When vetting potential hires, it’s easy to be impressed by their concrete achievements. Expertise in different software, languages, and other technical skills can easily make a resume stand out. But you may be overlooking something important: soft skills.

The majority of bad hires lack basic soft skills like communication, time management, and adaptability. This article will take you through why soft skills matter and how you can refine your hiring process in order to better evaluate candidates for these skills.


Why Soft Skills Matter

Soft skills (or interpersonal skills) are non-technical skills that have significant effects on the way someone works. These skills can be abstract and difficult to measure, but they make all the difference between a good and bad employee/coworker. If your employees have good soft skills, they will be more likely to succeed with their technical skills and training without having personal conflicts that might get in the way of their work.

Examples of important soft skills include:

  • Time management
  • Listening
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking
  • Compromise and negotiation
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Work ethic
  • Positivity


Evaluating for Soft Skills

As you can imagine, it’s often difficult to assess potential hires for soft skills. Before hiring someone, it’s impossible to know for sure how they will integrate into your team, and what it’s like to work with them on a daily basis. However, there are a few things to look for in the interview process that can help you find the strongest candidate:

  • Behavioral questions. Ask candidates to tell you about a time when they had to adapt to change or displayed great collaboration skills.
  • Situational questions. Present a hypothetical situation to your interviewee (for example, a conflict arising between two members of a work team), and ask them how they might respond.
  • Standardize your interview process. Evaluating soft skills is tricky, so asking each interviewee the same questions is essential to making your decision as simple as possible.


Developing Soft Skills Among Your Employees

Don’t forget about soft skills when the hiring is over. Here are some easy ways to continue fostering your employees’ soft skills:

  • Workshops, such as leadership training or manager development
  • Team bonding exercises and outings
  • Foster a company culture that values mentorship
  • Prioritize performance management
  • Measure soft skills using engagement scores, retention rates, and/or 360-degree assessments



While soft skills can seem very abstract, don’t give up on evaluating interviewees and current employees for them! Hiring workers with strong soft skills is a great way to ensure the success and longevity of your team.



Interested in learning more from professional recruiters? Contact Lucas James.