Those with extraordinary adaptability skills can work in a fast-paced environment, multitasking and changing direction as needed.

They do not view change as a hardship to be overcome but as a welcome improvement.

You can improve your adaptability skills by:

  • Switching up your routine often. You can change your gym routine, the time you shower, or what you usually eat
  • Taking on new responsibilities at work that require you to stretch your skills
  • Allowing yourself to make mistakes
  • Not over-analyzing every decision or move you need to make and instead deciding without having all the information.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is an important skill to have in many roles. It helps you present your ideas and products well to coworkers, managers, and clients.

Public speaking skills enable you to know how to structure and present information so that your audience understands.

They also make it easier to stay confident when talking to an individual or group.

Here is how to improve your public speaking skill:

  • Learn presentation skills like using PowerPoint
  • Practice good posture
  • Learn how to speak confidently by practicing a slower cadence
  • Improve your self-confidence
  • Develop your sense of humor
  • Practice voice projection without shouting
  • Make eye contact with everyone you speak to
  • Offer to give presentations during group projects
  • Speak at public events like comedy clubs, family get-togethers, and work events


Proper leadership involves more than basic management skills.

Leadership skills are needed to motivate and inspire teams to work together toward a common goal.

They include not only all the ten skills listed above but also negotiation, empathy, self-awareness, and humility.

You can improve your leadership skills by:

  • Improving your other interpersonal skills
  • Researching leadership styles to see which one suites you best
  • Requesting more responsibility in your current position and learning to balance it with your current ones
  • Volunteering
  • Taking leadership seminars and workshops

How to List Interpersonal Skills on a Resume and Cover Letter

You need to showcase your interpersonal skills on your application to get considered for a role.

Here are some tips for an effective resume and cover letter to help you highlight your interpersonal skills for your next job application.

How to List Interpersonal Skills on a Cover Letter

You should not list interpersonal skills on a cover letter.

Instead, you need to provide more information on the ones you listed on your resume.

Identify about three interpersonal skills in your resume and share an example that demonstrates them.

Keep the example or anecdote short but ensure you connect it to the job requirements.

How to List Interpersonal Skills on a Resume

Under the skills section of a resume, you can list all the job-relevant interpersonal skills you have.

You should also use specific accomplishments under your work experience section to highlight interpersonal skills.

Tips for Highlighting Interpersonal Skills in Writing

Some tips include:

Consult the Job Description

Not every interpersonal skill you possess is relevant to every job.

Read through the job description thoroughly and note what specific interpersonal skills they are looking for.

You can tailor your resume and cover letter to focus on these to increase your chances of getting an interview.

Use Action Words

Action words like demonstrated, exceeded, built, and others provide proof of your interpersonal skills.

They help show your interpersonal skills at work to the hiring manager or recruiter that is reading your resume.

Share Metrics

Sharing data that shows the impact of your interpersonal skills.

Use data like increased performance, better profits, less time spent on a task, and more. Ensure you give numbers, not just vague descriptions.

How To Demonstrate Interpersonal Skills in an Interview

If you are using a skills-based resume, it already speaks to your interpersonal skills.

However, you need to prove that you have them during the interview to get the job.

How Do I Say I Have Good Interpersonal Skills?

The short answer is you don’t.

Saying that you have good interpersonal skills does not make the recruiter believe you. Instead, you need to showcase specific interpersonal skills.

This starts the moment you walk in or log on for an interview. It continues as you reply to questions and asks your own.

You want to focus on giving replies that highlight specific interpersonal skills.

How you highlight these skills will vary from profession to profession and role to role.

However, remember you cannot say you have leadership or decision-making, or any other interpersonal skills.

Instead, reply to a question by highlighting previous experiences where you practiced these skills and had a profitable or positive result.

Tips for Highlighting Interpersonal Skills

Here is how you can indicate you have good interpersonal skills in an interview:

Show Up on Time

Punctuality in your interview shows respect which is one of the crucial interpersonal skills to possess.

Do everything you can to show up before your interview starts looking professional and put together. Looking good indicates self-confidence.

Speak Slowly and Clearly

An interview is a tense situation, and people often rush to answer questions. It makes them appear nervous, unprepared, and like a poor communicator.

You need to take your time to show that you are confident and have effective communication and public speaking skills.

Take a breath before you answer any question, and pace yourself. Don’t rush over words or look like you’re regurgitating crammed answers.

Give Examples

Interviews have many questions geared towards gauging your skill level.

You can use these questions to highlight your technical and interpersonal skills. Use data to show how effective your problem-solving skills were in a previous job.

Or you can highlight a time when you quickly and easily adapted to new software or situations in your current job.

Additional Questions To Be Aware Of

An interviewer will rarely ask you what your interpersonal skills are.

However, they will ask questions that allow you to showcase them. These questions include:

Tell Me About Yourself

This question is the first official question and indicates the start of the interview.

The interviewer asks this to know more about your experience, current pursuits, plans, and how they tie into the job you’re interviewing for.

Why Interpersonal Skills Are Relevant to This Question

Interpersonal skills matter when asked this question because they help you present yourself.

You can use this question to show skills like self-confidence, public speaking, and professionalism.

You can also share a few achievements that indicate others.

What Does Customer Service Mean To You?

You will need to display competency in basic customer service skills for customer service roles.

The interviewer asks this question to gauge what skills you are aware of and whether or not you understand the scope of the job.

Why Interpersonal Skills Are Relevant to This Question

If you’re interviewing for a customer service role, you will be expected to display exceptional interpersonal skills.

These include but are not limited to a positive attitude, adaptability, conflict resolution, empathy, patience, and effective communication skills.

The way you answer this question shows the interviewer if you possess the needed interpersonal skills for a customer service job.

What Is Your Work Style?

Another question that lets you expound on your interpersonal skills.

Interviewers ask this question to check if you would be a good fit for the company culture and the role requirements.

Why Interpersonal Skills Are Relevant to This Question

You answer this question by bringing up your ideal work environment and what you need to perform your job well.

Your interpersonal skills will dictate what answer you give. For example, you can say your work style is flexible, showing adaptability.

Tips for Improving Interpersonal Skills

You can always stand to improve your interpersonal skills. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Don’t pretend: Be yourself and work to improve who you are. You do not need to develop an entirely new personality or fake it. Instead, focus on improving your current skills.
  • Observe others: Watch more TED talks, watch how effective communicators in your office interact or do some people-watching at a cafe. Take the time to observe those with great interpersonal skills and learn from them. It also allows you to learn non-verbal cues and communication.
  • Practice: You must practice interpersonal skills to improve them. Theoretical knowledge and study are wonderful, but taking actionable steps to improve them is better. Look for ways to test the skill you are learning, and don’t be afraid of embarrassment. It’s by practicing that you master the skill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Further questions from forums and other sources across the web on Interpersonal skills:

Are interpersonal skills important in healthcare?

Yes, interpersonal skills are critical in healthcare. 99% of work in healthcare is people-facing, meaning you have to interact with people frequently.

Effective interpersonal skills help you to connect better with other healthcare workers, patients, families, administrators, and other staff. It also improves job efficiency.

Are interpersonal skills important in education?

Yes, interpersonal skills are crucial in education.

Education is a largely people-facing field, and most education workers spend a lot of time interacting with others.

You must communicate well with many different groups like teachers, students, parents, kitchen staff, technicians, or board members.

Additional Skills To Be Aware Of

Interpersonal skills are a broad group of skills sought after in the job market, but they’re not the only ones.

Additional skills include:

  • Communication skills: Effective communication skills enable you to share ideas and critics in a palatable way and help you connect better with those you work with. They include verbal, written, and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Leadership skills: If you want to step into management roles, you need leadership skills. These soft skills allow you to motivate, equip, and inspire a team to work together toward common goals.
  • Social skills: While jobs are not social events, you need good social skills to connect with coworkers, managers, and customers effectively. These are skills we use to interact and communicate with one another. They include verbal and nonverbal communication, conflict resolution, and relationship management.
  • Customer service skills: If you want to work in a customer-facing role, customer service skills are essential. These include negotiation, persuasion, and a positive attitude.
  • People skills: People skills are the general skills we need to have to interact with people daily. They allow us to relate to others and include empathy, a sense of humor, and effective communication skills.

Wrapping Up

Interpersonal skills are vital to your career growth and acceleration. There is no job where having interpersonal skills is detrimental.

You will always need to interact with someone during your work day.

Highlight your job-relevant interpersonal skills in your resume and cover letter. Additionally, ensure you expound on them during the interview.

Showing recruiters that you can work well with others to perform the needed tasks will help you get the job you’re applying for.

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