How to Interview and Hire for Soft Skills

Hiring for soft skills has become increasingly important in today's job market. Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, are essential for success in the workplace and are becoming more valuable to employers than technical skills alone. With this in mind, here are  some tips for identifying and evaluating soft skills during the hiring process.

The Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace

Soft skills are essential for success in the workplace because they enable employees to work effectively with others, communicate effectively, and adapt to changing circumstances. In fact, a recent study byLinkedIn found that 57% of leaders believe that soft skills are more important than technical skills.

Employees with strong soft skills can help to improve team dynamics, resolve conflicts, and create a positive work environment. They are also more likely to be adaptable and able to learn new skills, which is essential in today's rapidly changing business environment.

Identifying and Evaluating Soft Skills

Identifying and evaluating soft skills during the hiring process can be challenging, but these strategies can help:

  1. Review Resumes and Cover Letters: Resumes and cover letters can provide insight into a candidate's soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and attention to detail. Look for examples of how the candidate has demonstrated these skills in previous roles or projects.
  2. Ask Behavioral Interview Questions: Behavioral interview questions are designed to elicit specific examples of how a candidate has demonstrated a particular skill in the past. For example, you could ask a candidate to describe a time when they had to resolve a conflict with a coworker or a customer.
  3. Conduct Skills Assessments: Skills assessments, such as writing samples or problem-solving exercises, can help evaluate a candidate's soft skills in a more objective way. Assessments are a great way to provide some insight but should rarely be used to make a hiring decision. Use the information instead during the interview process to target specific areas of interest.
  4. Check References: References can provide insight into a candidate's soft skills, such as their ability to work effectively with others and their communication skills. Unfortunately, in today’s business environment, most companies are reluctant to provide detailed information, with many defaulting to employment verification. Look for candidates who come with letters of recommendation.

How to Conduct Soft Skills Interviews

Building a profile for a position that includes soft skills is a great way to identify the ideal candidate. Understanding these traits will enable a more effective interview process. Here are some tips for identifying those soft skills during the interview:

  1. Define the Ideal Candidate: Before you start the hiring process, create a soft skills list of desired traits that are most important for the role. This will help you identify the right candidates and evaluate them more effectively.
  2. Use Multiple Methods to Evaluate Soft Skills: Evaluating soft skills can be challenging, so it’s important to use multiple methods, such as behavioral interview questions, skills assessments, and reference checks, to get a complete picture of a candidate's soft skills.
  3. Consider Cultural Fit: Soft skills are closely tied to company culture, so it’s important to consider whether a candidate will be a good fit for your organization. Look for candidates who share your company's values and can work effectively with your team.
  4. Focus on Observing Soft Skills: Many managers struggle with conducting interviews effectively because they’ve been conditioned to study a candidate’s resume and use it as a guide throughout the interview. Instead, set the resume aside, pay more attention to body language, active listening, communication style, drive and determination. After all, for many roles the hard skills can be learned, soft skills usually come from within the person.

Hiring for Soft Skills Builds Strong Teams That Achieve Goals

Soft skills are essential for success in the workplace and are becoming more valuable to employers than technical skills alone. To hire for soft skills effectively, it’s important to identify the soft skills that are most important for the role, use multiple methods to evaluate candidates and consider cultural fit. By hiring for soft skills , companies can build strong teams that are adaptable, effective, and able to achieve their goals.

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March 29, 2023

David Sargeant

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