What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Posted on Friday, October 16, 2020 by The Career GuideNo comments

“Must have good interpersonal skills” is possibly the most overused phrase in job adverts put out by recruitment agencies in London. Whether you’re looking for PA work in London or seeking temp roles, it’ll probably crop up in some form or other. But what does this umbrella term actually mean?

The crux of the matter

Typically, a job advert will specify the need for interpersonal skills or “soft skills”. These are the emotional intelligence skills that determine how well you communicate with others, get things done, and generally fit in. If a role involves interaction with others — as PA jobs in London most certainly do — you need good interpersonal skills, and employers need to feel confident that you’ve got them.

The problem is that these terms cover many skills that aren’t as easy to measure as how well you can use MS Excel or what GCSE grades you got. So let’s consider what the main interpersonal or soft skills are:

  1. Communication

    Communication is almost always the most important interpersonal skill. It’s how you listen, reflect, respond, and interact via different means with a range of different people from the CEO to the mail clerk.

  2. Flexibility

    The ability to adapt and take change on the chin is crucial to those temping in London and also important for anyone in an office support role. Rolling with the punches makes you stable and reliable, as well as an excellent asset in a busy professional environment.

  3. Positivity

    Positivity is a skill that’s immensely motivating to others around you. PAs need it in spades to keep the oil on the cogs of corporate life.

  4. Initiative

    Initiative is closely linked to problem-solving and is a vital skill for those in support roles. You need to create solutions through taking the initiative, ensuring that you go beyond the letter of your job description to contribute to the organisation’s overall objectives.

  5. Team work

    This one is trotted out with alarming regularity. In short, it’s your ability to cooperate, collaborate, and productively work with others. You should be able to lead, influence, follow, and ensure that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

  6. Responsibility

    Your boss needs you to stand on your own two feet. When things go wrong, you should be able to own it. When there’s little support structure, you should be able to make decisions with confidence. Taking responsibility ensures fewer mistakes are made, because your mindset is rooted in accountability.

  7. Diplomacy

    If there’s one underrated skill for those doing PA jobs in London it’s diplomacy, which is absolutely essential for smoothing out relationships with clients, suppliers, and colleagues. It’s diplomacy that determines how often PAs seem to be at ease with absolutely everyone in the business.

  8. Patience

    Seek out the most patient individuals in any organisation and who will they be? Yes, the PAs. You’ll be asked the same question a dozen times and by a dozen people, and need to offer service with a smile to the most irritating of colleagues. It’s all in a day’s work.

  9. Rapport

    When building relationships in any work situation, it’s the ability to build rapport with people that means you’re respected, well-liked, and manage to get things done. In many ways, you need to be the social chameleon, capable of getting on with everyone.

  10. Trust

PAs need to be trusted by clients, colleagues, suppliers, and their executive. Trust must be earned; it’s hard to build and easy to lose. All other interpersonal skills are built on a foundation of trust.

Interpersonal skills are all about relationships. You should be able to demonstrate these through how you act in interviews. Your role relies on interpersonal skills, so make sure you understand what they are and why they matter.


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