How to Weigh Soft Skills During Interviews

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Traditional interview questions often focus too much on experience. Interviewers ask candidates if they possess certain skills or how they’ve used those skills in the past. Those are good and necessary questions, but they don’t provide a complete picture of candidates –  especially soft skills.

In fact, the focus on soft skills has been pushed to the forefront lately. Even investment giant Mark Cuban has recently expressed their importance when creating a lasting career. A thorough interview should assess the candidate’s soft skills – like emotional intelligence, adaptability, and communication – as well as hard skills – like computer coding or writing proficiency. These tactics will help interviewers gain the most insight from their future interviews.

Use the power of three

Sometimes, it takes more than one person to completely assess a candidate. That’s why Monster recommends taking a team approach to the hiring process. Essentially, there should be three main stakeholders in the interview: an advocate for the company, a technical expert and a peer.

The technical expert, who is often a manager, can assess the candidate for hard skills, while the peer – someone in the same or similar position – can assess for soft skills. Meanwhile, the company advocate is there to answer questions posed by the candidate and talk about the benefits of working for the organization.

This three-pronged approach ensures that the hiring team covers all bases, increasing the chances that the final hire will be a well-rounded professional who can bring real value to the team and to the company.

Ask candidates to self-assess

Asking candidates to self-assess can be a challenge because they tend to try to impress the interviewer. No one wants to kill their own chances of securing a job by downplaying their soft skills.

To circumvent this issue, LinkedIn Talent Blog contributor John Sullivan recommends asking candidates to rank their soft skills. Ranking forces candidates to reveal which soft skill they believe is their strongest. Then, the interviewer can assess that skill and determine which candidate will make the best hire.

Try personality tests

Personality tests are not an exact science, but they can be a helpful tool for interviewers. Personality tests allow hiring managers to get a closer look at how candidates might react in certain job-specific situations.

HR should always be in charge of administering these kinds of tests to ensure full compliance with all hiring laws.

Align candidates with company culture

Your employees shape your company culture – but the opposite is also true. There is a give and take between individual influence and collective appeal. A managed culture promotes good habits, teamwork and accountability. Hiring managers should consider giving candidates an office tour to see how they interact with the culture.

To summarize, hiring managers should consider:

  • Involving more stakeholders in the interview process
  • Asking candidates to assess their own skills
  • Implementing personality tests
  • Using company culture as a hiring tool


This article originally appeared on the JazzHR blog.