How to Interview Candidates for Soft Skills

The right hire is not based solely on a candidate’s education, experience and technical prowess. Soft skills are equally, if not more important in determining whether a person will be a good fit at your company.

Soft skills are those transferable traits beneficial to many different types of jobs. These personal qualities and attributes enable employees to work well with others, be adaptable and make an ongoing contribution. And while technical skills can be learned on the job, soft skills can be neither taught nor bought.

What to Look For

When interviewing for soft skills, use behavior-based questions that describe a candidate’s real-life experiences in past roles. By asking for specific examples, you gain invaluable insight into how well a person works under pressure, how they communicate and their work style and ethic. Look for:

  • Flexibility: If your business or industry is evolving, look for employees who have the ability to adapt and the willingness to continuously learn. Ask candidates to describe situations where they learned something new and applied it to benefit their work. If there’s a skill a person is lacking, ask how they plan to actively improve on it.
  • Initiative: When problems arise, does a candidate proactively address them or wait until someone else steps in? Ask how they have independently identified issues at work, and what corrective actions they took.
  • Communication strength: To evaluate a person’s written communication skills, take a close look at their resume and cover letter. Well-written, customized documents are a good tip-off that an individual is a smart and adept communicator. Verbal skills and body language can be assessed during telephone and in-person interviews.
  • Ability to learn from mistakes: This shows intelligence, as well as flexibility. Give candidates a hypothetical problem to solve, or ask them to candidly describe how they learned from a past mistake. It’s an automatic red flag if they deny ever having done anything wrong!

Sample Questions

Here are some sample questions to help you assess candidates’ soft skills:

  • Describe a time when you had a problem with a supervisor and what you did to resolve it.
  • Tell me about a time you had difficulty getting others to work together on a critical problem and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked with, why you felt this way and what you learned from that person.
  • Describe a problem you faced that was almost overwhelming and how you got through it.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or vendor? How?

Consider partnering with PrideStaff Fresno as you fine-tune your candidate assessment and hiring process. We offer workforce growth solutions that align with your unique staffing needs. From there, we can develop a customized recruitment plan that helps ensure future success. Contact us today to learn more.

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