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How Can You Assess A Candidate’s Soft Skills?

Published: Tuesday 29th September 2015

Interviewer assessing skills of a candidate

Soft skills include personality traits, personal habits, and interpersonal skills. They characterise how a candidate relates to other people. Recent research by Development Economics shows that more than half of UK employers value these skills more highly than qualifications.

When you’re assessing a potential candidate, it can be tempting to only look at the measurable, hard skills mentioned on their CV. Although there is no doubt that these are important, a candidate can only be a good fit for your client if they possess the right soft skills, such as communication and organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure. But how can you assess if your candidate has the right attitude?

Psychometric testing

Psychometric tests can help a recruiter a candidate’s skills, knowledge and personality. Although they can be expensive to set up, they are convenient and because they are usually completed online, they can be set up on a large scale. Most psychometric tests are timed. There are two main types: personality tests and aptitude tests. Personality tests indicate a candidate’s interests, values and motivations and analyse their behaviours. This can show a recruiter how they would fit in with the existing company culture. Aptitude tests focus on a candidate’s reasoning and cognitive ability.

Assessment days

Assessment centres assess your candidate’s suitability for the job through various tasks and activities, allowing employers to test skills that aren’t necessarily accessible in a traditional interview. They’re hosted over a one-, two- or three-day period, and you’ll usually be joined by six to eight other candidates. It’s often the final stage of the selection process for large graduate recruiters.

Trial days

Sometimes, an employer might ask a candidate to come and join the company for either one or more trial days. This will allow them to see how the candidate fits in with the existing office culture and how they interact with their potential colleagues. These trial days tend to be paid and it can be the case that more than one candidate is invited to attend the trial simultaneously.

Behavioural interview

Asking complex questions during a job interview is one of the best – and cheapest – ways to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills. Instead of asking questions that directly relate to a candidate’s CV, a recruiter should ask about specific examples from the candidate’s work history to indicate their skills and experience. These types of interview questions can include asking about a work situation the candidate feel they handled well or the industry leaders they admire. By assessing a candidate’s past behaviour and experiences, you can tell a lot about their communication style and their specific skills, such as those needed for problem-solving and working as part of a team.

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