The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

February 10, 2020

Evaluating a Candidate’s Soft Skills


Assessing a candidate’s soft skills in an interview is just as important as understanding their hard skills. To properly gauge their abilities, you as the hiring manager must ask open-ended questions. Leading questions where the most desirable answer is “yes” will most likely result in an incorrect reading of the candidate and their true abilities. To get a more accurate understanding of the candidate, be sure to give them the reins and let them showcase their marketable skills.

See What the Candidate Says

Instead of asking a candidate if they have a certain soft skill, ask them to list the soft skills they believe they have. If you limit how many they can rattle off, you eliminate the possibility of them saying skills simply to appease you and fit the requirements of the position. Once they have listed these skills, dig deeper. Ask them to rank their skills from their strongest to their weakest and take note of where each skill falls in the scope of what your organization values most in the position you are hiring for.

Ask Their References if They Agree

When running reference checks on the candidate, do not forget to inquire about their soft skills as well. While referrals are more likely than not going to only advertise the positive qualities of the candidate, note that you can ask specific questions to get more genuine responses. Ask the referrer what soft skills the candidate excels with and in what ways they utilized these skills in their previous position. From here you can deduce whether or not these soft skills align with what you are seeking.

Test if Their Abilities Measure Up

Testing the candidate’s skills rather than merely asking about them will give you a more accurate indication of what the candidate has to offer. Give the candidate a problem-solving question and have them walk you through their logic and process. There are also online tests that you can have candidates sit as a means of gauging their strengths. Either option will allow you to gain the confidence that the candidate has the skills needed to fulfill the position.

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