In today’s changing work landscape, where many people choose to go freelance for flexibility, and whole companies opt to work with remote teams in order to become more global, it’s easy to look past the importance of soft skills when hiring. When your employees are in and out of the office all hours of the day, thrive on solo-work and sometimes only get to meet each other over Skype — you may be willing to overlook their poor interpersonal skills, as long as they are the most qualified people for the role.
However, a report from LinkedIn regarding global talent trends found that 92% of recruiting professionals place soft skills at the same level of importance as hard skills, if not at a higher level, and 89% of them report that most new hires who don’t work out, do so due to poor soft skills. More and more, companies are starting to realize that soft skills for HR can make the difference between an employee who gets the job done, to one who drives the business forward.
What are some soft skills?
Before starting to think of how to hire for soft skills for your organization, it’s important to understand what the different soft skills that candidates can bring to the table are and how they can contribute to your company. While hard skills can be easily measured, with a variety of skills testing tools, soft skills are more related to personality traits and how the employee conducts themselves in the role, in the team and in front of customers.
Communication skills, a strong work ethic, problem-solving abilities, good time management, leadership skills, collaboration abilities, motivation, dependability — all of these are examples of soft skills for HR to consider when hiring. A person who possesses these will be able to take on more responsibilities and learn new tasks, even if they don’t initially have all of the knowledge for the role. As proof, a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers put leadership and teamwork skills above analytical and quantitative abilities when hiring recent college graduates.
How to hire for soft skills
1. Ask unusual interview questions
As we’ve already established, soft skills are hard to quantify. This is why it is easier to assess them during the interview. However, instead of just asking the candidate if they have initiative and operate well within a team (most will just say yes), try and look for more unusual ways of asking the question. For instance, ask them what are some soft skills that the role would require, to see if they can name them. Or ask them to rate themselves between 1-10 on specific skills.
2. Talk to the candidate’s references
Just like you ask the candidates to rank their soft skills, ask their references to do the same, to try and gauge where the candidate actually stands. You can also ask the reference to provide a real-life example of a time when the candidate demonstrated that soft skill. If they can’t find one, this applicant probably has poor soft skills.
3. Present candidates with a problem or role-play
A good way to assess the candidate’s soft skills is to put them to the test. You can present them with a work-related problem, which was a result of poor soft skills. Ask them to explain why that issue occurred and how they would’ve handled it. If they can identify the importance of soft skills in that situation, it’s likely they will do so in the role as well. You can also present this as a role-playing exercise, which could test teamwork, communication skills and more.
There are many things to consider when hiring new talent, and making sure that the candidate is qualified for the role does not just mean having the right diploma, experience, and knowledge. If you combine that with excellent soft skills, you can guarantee that employee will excel in your company.