Decoding Soft Skills

Steve Lowisz
Soft skills are a combination of skills and traits that people possess which allows them to interact or work well with others. It’s a pretty ambiguous term; everyone has a different interpretation on what these skills are and which ones they want to see in a candidate.

Are Soft Skill Important in Every Role? 

These skills are certainly valuable in outward facing roles where an employee connects with others outside of their organization. A person in a position such as a customer relationship manager or a salesperson must have some degree of soft skills in order to effectively do their job.

Generally, a variation of soft skills are ideal in most positions where communication is a large part of the job, especially management.

Many roles within industries like IT or engineering don’t need to focus as much on these skills as a lot of their work can be done independently.

Lacking soft skills does not need to be a deal-breaker in positions where success doesn’t rely heavily on communication.

What Are Some Indicators of Soft Skills in a Candidate?

• Strong eye contact
• Engaging conversation 
• Personable 
• Empathetic 
• Adaptable 

Identifying Skills with the Hiring Manager

Hard Skills are easier for a hiring manager to identify since they’re the teachable or measurable abilities. It’s a no-brainer to list if a candidate needs to be certified in a skill, knowledgeable about artificial intelligence, or familiar with a specific coding language for a role.

It’s much more difficult to pinpoint the soft skills needed for someone to harmoniously fit in with an organization. During intake, the recruiter needs to ask the hiring manager the right questions to reveal the necessary soft skills. The recruiter should then take this information and flip it into situational questions for candidates. Comparing answers should allow the recruiter to decipher which candidates align best for the role.

Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager:

• What are some challenges a person might face in this role?
• Do any responsibilities require a lot of team collaboration?
• Will this person have to simultaneously juggle various tasks?
• Do last-minute changes tend to arise in this role?

Questions to Ask the Candidate:

• What are some challenges you’ve faced in the past and how did you overcome them?
• How have you handled working with someone you did not see eye-to-eye with?
• How do you cope when you have multiple tasks to focus on?
• When have you dealt with last-minute changes and how did you adapt?

Remember, hard skills can always be learned through training, but you can’t train personality; you are who you are. Performance and personality are equally important to consider during the hiring process. A recruiter must focus on both hard skills AND soft skills in order to make the perfect placemen