Are Soft Skills Hard to Find?

It is particularly difficult to find and hire the best talent today. Many of our clients are refocusing on recruiting best practices. At Soteria, we examine and implement the proper techniques for both employee recruitment and selection.
Companies are seeking more of a “whole person” gauge of candidates. In addition to assessing hard skills, companies are looking to evaluate personality traits, cultural fit and motivational drivers. These soft skills can determine the difference between candidates who thrive over the long run and those who quickly derail. We see that people can have top-notch skills and knowledge, but if they aren’t motivated or aren’t the right personality fit for the work, they won’t last. Therefore, it is key to identify and prioritize the hard and soft skills for your open job positions.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are quantifiable and are often learned through classes, on the job or via books. These skills are teachable and can be developed through dedicated training. They are often related to a specific field and require particular knowledge. For many careers, specific hard skills may be prerequisites. The most common examples include:

  • Academic qualifications and degrees
  • Foreign language fluency
  • Computer skills
  • Industry-specific certifications

In most cases, these hard skills can be confirmed via college records, employment tests, and verified past experiences.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are non-technical skills that are generally not specific to a job or industry. They can be applied to many different roles and are always desirable no matter the position you are looking to fill. 
Here are some beneficial soft skills characteristics: 

  • Adaptable
  • Clear communicator
  • Collaborative
  • Compassionate
  • Dedicated
  • Empathetic
  • Patient
  • Perseverant
  • Problem solver
  • Responsible
  • Takes initiative
  • Team player

In the past, soft skills were considered to be innate or self-developed. The value of soft skills is now widely recognized with 92% of hiring managers agreeing that candidates with strong soft skills are increasingly important. Therefore, soft skill coaching has become readily available. However, the ability to learn and utilize soft skills is still impacted by a person’s personality and mindset. 

How can you incorporate soft skills assessments in your recruiting process?

Unfortunately, 75% of HR managers report catching a lie on a resume. You want to make sure to uncover a candidate’s true soft skill capabilities. Here are three ways to do so:

1. Pre-Screening Conversations

Initial phone calls and meetings with possible candidates can take a lot of time, but it is necessary to get an initial read on a person’s soft skills. Here you can ask candidates how they have used their soft skills in the past and how their soft skills may help them with the open position. Make sure to take notes to compare answers throughout the recruiting process.

2. Interviews

It is appropriate to ask candidates behavioral questions during a formal interview. Here is a small sample of questions where a candidate’s answers can provide deep insights into their soft skill set.

  • Communication: Can you tell me about a time when you and one of your co-workers miscommunicated? How did you handle the situation?
  • Integrity: Was there ever a time when you saw a co-worker do something wrong? What did you do?
  • Responsibility: Can you tell me about a time when you fell behind in your workload? What did you do?

3. Pre-Employment Assessments

Another component to incorporate into your recruiting process is to require candidates to take a job-fit test. This is a pre-employment test that may help to determine whether a candidate would fit well within your organization.
Job-fit tests can improve company satisfaction with new hires by 77% because these tests help hiring managers learn about a candidate’s personality, interest in the job, values and job expectations through a series of standardized questions. The test typically takes 30-45 minutes and may ask candidates to talk about their personal preferences or include questions about the work environment and working with others.
If you need help finding the best candidates to fill your open positions, please reach out to us here

Samantha Harwood