Hard vs. Soft Skills

Stefanie Simmons - reviewer of the lesson   Stefanie I May 06, 2022
Business English, Speaking Lessons, English for HR
Work, Human Resources
B2 Upper-Intermediate, C1 Advanced
Mixed Grammar
Speaking, Vocabulary, Listening
Lesson ID
Lesson Time
30 minutes
Illustration depicting students learning the difference between hard and soft skills and discussing examples of each in an English lesson.

Lesson Overview

What skills do you have in your bag of tricks? In this lesson, students will learn the difference between hard and soft skills and discuss examples of each. This lesson features audio of a job interview in which the interviewer asks the interviewee about hard and soft skills. Students will also learn and practice vocabulary and idioms relating to this topic. The lesson activities include plenty of engaging discussion activities and worksheets that have been developed for adults and teenagers.

Lesson Objectives

  • Listening: Students will listen to an audio conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee discussing skills required for a role. They'll learn to distinguish between hard and soft skills and recognize phrases like "think outside the box" and "have what it takes."

  • Speaking: Students will engage in discussions and role-play exercises to identify their own hard and soft skills, such as teamwork and multilingualism, while relating them to personal or hypothetical job scenarios.

  • Vocabulary: Vocabulary examples include phrases like "bag of tricks," "get the hang of," and "learning curve," along with skill-specific terms like "project management," "computer programming," "teamwork," and "customer service."

  • Homework: Students will match skills to their definitions (e.g., customer service, proofreading). They will identify skills in pictures as hard or soft, then choose between specific hard skills and broader soft skills via choice-based questions (e.g., "Would you rather work as a manager in leadership or as a team member with problem-solving skills?").


Listen to the audio of a man being interviewed for a job. Does he have the right hard and soft skills to impress the interviewer? Maybe he has what it takes to think outside the box to succeed in this role.

Audio Transcript

Vocabulary and Pronunciation

hard skills [noun]: teachable and measurable abilities, such as writing, reading, math, or the ability to use computer programs
soft skills [noun]: traits that make you a good employee, such as etiquette, communication, and getting along with people
bag of tricks [idiom]: items, skills, methods, or techniques available for use
project management [noun]: the process of planning and managing a project to successfully complete its listed goals
interpersonal skills [noun]: the skills we use to communicate and interact with people on a daily basis
multilingualism [noun]: knowledge of more languages than a native language
customer service [noun]: the assistance/advice provided by a company to people who buy its products
demographic [noun]: the characteristics of people in a particular area, such as age, population, ethnic origins, religion, purposes, and income
social media manager [noun]: a person in charge of representing a company across social channels as a sole voice of the brand
get the hang of [idiom]: to learn the skills that are needed to do something
fast-paced environment [noun]: a type of workplace where things happen quickly
think outside the box [idiom]: to explore ideas that are creative and unusual that are not limited or controlled by rules or tradition
have what it takes [idiom]: to have the necessary qualities and skills needed for success
in over one’s head [idiom]: means someone is involved in something full of difficulty, something that is beyond that person’s ability to cope
learning curve [noun]: the rate of a person’s progress in gaining experience, knowledge, or new skills
SEO marketing [noun]: Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services
proofreading [noun]: examining text carefully to find errors relating to grammar, style, or spelling
mediocre [adjective]: of moderate or low quality, values, ability, or performance
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