Soft Skills in Recruitment and How to Assess Them

In today’s competitive job market, recruiters and hiring managers face the challenge of finding the right candidates with the necessary technical skills, qualifications, and experience. However, an often-overlooked aspect of recruitment is assessing candidates’ soft skills. Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving, are crucial in the workplace and can significantly impact an organization’s success. This article will discuss the importance of soft skills in recruitment and provide tips on how to assess them effectively.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are personal attributes and interpersonal skills that enable individuals to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. These skills are not necessarily tied to a specific job or industry but are valuable in any work setting. Some examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication: The ability to convey information effectively and clearly to others.
  • Teamwork: The ability to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adjust to changes in a work environment and respond positively to new challenges.
  • Problem-solving: The ability to identify and analyze problems and develop effective solutions.
  • Leadership: The ability to motivate and guide others towards achieving a common goal.

Why are Soft Skills Important in Recruitment?

Soft skills are essential in the workplace for several reasons. They enable employees to work effectively with others, resolve conflicts, and adapt to changing circumstances. A study conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center found that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, while only 15% comes from technical skills and knowledge.

Moreover, soft skills can impact an organization’s overall success. Employees with strong soft skills can increase good chances in job vacancies, productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce staff turnover. On the other hand, employees lacking soft skills can hinder the growth and development of the organization, causing tension and conflicts within teams, and negatively affecting the company’s bottom line.

How to Assess Soft Skills in Recruitment?

Assessing soft skills in recruitment can be challenging, as they are not as straightforward as technical skills. However, there are several effective methods that recruiters and hiring managers can use to assess candidates’ soft skills.

Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions are designed to assess candidates’ past behavior and how they have handled specific situations. These questions can provide insight into a candidate’s communication skills, problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and teamwork skills. Examples of behavioral interview questions include:

  • Can you describe a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker or team member?
  • How have you handled a difficult customer or client in the past?
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to adapt to a new work environment or project?

Group Exercises

Group exercises involve bringing candidates together and assigning them a task or problem to solve as a team. This exercise can provide insight into a candidate’s teamwork skills, communication skills, and leadership abilities. Group exercises can include role-playing, brainstorming sessions, and case studies.

Skills Assessment Tests

Skills assessment tests can be used to evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills, and attention to detail. These tests can be designed specifically for the job role and can provide objective insights into a candidate’s soft skills.

Reference Checks

Reference checks involve contacting a candidate’s previous employers, colleagues, or mentors to gain insight into their soft skills. These individuals can provide valuable information about a candidate’s communication skills, teamwork abilities, and overall work ethic.

Soft skills are not innate abilities

Furthermore, it is important to note that soft skills are not innate abilities, but rather skills that can be developed and improved over time with proper training and practice. Therefore, organizations should prioritize training and development programs that focus on enhancing employees’ soft skills.

Regular feedback

One effective way to develop employees’ soft skills is through regular feedback and coaching sessions. Managers should provide constructive feedback to their employees on a regular basis, highlighting areas where they can improve their soft skills.

Additionally, coaching sessions can help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to improve their soft skills.

Opportunities to attend training workshops

Moreover, organizations can provide their employees with opportunities to attend training workshops, seminars, and conferences that focus on developing soft skills.

These training programs can be either in-house or external, and they can cover a wide range of soft skills such as communication, leadership, teamwork, conflict resolution, and time management.

Create a work culture that values and rewards employees

Another way to encourage the development of soft skills is to create a work culture that values and rewards employees for their soft skills.

Organizations can recognize and reward employees who demonstrate exceptional soft skills through promotions, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. This can help create a positive work environment that encourages employees to develop and improve their soft skills.


In conclusion, soft skills are essential in the workplace, and assessing them effectively in recruitment is crucial for an organization’s success.

Recruiting and hiring managers can use behavioral interview questions, group exercises, skills assessment tests, and reference checks to assess candidates’ soft skills. By using these methods, recruiters and hiring managers can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership abilities.

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