How To Determine a Candidate’s Soft Skills

Jackie MacGregor

We’re in the middle of a qualified candidate shortage. Sure, there are candidates out there on the market but they’re not the right candidates for your business and your ambitions. But could you be missing out on crucial hires because you are not assessing soft skills successfully?

Soft skills – unlike hard skills such as academic qualifications, foreign language capabilities or operating a specific type of machinery – can be hard to put a fine point on. Yet, they are critical when it comes to assessing whether or not a candidate will make a positive impact on your business both in the long and short term.

But because soft skills seem so intangible, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask in order to establish how good a candidate really is. How can you tell if someone copes under pressure until they’re in a stressful situation? Is a candidate good at challenging the status quo in a manner that is positive? What are they really like when a customer is being difficult or demanding? Are they supportive and collaborative with their colleagues?

If you’re a hiring manager or responsible in any way for the recruitment process at your company, you’re going to want to keep reading. Here are some key questions that you can ask at interview to help you determine a candidate’s soft skills.

Managing Up

Have you ever had to push back on a more senior member of staff over an idea or project? How did you do this? How did the situation resolve itself?


Have you ever relayed instructions to a colleague / customer that they didn’t understand? How did you improve this?


Have you ever worked with someone who you felt wasn’t being collaborative within your team? How did you resolve this?


Tell me about a time you noticed an issue or problem in your workplace that was preventing things from flowing the way they should. What did you do to create better processes?

Managing Relationships

Tell me about the types of customers you have. How do you manage your relationships with them (all the way through to the buying stage, if appropriate)?


How do you cope when you feel like you’re not being listened to?

Calm Under Pressure

Tell me about a time when you had multiple deadlines to meet – how did you plan and prioritise your time? What organizational processes do you like to use?


How do you work out what your top priorities are on a weekly or monthly basis?

It can be a challenge to incorporate such questions into your interview process, and to know how to reflect upon the answers given. I’m always on hand to advise my clients as to how a candidate has their performed and how suitable they would be for their business.

If you have a recruitment need within Office Services, Sales & Marketing, Multi-Lingual or Call & Contact Centre, my team and I would be delighted to help. Click here to drop me an email and get in touch.


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