As we move into 2023, it's more important than ever to consider the significance of soft skills in your recruitment process, especially if you're automating them within your CRM. While technical skills are certainly essential for many roles, the ability to communicate effectively, work well in a team, and think critically are just as vital (or even more so!).
With 53% of employers saying soft skills are essential to making a final hiring decision and 54% of candidates not even putting soft skills into their CVs, the disconnect is definitely something to think about – and as a recruiter, it’s your job to close that gap.
What are soft skills and why are they so important?
Even though you surely know what soft skills are, we can’t skip a short introduction: Soft skills, also known as interpersonal people skills or emotional intelligence, have become more important to clients as they are vital for a candidate’s professional growth and development. They cover a range of qualities that enable individuals to effectively interact, collaborate, and communicate with others. Some important soft skills to look out for in your candidates are communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership.
With the amount of technology available at the tip of our fingers it's easy to allow our CRM to rank and score our candidates - but it carries a lot of risks. After all, it’s really easy for candidates to tailor CVs or cover letters exactly to the company’s needs. And whilst we’re not saying candidates necessarily lie in their resumes, there is a chance that they adapt their wording, experience, and skills to exactly what the client is looking for. That’s where you come in as a recruiter.
Whilst talking to some other recruiters recently, the recurring theme lately seems to be candidates going through the entire screening process only to be rejected by the client at the very end for not having the right soft skills required for the role. And whilst it’s something that can happen, it shouldn’t be as common as it seems to be now.
Your skills at screening and interviewing a candidate are really important - even more so with AI such as ChatGPT at people’s fingertips! Only with human interaction are you able to assess what a person is like in terms of their soft skills so you can ensure that you are matching them to the right job role and cultural fit for your clients. But how exactly can you do it effectively these days?
How to assess soft skills
Knowing that soft skills are important and being able to actually notice them during the interview can be two very different things. Especially in the AI era, where candidates might use technology to produce amazingly tailored CVs, your role as a recruiter is more important than ever. We’ve covered some of the most crucial soft skills to look out for and ways of assessing them during your interview process:
Communication lies at the heart of all successful professional interactions. Great, but how do you decide whether someone’s communication skills are high or low? After all, they are answering your questions and responding, right? Well, start with observing their verbal and non-verbal communication during interviews. Look for candidates who speak clearly, listen actively, and articulate their thoughts in a concise and coherent manner – but also display reactions to your statements. Their ability to ask thoughtful questions, provide thoughtful responses, and adapt their communication style to different audiences is indicative of strong communication skills.
Ahh, the beloved teamwork – everyone knows candidates should have it, but few realise what it actually means and how to look for it. To assess a candidate's teamwork skills, delve into their past experiences working in teams. Ask behavioural-based interview questions that require candidates to provide examples of how they have worked with others to achieve common goals. Look for candidates who demonstrate the ability to work well with diverse teams, actively contribute ideas, and resolve conflicts constructively. Positive references from previous team members can also provide insights into a candidate's collaboration and teamwork abilities.
Another pretty word that candidates often put into their resumes without much to back it up with. To gauge a candidate's adaptability, ask them about situations where they have had to adapt to change or handle unexpected challenges. Look for candidates who demonstrate a willingness to learn new things, adapt to different work environments, and thrive in dynamic settings. Assess their ability to remain calm under pressure and their openness to feedback and constructive criticism, as these qualities are indicative of adaptability and flexibility.
To assess a candidate's problem-solving skills, present them with scenarios or case studies that require analytical thinking and creative problem-solving. Observe their approach to identifying root causes, generating potential solutions, and evaluating the pros and cons of each option. Look for candidates who demonstrate a logical and systematic approach to problem-solving, as well as the ability to think critically and adapt their strategies when faced with new information.
Last but not least, if you’re interviewing a candidate for a management role, leadership is the first thing to look for. To identify leadership potential in candidates, search for evidence of their ability to influence and motivate others. During interviews, ask candidates about their experiences in leadership roles, their approach to delegating tasks, and how they have inspired and mentored team members. Look for candidates who demonstrate emotional intelligence, the ability to communicate a clear vision and a track record of successfully leading and guiding others towards achieving shared goals.
As a recruiter, you need to find out from your client what soft skills are necessary for the role and be able to assess them in your candidates so you know you are putting the best ones forward for the job - not just the candidates with the best technical CVs.
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Awesome Aussie Beth is an experienced recruiter and Growth Executive here at Firefish. She has a huge love of the industry and a real passion for helping recruiters to change the way they recruit.