Many business owners and hiring managers are far too reactive (and rushed) when it comes to making a hire. They spend the majority of the assessment process focusing on technical skills, in the hope that the new hire will be able to hit the ground running with minimal hand-holding.
However, focusing entirely on someone’s hard skills often results in a poor hire, not from the perspective of saving on training time, but from the way that the new hire interacts with your existing team and other key stakeholders.
Many organisations fail to focus on soft skills because they believe that a certain degree of emotional intelligence in the workplace goes without saying and has no need to be assessed.
The reality is, this isn’t always the case. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and a high level of technical expertise doesn’t automatically mean good team skills or the ability to communicate that expertise to others.
Soft skills are those behavioural competencies, related to a person’s EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), that enable them to interact with and influence others, be they team mates, customers, suppliers or management.
While not easily defined or assessed, what business could say they don’t want their employees to possess qualities such as these?
An organisation can have the highest level of knowledge and expertise, but if they lack customer service skills, if their employees are always bickering, or they have a high staff turnover, chances are they have a lack of soft skills where they matter most.
Often the only difference between two companies in the same industry is their customer service and client handling skills, so hiring with softer skills in mind such as communication, flexibility and friendliness would be the obvious way to gain an advantage over a competitor.
Having employees who work effectively together towards your organisation’s success is vital, so hiring people who exhibit negotiation, team building and conflict resolution skills also makes a lot of sense.
Evaluating soft skills is more difficult than determining whether someone can perform a particular task. How do you test for integrity, honesty or team work?
Behavioural based interviews can be used to pinpoint soft skills, and there are particular questions you can ask to determine whether the skills you are looking for are present in a candidate. For example:
Obviously hard skills are vital in many jobs, such as knowing how to use a certain type of software or being certified in a particular area of expertise. However, in those industries where companies are maintaining relationships with clients and dealing with customers (which is most industries these days), soft skills or ‘people skills’ are equally important, if not more so.
So while it might take a bit more effort to assess softer skills in a potential candidate, it can be well worth it in the long run. Those employees who possess both hard and soft skills are much more likely to:
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