How To Assess A Candidate's Soft Skills?

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During the process of evaluating a prospective candidate, many recruiters seek out quantifiable hard skills as an important criterion. However, a candidate’s soft skills are also a significant component in determining whether they will be a good match to the available position.

What classifies as soft skills?

Soft skills normally describe effective communication skills, dependability, leadership skills, critical thinking, creativity, relationship management, self-motivation, confidence, team work, organisational skills and lengthy list of intangible traits. Although these skills are hard to measure by simply glancing through a candidate’s resume, they continue to be pursued and recognised by recruiters. Many employers are aware that hard skills can be taught with on-the-job training. However, soft skills such as creativity are unique and cannot be trained. This is the primary reason recruiters interview the most qualified candidate to assess a good balance of both hard and soft skills.


Communication skills are highly sought after in a variety of industries. The recruiter can examine the candidate’s cover letter to evaluate their communication skills as a well-written, succinct, errorless resume and cover letter are a good indicator that the candidate is expressive and eloquent. During the interview, the confidence and language with which a candidate communicates is a good indicator of their leadership capabilities and interpersonal relationship skills. Just asking a candidate to speak about themselves can reveal their level of self-confidence and interpersonal skills. Recruiters can also include a written test during the interview to test the candidate’s hard and soft skills simultaneously. You can request the candidate to write a sample press release for the company’s advertising campaign, or compose a relevant response to a hypothetical email. This gives the recruiter an opportunity to view the candidate’s work method in action rather than taking their word for it.

Questions on past behavior

Complex questioning from a behavioral perspective is a valuable method to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills during an interview. Behavioral interview questions are relevant because they interrelate with the candidate’s real-life experiences as opposed to hypothetical questions and scenarios. Instead of asking, “What would your solution be to a potential issue?” ask “How did you handle an issue similar to this in your past?”. Behavior-centered questions are great in determining a candidate’s soft skills as past behavior is a more accurate indication of future success than potential behavior. Hypothetical questions about potential behavior can result in the candidate providing bias answers as to what they think the recruiter wants to hear.

Ask them to reveal their shortcomings

Requesting for real life examples will deliver more insights into a candidate’s soft skills. For example, asking them to describe a problem they encountered at their previous job and what did they do to resolve it will reveal how well they work under pressure and disclose their problem solving skills. These questions will also allow you to assess a candidate’s ability to self-analyse and correct their mistakes. Querying about their previous team-oriented projects, the difficulty of completion and how they overcame obstacles will be valuable to understand and evaluate the candidate’s organisational and management skills while working with a team.

Asking the right questions during an interview can be beneficial as it allows the recruiter to understand and evaluate the candidate’s soft skills and how well they are likely to perform on the job. Any of these methods can provide insights into a candidate’s soft skills, discovering a method to understand and assess soft skills will remain a vital factor of the hiring process.