Beyond Credentials: Assessing Soft Skills in Specialised Recruitment

For many recruiters and hiring managers, it can be extremely difficult to choose between two strong candidates for the role. This is where soft skills can help to be a deciding factor. Over 90% of talent acquisition professionals have stated that soft skills are equally important when it comes to making hiring, in comparison to hard skills. In addition to this, many hiring managers also feel that when a hire does not work out is it because they lack the important soft skills to fulfil the role.

This blog explores to significance of soft skills when making a hire, and how businesses can assess for soft skills during the recruitment process.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are known to be a combination of communication skills, emotional intelligence and personality traits. These soft skills will complement an employee's hard skills, helping them to be successful within their job role.

Some common soft skills that hiring managers are on the hunt for are strong communication, empathy, problem-solving, great work ethic, critical thinking and positive attitude.

Is there a demand for soft skills?

There is a huge demand for soft skills. Due to soft skills being unquantifiable professional attributes, it can be hard for hiring managers to asses these skills during the recruitment process.

More than ever before soft skills are becoming high in demand for businesses because they bring great value to the business. Over 90% of recruiters view soft skills as an essential element when making a new hire. Some hiring managers even view soft skills are more important than technical skills. Hiring managers have also emphasised leadership and teamwork as the most desirable soft skills when recruiting junior employees, ahead of analytical skills.

Even in the most technical career areas, such as healthcare, over a quarter of all skill requirements are for soft skills.

Critical Thinking

A business thriving with critical thinkers brings opportunities for new ideas to develop. Critical thinking skills have been ranked second on the top soft skills for employees to hold. With the emergence of AI, critical thinking is needed more than ever to complement the capability of machines. These critical thinking skills can be difficult to find when hiring which is why they are so highly sought after.

Strong Communication 

Lack of effective communication within an organisation can lead to performance and productivity challenges. When a team works together well and communicates effectively the business is more likely to find success. Communication and collaboration work together hand in hand.

Strong communication involves listening closely to other team members, resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner and organising tasks in an efficient way. Communication both digitally and in-person is essential in our current day, which is why it is such an important soft skill for hiring managers to asses when recruiting.

Compassion in Leadership  

Compassion is a significant element of effective leadership. When teams feel that their leader cares about them, they work better, showing the significance of the soft skill of compassion. Over 90% of leaders feel that compassion is a significant part of successful; leadership. Compassion enhances interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

How to assess candidates for soft skills?

Whilst it is clear that hiring managers need to be assessing candidates for soft skills, it is not entirely clear how they should asses for these soft skills. Let’s explore some methods of assessment.

Behaviour-based Interview Questions

Interview questions that are behaviour-based can help a hiring manager or interviewer identify the soft skills held by the candidate. This is particularly useful for roles that are more technical. These types of questions can help offer insight into how the candidate would respond in various situations they are faced with in the workplace. Interviewers could phrase their questions with “How would you…” or “What are your ideas on…” On top of this, interviewers could ask the candidates how they have handled a certain situation in the past. 

Communication skills

Strong communication skills are a key factor in whether or not an interviewee will make a good fit within the business. A large part of communication is listening, so during an interview, it is important to watch to see whether the candidate can listen properly and pay good attention. This involves their eye contact, whether they interrupt the interviewer, answer the questions directly or swerve around questions and go off-topic.

Speak to References

Reference checks are crucial to verify information about a candidate’s past experiences. These references can also assist in offering a window into the candidate’s personality and how they behave in a work environment. On top of this, references can offer valuable information on the soft skills in which the candidate possesses.

Final Thoughts

To establish a successful hiring landscape, there needs to be a focus on looking out for strong communication and developing compassionate relationships with other team members. Soft skills enable organisations to use their technical skills effectively, as well as expert knowledge, which further enhances the success of the business.

Due to soft skills being unquantifiable professional attributes, it can be hard for hiring managers to asses these skills during the recruitment process. Despite this, hiring managers need to recruit with soft skills at the front of their business minds to provide a strategic approach to the hire. It is vital that soft skills are assessed as well as technical skills during the recruitment process. These soft skills will complement an employee's hard skills, helping them to be successful within their job role.

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