For those of you that don’t already know, Soft skills are “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude”. Basically, they’re the “street smarts” of the business world.
Soft skills by definition, aren’t really measurable in any specific quantifiable way. Often times soft skills are difficult to develop. So when hiring, how can you evaluate soft skills and be sure your candidate has the total package?
Here are some different methods to evaluate your candidates’ soft skills:
Projectships through ProSky allow candidates to work together on a project for your company over a period of time. Skill evaluation is done by putting groups of potential hires into these team projects with specified roles, then analyzing how they work together and react in real-life situations.
See someone that steps up to take the lead and is able to bring everybody together?
That’s a good indicator to hire that person!
Time management and being able to deliver on schedule are soft skills that can’t really be taught. Having a time limit puts a bit of pressure on the candidates and lets you see how they perform on a deadline as well as what attitude they approach this type of situation with.
Through projectships, candidates work with mentors and existing teams from your own company. This allows you to see how they fit in your work environment as if they were actually working for you.
Candidates also get a chance to see what their job would be like if they get the position. Win-win for both sides!
Although candidates work on projects in groups, they are still largely independent when it comes to working on tasks. Use this to evaluate soft skills like dependability, hard work, and going beyond what is asked.
Shorter than projects usually lasting around 24-48 hours, challenges are another technique to measure soft skills. Similar to a design sprint, these challenges help solve a specific problem and accomplish something for the company. Great for idea brainstorm sessions coming up with campaign ideas(creativity) quick market research (data analysis), or skills-based tests.
Skills-based tests, in particular, are an excellent way to analyze a variety of soft skills. How do you use this?
If you were looking to hire a software engineer you could host a 24-48 hr hackathon. You could give your candidates the guidelines and have them work together or on a team.
The challenge could even be to improve a feature of your current software or tackle another issue you've been experiencing. If you're using a product like ProSky you'll be able to watch your candidates code and work in real-time.
There are many benefits to projects and challenges for any position you're looking to fill from software to marketing. Projects and challenges not only are great ways to evaluate candidates in real-time, but also give the candidate insight into the company culture and the types of projects they might be working on.
Verbal communication skills can indicate whether or not candidates will fit in. This depends a lot on the culture and environment your employees work in, so figure out what communication soft skills will work best for your team!
For example, if you are a startup, keep in mind that not all candidates thrive in a startup environment. Know what skills work the best for your company, and know what skills can be taught versus which ones they should already come with.
Something else to keep in mind?
How a candidate writes can be just as important as verbal communication when it comes to hiring.
Writing is a soft skill that candidates should have before they start working for you. Confirm that their resume, cover letter, and email interactions are articulate and error-free. A simple writing task challenge can help you easily analyze their writing skill.
One job I applied for had a full on grammar/punctuation test where I had to correct a whole page of text that had a bunch of little errors scattered throughout. It was also filled with some high-level industry jargon that I would be dealing with in the job.
Misspellings and punctuation errors from your employees are unprofessional and reflect poorly on your company, so it’s important to test for this if written interaction with others is common with your job.
Engage with them
Pretty self-explanatory huh?
Any interaction with a candidate is an excellent indicator of how sociable and “socially able” they are =) Make use of valuable time to get a good understanding of what they’re like. Don’t just interview with them, interact!
Interview questions that are structured properly can help you identify soft skills the candidate has. They can give you a look into how they respond in certain situations or to different challenges.
Some examples of behavior-based questions to ask:
- Describe how they usually develop relationships with coworkers and supervisors
- A problem they solved in a creative way
- A time they had to deal with someone who was difficult to deal with
- Describe their ideal work environment and communication method
- Share a time you needed help or guidance on a project
- Share a time they had communication problems between their boss or coworkers. How did they handle the situation?
Recommendations, referrals & social profiles
Looking at resumes and references provided by candidates can sometimes be misleading and will only get you so far. If you’re serious about a candidate, you may need to do some cyber stalking!
Looking at social media profiles help you see beyond the facade that people put up in an interview. It’s a great way to see their personality and what they are truly like.
Social Media allows you to see the kind of people they are connected with and how they interact with others. Are they articulate and personable? Or do they write profanities and treat others rudely?
Digital profiles are a wonderful resource to see what kind of soft skills they have and what others think of them. If they’re trying to get hired for a social media position, it is useful for seeing how they promote themselves through their own profile!
Check to see if your candidates conduct themselves professionally, and that their profile pictures and posts support the image they conveyed in your interactions. Finding out their interests and hobbies can also determine if they are a likely fit for your company.
Of all the ways to evaluate soft skills, projectships and challenges are the best. Here’s why:
You can see candidates’ soft skills and hard skills come to life through interactions during projects and challenges. This is by far the most in-depth way of analyzing potential hires.
A project we had recently involved finding similar audiences for new book release. A group of candidates came up with numerous creative ways such as backward image search to find relevant media and influencers and news agencies that covered similar books. They displayed numerous soft skills and hard skills laying out the groundwork and foundation for a highly successful Kickstarter project.
The best part? On top of helping our client with recruitment, it had the added benefit of becoming the most crowd-funded original book in history!
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