How to assess soft skills in a candidate?


Google defines soft skills as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people”.

Soft skills in the workplace are those nuts and bolts that help employees work together in a collaborative and harmonious way.

And to most hiring managers, soft skills are more important over hard skills. As they’ll determine how well does a person can fit into an organization

Yet there aren’t any proper measures to assess them as in the case of hard skills. And as most candidates know the importance of their behavior in Interviews, they act accordingly in Interviews making it difficult to tell their real characteristics.

Soft skills are more intangible skills that can be transferred across the industries and careers unlike hard skills

Why soft skills in the workplace are important?

What kind of employee you’d like to hire? The one who is collaborative with others and work as a team or the one who belittle his colleagues because he has got more knowledge or skills over them?

Definitely, your answer would be the first one, and that’s the difference soft skills make! Hiring someone entirely based on their hard skills or academic background won’t go a long way. 

Every job role requires a set of soft skills to excel in that position, let’s say your organization is hiring an executive for the front office having just good communication or being able to manage walk-ins are not enough. The person needs to be presentable; you don’t want a person to walk into your office and the first thing they see is an oddly dressed person sitting in the front. The person needs to be soft-spoken and patient so they don’t get annoyed by silly inquiries, etc.

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And that is the case with each job out there, in order to excel at the job, one needs to have more personal attributes along with proficiency with the technical knowledge.

But unfortunately, there’re barely any tests or certifications that may prove the most important soft skills. Moreover, candidates understand the importance of leaving a positive impression on a recruiter so nobody will tell a no when asked if they’re a team player or not? 

Few generic examples of soft skills

  1. Strong work ethic: Having a strong work ethic means a candidate is motivated to work hard and get the job done. People with a strong work ethic always end up delivering more than what’s asked of them.
  2. Positive Attitude: People who choose to see the bright side of things, people with such attributes are not only nice to work with, but they also add positivity to the workplace.
  3. Good communication skills: Being able to understand and convey a message effectively. No matter what job you’re in, you’ll need to interact with your peers and hence a coherent communication is essential for a candidate’s mere survival.
  4. Time management abilities: Managing tasks effectively and meeting deadlines. A candidate must know how to use time on the job wisely.
  5. Problem-solving skills: Does a candidate exhibit the ability to solve problems effectively if any occurs at the workplace rather than running up to their manager. These are people you need to look for.
  6. Acting as a team player: Can a candidate work well in a team of people? It’s easier said than done, collaborating with others is not at all easy, the more opinions the more conflict.
  7. Self Confidence: Beliving in one’s self, it is more important when hiring for leadership roles, people won’t believe in someone unless they believe in their self!
  8. Learning ability: Everything is dynamic and so is work, an employee won’t go far once their college education is obsolete, and you may not start a recruitment drive every time a new technology is introduced and hence ability to learn and learn quickly is a sought after soft skills.
  9. Flexibility/ Adaptability: As said earlier, the workplace is not static. People who embrace the unexpected challenges are the one you need on your team.
  10. Working well under pressure: Can the candidate do well in stressful situations? How well can they deliver the work in times of crisis?

Though a few approaches can help you assess soft skills in a candidate.

Let them say

Ask the candidates to enumerate the soft skills important to them in professional success, and what will be the ones required for the job role. If they fail to mention even the half of them, that’s a red flag.

Make them grade their skills

This is something I’ve personally done while interviewing candidates, instead of asking just a yes or no question for a soft skill, ask them to rate their skills. Like if you’re interviewing a salesperson, you can ask “how persuasive you are?” or “rate your communication skills from 1 to 10?” and most of the time and honest answer would come out.

Let them tell stories

To assess their soft skills better, give them situational questions can be a hypothetical one or based on their past experiences. Like “what is the biggest challenge you faced in your career, how did you overcome it?” it will tell about the person’s problem-solving skills. Similarly, other questions can be formed based on the skill that needs to be assessed. 

Let references speak

References are one of the major ways of hiring, and it can come even handier while assessing their soft skills, ask the person referring the candidate about their soft skills.

Using these practices you can assess candidate soft skills more effectively, after all, hard skills will make them fit their job, but soft skills will make them fit your organization.

Try these approaches in your next hiring drive – Post a free job!

Chhaya Sharma

Chhaya Sharma

Chhaya is a Content Strategist with HireTale. She loves to read, write and eat.

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