Hard skills are abilities that one can teach, and one's aptitude can be measured and defined; some examples include typing, reading and fluency with software programs. Many job descriptions include a specific set of hard skills that the hiring company requires from all applicants before granting an interview.
Hard and soft skills are both important when applying for a job. Soft skills include more subjective traits that are more difficult to quantify. These are also known as interpersonal skills or people skills, and they include teamwork, flexibility, time management, motivation, patience and communication.
While hard skills are what earn someone the chance at an interview, the purpose of the interview is generally not to test those hard skills. While some screening may involve actual fluency with hard skills, such as taking a typing or machine operation test, the primary reason for the interview is to identify candidates with superior soft skills. If a candidate needs a little more training to become fluent with a company's proprietary software but has the necessary soft skills to be a perfect fit with the rest of his team, the company is more likely to hire that person as opposed to someone who already knows the software but comes across as difficult to deal with. Training in hard skills is much easier than training with soft skills.