You are sitting across the table from a job applicant. His resume checks off all of the hard skills (e.g., technical knowledge, software skills, product knowledge, industry experience) for which you are looking. But does he bring the soft skills needed? A common mistake employers make is assuming that just because someone has all of the hard skills required, he or she will be successful. Although this may be true in some positions, soft skills are a critical piece of the hiring puzzle and should not be undervalued.
Soft skills refer to behavioral traits such as the ability to work well with others, adapt to new situations, self-motivation, and emotional intelligence just to name a few. In general, soft skills reflect how a person relates, listens, thinks, and collaborates with those around him. These skills can be challenging to screen for during recruitment (and even harder to teach after the new hire has started!). However, once you know the soft skills that are important to your company, you can design your selection process to reflect those qualities. Here are a few steps to consider:
Know Which Soft Skills You Need
There is not a one-size fits all approach to assessing soft skills. Instead, you should focus on the characteristics that drive the business forward. Consider your corporate culture, your industry, and your unique business. What soft skills do the most successful people in your organization exude? Are they effective communicators? Do they collaborate well and rally the troops when you need it most? Identify what skills are most important to your organization and then build them into your hiring process. A good rule of thumb – these soft skills should reflect the core values of your organization.
Ask the Right Questions
When structuring your interview questions, be sure to ask behavioral-based questions that drill down into the soft skills you have identified. Questions such as ‘Tell me about a time when you worked on a team project’, ‘Give me an example of how you have changed your approach in order to communicate more effectively with someone’, or ‘Tell me about a major project that you are proud of and why’ are all great questions to uncover a candidate’s soft skills.
Add a Soft Skills Assessment to Your Hiring Recipe
You may want to explore adding an assessment to your hiring process. There are a variety of assessments on the market that look at factors such as compassion, humility, emotional intelligence, motivation, and countless other soft skills. Find one that fits well with your needs. Just make sure the assessment serves as only part of the puzzle – not a deal breaker.
If you follow the steps above, you will be well on your way to hiring the right mix of hard and soft skills – leading to improved hiring decisions and a more productive, effective team.
Need assistance identifying the soft skills that are crucial for your organization? ? Email us or give us a call at 703-587-5615. We work with our clients every day to ensure they have an effective selection process in place to hire the best and the brightest. We can do the same for you.