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4 Ways to Assess Soft Skills in an Interview


A candidate’s resume can instantly tell you whether or not they have the technical experience, qualifications, and hard skills needed for a particular job. But even if a candidate looks like a good fit for your company on paper, they might not necessarily be one in person. That’s why the interview stage of the hiring process is so critical. This is when you and your team can assess more personal qualities to see if the candidate is a good cultural fit and if they’ll be an effective contributor. Soft skills, like critical thinking, communication, and teamwork, can be difficult to quantify but are essential attributes for predicting job performance and cultural fit. Whichever soft skills are the most important for the role you’re hoping to fill, there are ways to assess them during a candidate’s interview. Here are four great way to assess soft skills in an interview:

1. Behavioral questions

Behavioral interview questions are ones that get interviewees to open up about their real-life professional experiences. Some examples include:

  • Describe a time when you had a problem with a manager and how you resolved it.
  • Have you ever made a big mistake at work and, if so, how did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when your team was not working together effectively. What did you do to fix it?

When a person describes past experiences and the actions they took to deal with a particular situation, they offer insight into their ability to solve problems, work under pressure, and collaborate. And, by making some of your questions open-ended, you can often assess a candidate’s social literacy, self-awareness, and work ethic, while teeing up the opportunity to ask follow-up questions to probe for more information.

2. Situational questions

Situational questions are hypothetical in nature rather than based on actual experiences. They’re an opportunity to find out more about the candidate’s integrity, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Some examples include:

  • Are there any circumstances in which you think it would be ok to lie to a client?
  • What would you do if your team leader asked you to do something unethical in your job?
  • As a manager, how would you handle an employee who was chronically late and underperforming?

By asking these sorts of questions, you’re forcing candidates to think on their feet and respond quickly on an instinctual basis. You’re also getting a view into their sense of ethics so that you can assess if their approach to dealing with difficult situations aligns with your company’s.

3. Personal questions

Personal questions help an interviewer dig a little deeper into a candidate’s nature and personality. Asking how other people view them, work with them, and relate to them reveals how self-aware a candidate is. Some examples of questions include:

  • Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career so far?
  • What are you like to work with?
  • What kind of boss gets the most out of you?

You want to discover how they feel other people have contributed to their success, what they have learned from others, and how they view themselves in the workplace. This speaks volumes about how they will fit into your organization and align with its work culture.

4. Be observant

You don’t have to be a body language expert to pick up on nonverbal cues. It’s easy to tell if someone is at ease, makes appropriate eye contact, and appears to interact well with others. At the very least you want a candidate to be friendly, personable, and polite, and to dress appropriately for the role they are interviewing for. Think about your organization and the kind of personality traits that are needed to perform the role you’re recruiting for best. Do they need to be outgoing? Display creativity? Try to match your impressions with your knowledge of the job’s requirements.

5. Dig deep to better understand your candidates

Asking the right kinds of questions of a candidate and eliciting natural and open responses can give you much deeper insight into whether they can do the job as well as how well they will perform and fit into your company’s culture. So can observing how they behave during the interview process and monitoring any potential signals that they give off. Ready to automate your hiring process so you can focus more on candidate quality? See a demo of JazzHR today.


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