Presence or lack of “soft” skills will generally not get you a job or lose an opportunity.
In my experience, entry-level developers will need to rely on soft skills more than senior-level folks, because of their lack of “hard” skills experience.
Here are a few soft skills areas that I feel are important.
Being able to share and defend opinions and approaches is vital. You may come up with a business-saving idea, but if you cannot communicate it well with your team or management, that idea could be lost. When you take an approach on something, being able to defend your reasoning is important as well because there was a reason why you felt something was the best solution to a problem.
The idea of an interview gauging a candidate on “culture fit” has been the source of many discussions and arguments over the relevance. Culture is most important at smaller companies (explained later) but as a company grows it can also shape the kinds of employees the company wants to hire to maintain that culture. Some people, however, feel that culture is unimportant and should not be something checked during an interview. This leads to my point on empathy.
You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t empathize with others or see things from their point of view, other employees at the company will be reluctant to work with you, and that possibly means you’re not the best candidate for the position at this time. Unlike other hard skills like technical ability, however, empathy is difficult to learn. Yes, you can find a job without it, but being able to see things from another perspective can help make you a more flexible teammate when it comes to making decisions that affect the entire team or company.
Integrity and honesty is fundamental to a company’s culture. I need to make sure you can be trusted implicitly and it starts with simple things like whether you’ve embellished or exaggerated details on your resume. I also need to know if you’ve really done the work you claim, that you have the skills you say you do. I may also test you throughout the interviews by having multiple interviewers ask you the same trivia or coding question to see if you’ll tell us.
Like empathy, having a humble nature will project a sense of “I can work with this person” when your interviewer gives a report after the interview of your answers. Also, like empathy, this is a hard skill to be taught, and without it you can come across arrogant or cocky, and some companies don’t want those kinds of personalities on their team. There’s a stark difference between being proud of your accomplishments and bragging about it. Humility also shows itself in how well you take criticism during the interview or defend your designs/code.