How to Identify and Hire for Soft Skills

Identifying Soft Skills in Candidates - Soft Skills to Hire For

It’s no secret that technical skills are in red-hot demand at the moment, but to stay ahead in the hiring game, you should be looking at soft skills just as closely. In a time where it’s difficult to find skilled talent, you may find that none of your candidates tick every single technical skill box on your list. In such an environment, the need to hire for soft skills becomes more important than ever. 

As these skills are innate and typically difficult to teach, hiring for soft skills can often be better than relying on hard skills alone. In fact, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report found that 89% of bad hires lacked critical soft skills. 

If you’re having trouble distinguishing between top candidates with similar hard skill sets, soft skills are often the deciding factor.

This article covers why soft skills are just as important as hard skills, and highlights which to look for in candidates.

What Are Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Hard skills are job-specific, measurable skills that a person has learned. This could include accounting, programming, creative writing or something else that is acquired through education and honed as they gain more experience. These technical abilities will depend on the job; an accountant will need different hard skills than a software developer. 

Soft skills are intangible and often difficult to measure as a result. They include people skills, self-management skills and other innate personality traits. Because soft skills are not easily taught or learnt they are very valuable, though elusive, to find in a candidate.

Key Takeaway
Think of hard skills as things that are quantifiable. For example, someone’s ability to code, speak a language, or use certain software. Soft skills are more like personality traits. Are they dependable, honest, efficient, etc?

Why Are Soft Skills Important?

The success of your organisation, and the team, does not solely depend on the technical skills of the workers. How they work together and interact with clients is just as important, and this comes down to soft skills. 

While specialised knowledge and hard skills are important for a productive, qualified workforce, soft skills will determine how your employees handle problems, communicate with coworkers and clients, and respond to various business situations. Someone who might not have the absolute skillset that you’re looking for will often be able to do just as good a job if they proactively ask for help and use their own problem-solving ability to achieve the desired outcome. These types of soft skills are invaluable to an organisation.

Soft skills complement hard skills, allowing your team members to work both efficiently and effectively together.

7 Key Soft Skills to Look For When Hiring

  • Communication

    The ability to communicate effectively with co-workers and customers is critical. Good communicators have qualities such as clarity, confidence, empathy, tact, and active listening.

  • Emotional Intelligence

    It is extremely difficult to ignore the importance of emotional intelligence when hiring candidates. They tend to be team players who work well together, are empathetic, and are skilled at resolving conflicts and forming positive working relationships.

  • Critical Thinking

    For introducing new ideas, services, and products, a workforce of creative and critical thinkers is essential. The ability to question assumptions and find innovative solutions should be something you look for in any candidate. 

  • Team Player

    Being a team player involves being open to new ideas and feedback, being able to respect and value different points of view, and being at ease working in a group. Effective teamwork and collaboration with fellow workers is a crucial skill.

  • Growth Mindset

    Employees who have a growth mindset are proactive and self-motivated. They understand the importance of keeping their skills up to date in order to meet new challenges, and they are self-aware enough to constantly work on improving skills and eliminating weaknesses.

  • Time Management

    Employees who can effectively manage their time are more productive and efficient.This is a valuable soft skill, especially now that the many employees at least some time working from home. Team members with good time management skills can better plan and manage their daily schedules while also meeting deadlines.

  • Adaptability

    In the modern workplace, it's more important than ever to hire for adaptability and resilience. You'll need people who can switch gears and take on different responsibilities as needed, adapt their behaviours to the requirements of their team, manage uncertainty, and look for the positive when things go wrong.

How to Interview for Hard and Soft Skills

While assessing a candidate’s soft skills is important, it can often be difficult. The problem is that, while you can quickly evaluate a candidate’s hard skills by putting them through an objective test, judging soft skills like communication, adaptability, and time management is another story.

To enhance the identification of soft skills in candidates, particularly for technical roles where questions tend to focus on hard skills, you can leverage behaviour-based interview questions. These inquiries offer insights into a candidate’s responses to various challenges and situations.

Consider initiating questions with phrases like “What are your thoughts on…?” or “How would you…?” instead of the conventional “Do you…?” This approach can elicit more comprehensive and nuanced responses.

When interviewing candidates for technical positions, explore behaviour-based questions such as:

  1. Inquiring about their approach to developing relationships with coworkers and supervisors.
  2. Asking for an example of a creative or unique problem-solving experience.
  3. Requesting a recounting of a situation where they had to navigate a challenging interaction.
  4. Having them describe their ideal work environment and preferred methods of communication.
  5. Seeking a story about a time they sought help or guidance on a project and how they approached it.
  6. Exploring a situation where they faced communication challenges with a manager or coworkers, and inquiring about their handling of the situation and their colleagues’ responses.

Additionally, question candidates about how they believe their soft skills will contribute to success in the role they are interviewing for. Their responses can provide insights into their understanding of the position’s nature and requirements.

Determining soft skills is not always easy. This is where an expert recruiter can help you out. Experienced in sourcing candidates and evaluating both hard and soft skills, these professionals can bring you the perfect fit for any role.

Take all the hard work away by teaming up with a recruiter through TalentVine.

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To Conclude

In conclusion, while the demand for technical skills is high, the significance of soft skills cannot be overstated. The nature of soft skills, coupled with their difficulty to teach on the job, makes them invaluable in evaluating a candidate’s potential. 

When faced with candidates possessing similar hard skill sets, soft skills often become the deciding factor. This article uncovers the importance of soft skills, identifies key ones to look for, and provides insights into behaviour-based interview questions to assess them effectively, ensuring a well-rounded and high-performing workforce.

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