How to Evaluate a Candidate’s Soft Skills


Soft skills or non-technical skills are transferable skills that are used in many different types of jobs. They are personal qualities and attitudes that can help a candidate work well with others and make a positive contribution to your organization. While technical skills can be taught on the job, something like critical thinking or effective communication can’t. There are a few ways recruiters can evaluate a candidate’s soft skills.
 

Soft Skills to Look Out For

 
Initiative
 
When problems arise, does your candidate go ahead and correct them, or does he/she wait until someone else notices and asks them to do it? Ask your candidates whether they ever independently identified a problem at work and what steps they took to correct it.
 
Communication skills
 
Communication skills are important in a variety of industries and job settings. One of the first ways to evaluate a candidate’s communication skills is by looking closely at their cover letter. A well-written, error-free cover letter and resume is a good tip-off that the candidate is articulate. Verbal communication skills can be assessed during the interview through conversation.
 
Ability to learn from their mistakes
 
The ability to learn from their past experiences and apply that learning to new situations shows intelligence and flexibility. Give your candidates a hypothetical problem to solve. Can they take what they know and use that knowledge on something new?
 
Ability to collaborate with others
 
The ability to work in a team is important for most jobs; it enables employees to accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently than tackling projects individually. Cooperating together on various tasks reduces workloads for all employees by enabling them to share responsibilities or ideas. 
 
Reputation
 
How candidates’ current and former colleagues speak of them can say volumes. Make calling for references a priority, and don’t forget to look for recommendations (or a lack thereof) on LinkedIn profiles, too.
 
Use behavioral interview questions
 
Behavioral interview questions are those that center on real-life experiences. These questions are probably the most effective way to evaluate the above soft skills during an interview.
 
By asking for real-life examples, you'll get insight into how well the candidate works under pressure, how they communicate and their work ethic. Some more examples of behavioral interview questions include:
  • Describe a time when you had a problem with a supervisor and what you did to resolve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had difficulty getting others to work together on a critical problem and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked with, why you felt this way, and what you learned from that person.
  • Describe a problem you faced that was almost overwhelming and how you got through it.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or vendor? How?
Paying attention to soft skills before and during your interview will mean you’ll benefit in the long run with a new hire who’s good not just on paper, but in real life.
 
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