Beyond the CV: How to Assess Soft Skills in Job Candidates

  • Posted February 27, 2024

Hiring the right candidate for a job is a multifaceted challenge. While a candidate’s CV can provide valuable insights into their qualifications and experience, it often falls short in assessing one critical aspect of a candidate’s suitability for a role: their soft skills.

Soft skills, also known as interpersonal or people skills, encompass attributes like communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence. These skills can significantly impact a candidate’s performance and compatibility within a team and organisation. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of assessing soft skills and explaining how we can help you explore effective strategies for doing so during the hiring process.

The Significance of Soft Skills

In today’s fast-paced and collaborative work environments, soft skills have gained paramount importance. Beyond technical competencies, employers are increasingly valuing candidates who can communicate effectively, adapt to change, work harmoniously with colleagues, and think critically. Here are some reasons why soft skills matter:

  1. Team Dynamics: Soft skills are the glue that holds teams together. Candidates with strong communication and interpersonal skills can foster better teamwork, leading to higher productivity and creativity.
  2. Adaptability: In rapidly evolving industries, employees need to adapt to new technologies, processes, and challenges. Candidates with adaptability and problem-solving skills are better equipped to thrive in such environments.
  3. Client Relations: Many roles involve client or customer interactions. Candidates with strong soft skills can build rapport, handle conflicts, and provide excellent customer service, contributing to business success.
  4. Leadership Potential: Soft skills often underpin leadership qualities. Candidates with strong soft skills are more likely to inspire and lead their teams effectively.

Strategies for Assessing Soft Skills

Now that we understand the importance of soft skills, let’s explore how to effectively assess them during the hiring process:

  1. Tailor Interview Questions

During interviews, ask questions that specifically target the soft skills relevant to the role. For example:

  • Teamwork: “Can you provide an example of a project where you had to collaborate with a diverse team? How did you contribute to its success?”
  • Communication: “Describe a situation where you had to communicate complex ideas to a non-technical audience. How did you ensure they understood?”
  • Adaptability: “Tell me about a time when you had to quickly adjust to changing priorities or unexpected challenges at work.”

Tailoring questions to the desired soft skills helps you assess a candidate’s ability to apply these skills in practical situations.

  1. Reference Checks

Don’t underestimate the value of reference checks. Contacting a candidate’s previous employers or colleagues can provide valuable insights into their soft skills. Ask references about the candidate’s teamwork, communication, adaptability, and other relevant attributes.

  1. Use Assessment Tools

There are various assessment tools and personality tests available that can help evaluate a candidate’s soft skills. Tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DiSC Personality Assessment, or Emotional Intelligence Appraisals can provide data-driven insights into a candidate’s personality and soft skill strengths.

  1. Group Interviews

Incorporate group interviews or panel interviews into your hiring process. These settings allow you to observe how candidates interact with others, assess their communication skills, and gauge their ability to contribute to group discussions and decisions.

  1. Trial Periods or Project-Based Hiring

Consider offering a trial period or hiring candidates for project-based work before committing to a permanent hire. This approach allows you to assess their soft skills in a real-world work environment and observe how well they fit within your team culture.

Assessing soft skills in job candidates is essential for building a cohesive and effective workforce. While a CV provides an initial snapshot of a candidate’s qualifications, it’s crucial to dig deeper and evaluate their interpersonal and emotional intelligence capabilities.

SYR can help you with tailoring interview questions, assessing emotional intelligence, and developing assessment tools so that you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s soft skills.

In doing so, you increase the likelihood of making successful hires who can not only perform their job tasks but also thrive in your organisation’s dynamic and collaborative culture.