How to Assess Soft Skills in an Interview


Soft skills differentiate the candidate who looks good on paper from the one who will get the job done while adding value to your organization and thriving in a particular work environment. However, soft skills can be difficult to quantify; the effectiveness of soft skills test such as personality tests, for example, is debatable. With that being said, if talent scouts and human resources professionals ask the right questions, it is easy to tell whether or not a candidate has the right soft skills for a job. 

Read on to learn how to effectively assess soft skills during your candidate search.

Ask Behavioral Questions

Soft skills drive advancement and separate successful employees from the rest. Interviewing is the easiest way to determine whether or not a candidate has soft skills. It’s easy to write that you have them on a resume, but a structured interview puts those statements to the test when the right questions are asked. Using a behavioral approach to interviewing allows candidates to show their soft skills, or lack thereof. Behavioral questions are open-ended which gives candidates an opportunity to describe their individual experiences in their own way. Talent scouts and recruitment firms can then use follow-up questions to clarify points and better understand candidates’ responses.

Behavioral Questions Reveal Self-Awareness

There are several questions talent scouts and recruitment firms ask, and we will outline a couple of our favorites and why they are effective. One example is the question, “Can you tell me about a time when you had to ask for help?” We like this question because it allows candidates to demonstrate honesty and self-awareness. The worst response you can get to this question is, “I can’t remember the last time I had to ask for help.” If you receive a response like this during your candidate search, beware because the interviewee is likely not telling the truth and feels the only way to make a good impression is to be perfect. A hire like this lacks self-awareness and may not admit when they make mistakes. 

Sometimes, candidates try to answer the question by saying something along the lines of, “I thought I had the best solution but I hit a roadblock, so I asked for help, and realized I had the best plan all along.” We will acknowledge that it’s positive they admitted they needed help, but they did not take the advice they received. 

The candidate whose soft skills shine is the one who admits they had a problem, were receptive to feedback, and implemented the advice they received. 

Behavioral Questions Reveal Resilience

Understanding how a prospective team member responds to pressure is a valuable insight you can gain during your candidate search. One question to assess this capability is, “How did you learn from failing at work?” An ideal response would show that a candidate failed, learned from that failure and excelled in response. Any candidate who cannot admit they failed is one to avoid. They may not have been in a challenging work environment, so it is hard to guess how they will respond to adversity if you hire them. Good HR professionals and talent scouts can tell when a candidate is being transparent and reflective by asking this question, so pay close attention to the answers you receive.

Finding the right candidates requires patience and a dedicated team of talent scouts and recruiters. Soft skills matter, so it is important to listen to those who have extensive experience finding employees who will seamlessly fit into your organization.

Ask the Right Questions with the Top Recruitment Firm in Washington D.C.

We want to help you find the right candidates with the perfect mix of hard and soft skills. We are committed to your needs, so rest assured, we are the recruiters you can trust. 

“Make It Personal” is more than a tagline to us; it’s the way we do business. At Turn2Partners, we recruit the best finance, accounting, HR, administrative and technology talent in the Washington D.C. area. If you are ready to hire candidates who will exceed your expectations, contact us today.