Soft Skills To Look For During The Hiring Process

Posted by Brian Rudolph on 3/11/19 9:09 AM
Brian Rudolph
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As employers seek to improve the cultural richness and success of their organization, they turn to new hires to bring new skills and fresh perspectives to teams. In terms of hiring practices, we are seeing a shift away from an emphasis on hard skills in favor of a closer focus on soft skills.

Hard skills are the technical, specific abilities that can be taught. Soft skills, on the other hand, are generally more subjective and elusive, referring to personal and interpersonal qualities and characteristics. The advantage of soft skills is that they give employers a deeper insight into their potential hire.

Below you will find some of the most important soft skills to consider when recruiting for your next vacancy:

Critical Soft Skills

Communication Skills: We know it’s an obvious one but it bears repeating; communication skills should never be under-estimated in recruitment. Communication means being able to articulate well, listen and also be aware of body language. We don’t mean great writing skills as these are seen as hard skills. We mean the ability to understand and be understood, coupled with the willingness and ability to listen.

Collaboration: Take a look at most resumes and they focus on individual achievements, but in the majority of roles you will need a team player, someone who is able to collaborate. Some companies evaluate this through the use of assessment centers but it isn’t an appropriate strategy for every employer. Ask candidates about group projects they’ve taken part in either as a leader or in a support role and always ask the question about teamwork when carrying out reference checks.

Motivation: All employers want self-starters who are able to work with minimal supervision. Motivation is a difficult one to measure but a resume that reflects a varied and active life outside of the working environment is a good indicator of someone who is curious and therefore more likely to be self-motivated.

Creativity: Creativity is one of the most sought-after skills as it generally brings with it innovation and problem-solving abilities. It is also an innate, rather than a teachable, skill. Competency-based questions and psychometric tests can help to evaluate the extent of a candidate’s creative skills.

Flexibility: Creativity is often accompanied by flexibility which brings with it a positive attitude. Flexible candidates demonstrate an ability to think outside the box and are confident that everything will work out for the best. They possess the ability to adapt to change and challenges rather than remain on a fixed path.

Patience: An often under-rated soft skill, patience is essential for the success of long-term complex projects that require in-depth work and high levels of concentration. It’s not an easy quality to measure but a very useful trait in a candidate. To evaluate patience, look for evidence of ongoing, long-term projects within a candidate’s resume.

Strong work ethic: Of course, this soft skill is high on every employer’s list. The top performers have a strong work ethic and a determination to achieve targets. This is another difficult one to assess but should be apparent from the candidate’s achievements and again confirmed by reference checks.


As more companies chase top talent, soft skills will continue to grow in importance. While hard skills are teachable, it is the elusive, inherent soft skills that can often mean the difference between success and failure in a hire. 

If your organization has had a history of missing signals during the hiring process that a candidate lacks crucial soft skills in order to be successful, get in touch with us. We'd love to help fill your interview pipeline with top candidates.

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Topics: Interviewing For Employers, Human Resources