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By reading the very intersting question Priority of application materials for admission decision about which material is most important to be admitted as PhD candidate, or PostDoc or researcher, in a university, I started wondering on how and how much soft skills count, for the same objective.

As you know, besides academic degrees, grades, publications, reference letters, technical skills, project proposals, and etc., there are also soft skills that are considered by talent scouts to choose who engage.

For soft skills, I mean competence like:

  • public speaking
  • active listening
  • ability to manage relationships
  • ability to show interest

In scientific admission procedures, e.g. for PhD or PostDoc admission, how much do soft skills count?

1 Answer 1

I don't really know for PhD, but for Postdocs, from what I've seen and heard, these skills count a lot, especially when the recruitment process is well structured, as I experienced it in the UK and in Germany. Basically, the recruitment process consists of three steps:

  • Sending the CV, application, reference letters, etc. At this point, soft-skill do not really count, although knowing how to write a good cover letter can help.

  • Seminar/Public talk: the applicant is invited to give a presentation of his research work to a public audience (usually including the committee, and the staff from the department).

  • Interview: the recruitment committee interviews the applicant.

In the steps 2 and 3, the soft-skills are very important. Basically, all applicants reaching step 2 have good credentials, so it's somehow already established that they can write papers and solve research problems, so the quality of the talk and the attitude during the interview are crucial.