Soft skills – like communication, problem solving and strategic thinking – can be almost impossible to measure. That is, unless you’re an expert.
Recruiters increasingly see the value in soft skills, but don’t always know the best way to judge them.
Enter Mike Shekhtman, regional manager for Robert Half
in BC, a pro at identifying whether a candidate’s non-technical abilities will pair with what an organization wants.
Here, he shares his tips for how to tell if a recruit is the right fit.
Companies need to remember that when it comes to finding the right professionals for their business, they’re hiring a person, not a resume. Organizations benefit from having collaborative employees who can communicate easily with teams across all areas of the company; not only does this allow for improved idea-sharing, but ultimately paves the way for more innovative, strategic business solutions. And while technical skills are something that a worker can develop more quickly through straightforward training or hands-on work, soft skills, like communication, problem solving and strategic thinking abilities, are considerably more difficult to teach.
Here are five tips for HR professionals when it comes to evaluating and developing a candidate’s soft skills:
1. Ask behavioural interview questions. These types of questions can be effective in assessing a candidate’s soft skills. Ask about prior work experience and how they collaborated to complete a project successfully. Provide a scenario that your organization is facing and ask how they would work with diverse personalities and business interests to find a solution. Get a sense of how they’ve dealt with a difficult customer or challenging team member.
2. Get in a little leg work. Test both verbal and written communication skills during the interview process. A simple assignment such as researching your organization’s website and asking candidates to respond via email about the most interesting company news they found on the website and why can demonstrate written communication abilities. You can also give candidates a simple business problem and ask them to follow up with a call to explain how they might approach solving that problem. This way, you can test their communication skills, while getting insight into their problem-solving abilities.
3. Make the most of references. Get specific examples of soft skills when talking to a candidate’s references. Of course, you’ll want to ascertain that the candidate has the right technical skills, but inquiring about how they performed as a previous employee or coworker in certain scenarios can also provide a helpful third party perspective on a candidate’s soft skills.
4. Provide learning opportunities. Help current employees develop communication skills by offering new learning opportunities, like a public speaking course or business writing workshop, either in-house or via an external provider. Leadership training can also help employees with strategic and big-picture thinking and enhance management and communication skills.
5. Get out of their comfort zone. Consider establishing role-rotation opportunities for your staff. Not only does this give employees access to diverse viewpoints and new strategic insight, it also enhances their communication and collaboration skills. Getting to work in multiple facets of the organization helps employees gain a greater understanding of their colleagues’ positions, priorities and challenges; as an opportunity to enhance their own business acumen and grow their careers, this can also increase their loyalty to their company.
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