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How to Reveal a Candidate’s Soft Skills

May 30, 2022 10:00:00 AM
By Linda Trzyna

in Creating Your Dream Team 101, Top Talent, Management, Hiring, Employer

As a recruiter, you know that employment in certain positions requires certain skills. For instance, you would expect an accountant to be good with numbers or a computer technician to be able to troubleshoot a computer problem.

But what about a person’s ability to work well with others, stick with a project, show up on time for work, or think critically?

“Soft skills” like teamwork, perseverance and dependability describe behaviors, work habits and other personality traits that may be just as valuable in a new hire.

Why Soft Skills are Important

Of course, you want to hire someone with the right skills for the role, but there are good reasons to factor in a candidate's non-technical skills when choosing your new hire. Soft skills like enthusiasm for learning or the ability to work with a team can mean the difference between failing or succeeding in a role.

A candidate's soft skills suggest how they will fit in with your team and corporate culture. Furthermore, a candidate with strong soft skills can be brought up to speed on the technical skills they need to perform the job. Teaching soft skills, on the other hand, is much more difficult.

Which Soft Skills are Required?

An online search for a list of soft skills returns dozens of characteristics. How do you decide what soft skills are important in the role for which you are hiring?

“Think of current and past employees who excelled in this role. What made them successful?” asks Marlene Bergen, Director of Workforce Operations at TPD.

“Work style and personality assessments can help create an objective benchmark. At the same time, don't pigeonhole yourself by hiring the exact same profile over and over. That will only make hiring more difficult, and you'll miss out on the benefits of diversity,” she advises.

Instead, assess the role, along with your current team and work to identify what type of person would integrate well.

How to Determine a Candidate’s Soft Skills

Open-ended, behavioral-based interview questions are helpful in teasing out a candidate’s soft skills.

For instance, says Bergen, “Asking a candidate to describe a process is a great way to assess if they are detail-oriented.”

You might ask them to explain how they compile their monthly reports or their method for keeping track of and meeting deadlines.

Assistance with Hiring

Qualifying a candidate's soft skills requires practice, intuition and empathy. The interviewer must know the right questions to ask and how to interpret the answers. It also requires trust between the hiring manager and the recruiter.

“At TPD, one of the most important steps in hiring comes before the recruitment process has even started, when we conduct a Role Discovery,” says Bergen. “During this session, we make sure everyone understands the role and responsibilities, as well as the type of candidate that would be successful and support the team.”


Contact TPD today to learn more about how their recruitment experts can help you find your next great new hire.

Filed under Creating Your Dream Team 101, Top Talent, Management, Hiring, Employer

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