How to Test for Soft Skills

An interview is not just an opportunity to review a candidate’s work experience. That’s what the resume is for, right? Meeting a candidate in person allows you to get to know their personality and disposition. It is also a great chance to test the applicant’s soft skills, such as teamwork and empathy. But, there’s not a straight forward way to determine a candidate’s soft skills. Asking, “what soft skills do you hold?” may result in a look of confusion. So, you must be creative.

To determine a candidate’s soft skills, you should thing for two things: self-awareness and instincts. Self-awareness is important because you want someone who acknowledges the correlation between actions and outcomes. Instincts are critical because you need someone who is empathetic, team-oriented, and has a positive approach. To determine how an individual works within a team, trying asking he/she to explain a time when he/she had to work as part of a group. If the candidate describes a group that was useless or didn’t pull their weight, this is a red flag. Even if this is true, the other individuals in the group didn’t pull their weight, the right candidate will word the story differently. He/she might discuss some contributions the other team members made, and showcase his/her leadership within the group.

You might also try asking about a situation when the candidate had to ask for help. It is a giant red flag if he/she replies with “I don’t recall a time I had to ask for help.” Yes, interviewees should always want to describe themselves as an asset, but they also need to realize, and communicate that they are human and not perfect. In this case, the best answer is one in which the candidate learned from the situation. It shows that he/she is open to learning and growth.

Discussing soft skills is just as important, at times more so, as testing for technical skills. Try the methods above to evaluate the soft skills of your next new hire.


Read the full article, originally published on The Muse.