As a recruiter you’re a very busy professional that’s constantly focused on bringing the right people on board to your company. Finding the right candidate isn’t always a simple task however. When seeking out the perfect candidate you need to make sure they not only have their hard skills locked down but also their soft skills; things like their conflict resolution skills and social skills within the workplace.
After all being in a workplace is a very social endeavor. Most colleagues spend more time with each other than anyone else in their life. Interacting with colleagues and clients all day everyday can lead to all kinds of issues. This is why there is such a high demand for complex problem solving skills, social skills and cognitive abilities.
The problem most recruiters have is hard skills are a pretty straight forward skill to screen for, when screening for soft skills you have to dig deeper and see how the candidate will deal or has dealt with complex situations within the workplace. Doing so isn’t easy, this can be a challenge to even the most experienced interviewers. Soft skills are crucial to a candidate’s most-hire performance, so let’s dive in and take a look at this.
What soft skills?
Soft skills are people’s particular behaviours, attitudes, and problem solving traits. These can determine or give an idea of how people will interact within your workplace amongst colleagues and clients.
Searching or soft skills in candidates will help you crystalize a candidates overall fit into your company’s culture. A candidates culture fit will overall help you improve company productivity. Not all candidates have to have the same soft skills. Your goal is to add employees with soft skills that will compliment other employee’s soft skills and add a mix of traits into your employee pool and help diversify your workplace.
Some soft important soft skills you want to be vetting for are as follows:
- Conflict resolution
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking skills
So take some time to think about the soft skills needed for the jobs you’re looking to fill. If you need more employees to get along with each other to cut down on workplace issues, you may want to look for a candidate that’s more flexible and empathetic. If you’re looking for someone that will be able to sell to clients better you will want to consider someone with good relatability skills, communication skills and critical thinking skills.
Finding the soft skills
Anyone can say or even think they have these soft skills when you ask for them in your job posting, but it’s up to you to really figure out if they have what you’re looking for. Ask for examples of times they’ve had to use these particular soft skills within the workplace.
Do they talk about times they’ve worked with other colleagues, or do they present themselves as more independent workers? These are instances will you will be able to see if they highlight soft skills such as flexible and dependability. This is where a cover letter can come in handy. You can use this to get to know the candidate before they step food in your door. Take time to prepare questions based on this information to really bring out the candidates soft skills.
Nobody is going to write in their cover letter that they dislike working with people, but some people actually do and rather be left alone to do their own thing. This is your job to dig deep and drill out the answers to figure a candidate out. Take the time to prepare the right questions and this will all come out within the interview.
Interview for soft skills
The great thing about soft skills is you can find some of them before sitting down with the candidate. Some indicator of soft skills you can find before and during the interview process are as follows…
- Talking about their skills that align with the job requirements shows effective communication skills.
- Asking out-of-the-box questions that aren’t basic and asked by almost every candidate shows good listening and critical thinking skills.
- Talking highly of former bosses’ shows integrity.
- If the candidate shows up on time or early this shows dependability and punctuality.
You may want to dig deeper and ask more behavioural based questions. These are good for really figuring out a candidate, especially if they leave you with open ended answers. We recommend using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Result). For example you could ask a candidate how they dealt with a colleague they didn’t get along with in the workplace, or another: if they were ever asked to do something they felt was unsafe by a supervisor and how they handled this scenario. Listen and pay attention for soft skills they may have used in these scenarios. Did they include the skills you were hoping to hear? Did they leave something out?
You can always tweak questions for the soft skills you’re looking for.
Conflict resolution: Describe something at work you didn’t like and how you dealt with that issue?
The Answer will reveal their work habits based off the action they took and if they have the soft skills you’re looking for.
Creativity: Do you believe creativity is important for this role? Why or why
Most jobs require creativity.
Every job relies on some kind of creativity; if the candidate says no or dismisses it, they may be missing the point.
Critical thinking: Have you ever had a work assignment and became stuck on your instructions or what you needed to do? How did you deal with this?
This will show you the candidate’s critical thinking and their logical reasoning skills.
Empathy: Why are you seeking employment with a new employer?
If they talk positively about their last employer this will show signs of them being empathetic
Problem solving: Tell me about a time you stepped up in the workplace to avoid an issue.
If the candidate was able to step up and advert the issue before it occurred this will show they have strong problem solving skills and don’t wait around to take action.
After the interview
We recommend not only asking for managerial references but also colleague references. Managers are great references but will mostly focus on the candidate’s work ethic. Colleagues will have a better understanding and knowledge of the colleague’s soft skills as they work and communicate together all day, this will prompt the colleague reference to focus more on the soft skills. So be sure to ask candidates for both kinds of references.
Gathering insight from both parties will help you get a full understanding of the candidate.
Soft skills are the most crucial skills to any role as they are the ones that take years to teach and ingrain in an individual. Most soft skills are developed by how an individual is brought up, not taught. Finding soft skills in candidates does take more time and effort but is unquestionably worth it in the end.
Take these tips and put them to work to find the perfect candidate for your company.