Beyond the Build


The Hard Truth About Soft Skills

I’ve sat on the hiring side of the desk for some time now. Many interviews ago, I was always taken aback by the lack of the simplest soft skills from those fresh out of college or technical school graduates. They probably don’t have interview experience or haven’t thought through the details of their delivery. Maybe no one has taught them how to approach introductions, greetings, body language and simple dining etiquette.

Now, I try to reserve judgment. Our company has benefited from having a broad range of ages and experience levels. Those of us who are seasoned in the working world bring the wisdom of experience. Young minds have fresh ideas and many times, a desire to learn and make a difference. This energy and enthusiasm is often accompanied by being a little rough around the edges, but with time and maturity, these edges become more rounded. If a mentor is willing, you can polish soft skills.

In an interview setting, I’ve have found it is important to give young people time to relax, then shine. I have even gone so far to teach them a few skills during my interview, regardless of their potential for getting hired. Everyone has to start somewhere.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.