Assessing Soft Skills in Interviews is not so soft

December 18, 2023

In the contemporary world of talent acquisition, the ability to discern a candidate's soft skills is as vital as evaluating their technical capabilities. This article aims to illuminate how interview questions can be strategically crafted to probe these essential skills, which are increasingly termed as "essential" or "power skills" in the hybrid workforce era.

The Essence of Soft Skills in Professional Success

Soft skills, distinct from the measurable hard skills, are the intangible traits that enable a candidate to thrive in a specific role. These skills, including communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, critical thinking, decision-making, and leadership, are integral to a candidate's overall effectiveness in the workplace.

Strategies for Role Scoping and Question Design

The first step in assessing soft skills is "role scoping," a foundational process that clarifies what constitutes success in the role. Considerations include the objectives a candidate should achieve within a year and the core soft skills necessary to meet these goals.

Types of Interview Questions to Evaluate Soft Skills

Behavioral Interview Questions: These questions delve into a candidate's past experiences, offering insights into how they have applied soft skills in real-life scenarios. Examples include:

  1. Communication: Inquiring about a time the candidate explained a complex concept to a non-technical audience.
  2. Teamwork: Asking about a situation where they worked with a challenging colleague.
  3. Problem-solving: Requesting an example of a difficult problem they solved at work.

Situational Interview Questions: Focusing on hypothetical future scenarios, these questions assess a candidate's potential to apply soft skills in future situations. Examples include:

  1. Time Management: Discussing strategies for managing tight deadlines.
  2. Critical Thinking: Exploring how they would improve a departmental process.
  3. Leadership: Probing into how they would inspire a team underperforming against targets.

Open-ended Interview Questions: These questions allow candidates to showcase their soft skills without being anchored to past experiences or hypothetical scenarios. Examples include:

  1. Decision-making: Understanding their approach to making significant decisions.
  2. Problem-solving: Learning about their go-to strategies for identifying and fixing problems.

Conclusion: The Integral Role of Soft Skills in Recruitment

Evaluating soft skills is crucial in determining a candidate's fit for a role and their potential contribution to an organization's success. The interview process, leveraging a mix of behavioral, situational, and open-ended questions, is a powerful tool for this assessment. As we embrace the complexities of the modern workforce, understanding and assessing these skills becomes imperative for making informed hiring decisions that drive both individual and organizational success.

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