We live in an increasingly robotic world. Everything is becoming more and more automated and technology-driven. Even in the workplace, machinery and equipment replace people in countless industries.
However, machinery and technology aren’t the only “robots” in the workforce. People can be a sort of robots as well. For example, if someone is entirely hard-skill oriented, with few soft skills to provide balance, they can give off the impression of an efficient, expert (but rather boring) robot.
When it comes right down to it, no one really wants to work with robots.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills — What’s the Difference?
Hard skills are usually job-specific and more easily learned or taught. They are essential and, in most industries, necessary.
However, soft skills are transferable, applicable in any industry, and defined mainly by interaction with others. While soft skills are learnable, they tend to be associated with personality and character. For example, communication, interpersonal skills, leadership, time management, and initiative are soft skills.
While both are important, 93% of employers believe soft skills are pivotal in hiring. Many would rather hire a teachable, soft-skilled candidate with less experience than someone whose resume “checks all the boxes.”
However, more than 60% of hiring managers say gauging soft skills and behavioral traits can be challenging.
Picking Up on Soft Skills
Hard skills are listed on the resume and verified with certificates and portfolios. But your first opportunity to gauge soft skills, behavior, and character is during the interview. Here are some tips to help you out:
Know What You Want
The first thing is to know precisely what you want. What kind of soft skills do you prefer? What behavioral tendencies have caused problems before and are red flags? What traits are merely nice to have, and which are imperative? What will you use to measure top-tier performance in candidates? It comes down to knowing what is best for the company and the rest of the team.
This clarity also helps you create first-rate job descriptions, leading to first-rate candidates.
Ask Good Questions
Plan questions that reveal relevant soft skills, behaviors, and experiences. Ask for situational examples about their adaptability to challenges, conflict resolution, and career priorities. These questions highlight many of the desired, or not so desired, traits.
Questions that begin with, ‘Where have you shown’ and ‘How would you deal with’ are also excellent, open-ended questions for screening soft skills.
Remember, this isn’t an interrogation but a conversation! The more comfortable a candidate is, the more they will be themselves.
Watch the Candidate
With a clear idea of what you’re seeking and a handful of insightful questions in your back pocket, you have the tools you need to discover the talent you want on your team. However, watch the candidate throughout the interview process as well. Remember, the interview starts the moment they walk in the door, so keep an eye open for how they treat those around them. Watch their body language — is it positive and respectful? Watch for eye contact — are they attentive and focused? Listen to their communication style? Is it warm and personable but also clear and compelling?
Check the References
It’s easy to brush this off as just another step in the process. But don’t underestimate the power of good references. Use the same tools you used during the interview. Ask good questions. Observe (or listen) for the tell-tales of truth in people’s voices as they corroborate what the candidate has told you.