A guide to evaluating and enhancing soft skills.

Jul 10, 2023 |
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Discovering the perfect candidate who aligns with a company’s culture is a complex task. According to LinkedIn, 60% of hiring managers find screening for soft skills challenging, making it imperative to develop effective strategies for evaluating these crucial attributes. While assessing hard skills is relatively straightforward, especially in technology-based roles, understanding a candidate’s soft skills requires creativity and effort to gauge their potential behaviors within a team.

Assessing Soft Skills: 5 Effective Approaches

 • Force Ranking Skills:

Before the interview, candidates or their peers can be requested to stack rank their perceived strengths and weaknesses regarding soft skills. Although this won’t provide precise measurements, it offers interviewers valuable insights into the candidate’s self-awareness, helping guide the interview process.

 • Online Tests:

Numerous credible online personality and attitude tests exist to evaluate potential fit and enhance productivity. However, it’s essential to validate the test’s effectiveness within your team dynamics by conducting them on your current employees. Remember, different tests provide diverse insights, and a combination of assessments is recommended.

 • Scenario Questions:

Instead of solely discussing past experiences, present candidates with relevant situations from your company and assess how they would approach and solve these challenges using their soft skills. This approach enables you to observe real competency levels and identify any potential deficiencies.

 • Assessing Outside the Interview:

Interviews can bring out the best in candidates, making it essential to explore their soft skills beyond the formal setting. Engage other individuals involved in the logistics of the interview process, such as receptionists, drivers, or even fellow applicants, to observe and provide feedback on the candidate’s interpersonal skills. Incorporating casual interactions, such as playing games or sharing a meal, can reveal a candidate’s authentic behavior.

 • Practical Projects:

The most effective method of assessing soft skills is through real-world scenarios. By involving candidates in projects with the team they would be working with, you can observe their behavior, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities firsthand. Ensuring that the project assigned holds value for the team is crucial, and candidates should be fairly compensated for their efforts.

Interview Questions to Assess Soft Skills:

Tailoring interview questions to specific company cultures and job requirements is crucial. For instance, communication skills may be paramount for a product marketer but less so for a system admin. Performing an internal assessment to identify the necessary soft skills for success in your organization and specific roles is essential. Here are some commonly asked questions for different soft skill categories:

 1. Attitude:

Attitude plays a significant role in determining a candidate’s potential for success within an organization. A positive and enthusiastic outlook fosters motivation and a willingness to overcome challenges. Here are some descriptive questions to assess attitude:

  • Tell me about a time when you faced obstacles but chose not to give up. How did your attitude contribute to your perseverance?
  • Describe a situation where you were asked to go beyond your capabilities. How did you react, and what steps did you take to tackle the task?
  • Share an example of a project that energized you and brought out your best performance.
  • How do you handle unexpected setbacks or changes in the workplace?
  • Give me an example of a personal weakness you recognized and how you actively worked to overcome it, improving your performance at work.

 2. Communication:

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful collaboration, leadership, and teamwork. Assessing a candidate’s communication skills provides insights into their ability to express ideas, actively listen, and build strong relationships. The following descriptive questions can help a lot:

  • Describe your communication style and how it positively influences your interactions with colleagues.
    How do you establish rapport and build strong relationships with others?
  • Share a time when you had to give a presentation at work. How did you prepare, engage the audience, and handle questions?
  • Provide an example of a challenging conversation you had with a coworker or team member. How did you navigate the situation and achieve a positive outcome?
  • How do you adapt your communication approach when dealing with different stakeholders, such as clients, teammates, or senior executives?
  • Do you prioritize written or verbal communication? How do you ensure clarity and effectiveness in your written communications?

 3. Leadership:

Leadership qualities go beyond managerial roles; they encompass the ability to motivate, inspire, and guide others toward achieving shared goals. Evaluating a candidate’s leadership potential is crucial for identifying individuals who can drive teams and adapt to changing circumstances. Consider the following descriptive questions:

  • Explain how you plan to earn the respect and trust of your team members.
  • Recall a time when your manager was unavailable during a critical problem. How did you take charge and handle the situation? Who did you consult for guidance?
  • Share an example of a project where you had to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities simultaneously. How did you prioritize and organize your time effectively? What were the outcomes?
  • Describe a situation when a significant work-related plan didn’t go according to expectations. What role did you play in addressing the challenge, and how did you guide your team through the process?
  • Tell me about the biggest risk you’ve taken or considered taking in your career. How did you navigate potential obstacles and mitigate risks?
  • How and when would you communicate important news, such as a merger, acquisition, or changes in product direction, to your team?

 4. Problem-Solving:

The ability to identify, analyze, and resolve problems is a valuable skill in any professional setting. Assessing a candidate’s problem-solving capabilities allows you to gauge their critical thinking, adaptability, and decision-making skills. The following descriptive questions can come in handy:

  • What makes you a great problem solver? Describe a situation where your problem-solving skills were instrumental in achieving a successful outcome.
  • Do you prefer to independently attempt to solve problems before seeking help? Share an example where you successfully resolved a complex issue on your own.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline. How did you handle the situation, and what steps did you take to ensure the problem was resolved?
  • Describe a situation where you identified a mistake made by a colleague. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
    Share a significant work-related problem you faced that took you by surprise. How did you react, and what steps did you take to resolve it promptly?
  • Reflect on a personal weakness that affected your performance at work. Explain how you recognized it and the steps you took to overcome it.

Conclusion:

Effectively assessing soft skills in job interviews is crucial for finding candidates who align with the organization’s culture and demonstrate the potential to thrive. By implementing strategies to evaluate attitude, communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills, hiring managers can make informed decisions. The descriptive questions provided offer insights into a candidate’s abilities, allowing employers to identify individuals who possess the necessary soft skills to contribute to the team’s success.
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