Workplace training

Soft Skills Assessment: How to Evaluate New Hires and Develop Your People

Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies

Soft skills are a broad category of abilities that aren't easily quantified - despite their growing importance in the workplace. Of course, hard skills such as certifications, university degrees, and work experience are equally important to small businesses and larger enterprises, but an employee who lacks soft skills can be detrimental to a team in more ways than one.

When evaluating candidates, it is natural to focus on the hard skills that a potential hire can offer to your company, but taking a closer look through a job skills assessment can provide a deeper insight into the kind of soft skills that they have to offer. 

These are skills that can be learned with the right training, so it's important to consider soft skills training an integral part of the hiring process. Soft skills are particularly important skills for team leads and managerial staff in order to manage others more effectively. 

A soft skills assessment test will help you to identify social attitudes and communication skills that are hard to identify during the interview process. Skills that include emotional intelligence and conflict management are critical to forging and maintaining strong and healthy relationships with clients and coworkers. Identifying and improving soft skills in employees who excel in hard skills is a good investment for a variety of reasons. 

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Types of soft skills

Companies need employees with strong, soft skills to meet the demand of personalization and empathy within a customer base. Soft skills are even more important for people - especially employees and contractors who work remotely - which has become far more commonplace since the pandemic hit.  

It can be hard to cultivate meaningful relationships without meeting people face to face, and unless you hire people who have strong interpersonal skills and an ability to solve problems, it will be challenging to deliver value to your people and clients alike. 

Soft Skills Assessment

What kind of soft skills should you be looking for in future hires? Here are just a few examples: 

1. Work ethic

Employees with a good work ethic are valuable because they are dependable and determined to fulfill their duties to the best of their ability. This includes consistently meeting deadlines as well as demonstrating a willingness to put in the extra effort when it's necessary.

2. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills, such as critical thinking, can be beneficial for upper and lower-level employees. There will always be issues to overcome in the workplace, and you don't want to hire someone whose hand you will have to hold every step of the way. 

3. Communication skills

The ability to hold a conversation and relate to others may seem like a 'nice to have,' but communication skills are vital for customer-focused positions and back-office positions alike. An inability to communicate effectively can be a major drawback to any team environment, and misunderstandings can easily lead to unnecessary conflicts. 

Soft Skills Assessment

4. "People skills"

People skills, or interpersonal skills, cover a wide array of soft skills that are required to build and maintain relationships. A person with good people skills will be able to effectively communicate and understand constructive feedback, as well as maintain a diplomatic stance with everyone by respecting others' opinions and empathizing with them, too. Conflicts will undoubtedly occur in the workplace, and a person with good people skills will be able to navigate the circumstances and come to a resolution without needing to involve senior management. 

5. Teamwork

Collaboration and openness to others' opinions and ideas are critical in the expanding diversity of modern business. Some individuals are really productive when they work alone. However, it is imperative to hire someone who can do both without becoming overly competitive.

Keep in mind that these skills can be learned and developed over time. Soft skills can be developed through the implementation of soft skills assessments and training

Consider your current employees. It is likely certain individuals are lacking in some areas and excelling in others. The same applies to your applicants. You may not find anyone who checks every single soft skill off the list, but at the end of this article, you will have a better idea of how to identify if there is potential for personal growth and soft skills development. 

Soft Skills Assessment

Soft skills identification and development

You may end up in a situation with a potential new hire where all the hard skills are there, and although they may not have been able to demonstrate all of the soft skills you need, you do see that the individual has the potential to learn and develop those skills. Or perhaps you have an existing employee that consistently misses the mark in certain areas - when it comes to empathizing with customers, for example. 

Soft skills training is an ongoing process of developing as a professional - especially when working in a team environment or communicating with customers. It even permeates other areas of business, such as content marketing. Choosing effective content that your customers can feel connected to can't be done without the soft skills necessary to understand how to communicate and persuade people that they need what you have to offer. 

Developing soft skills can be a challenge, and choosing the right tools to support you is a vital step in helping your people to upskills. A learning management system, or LMS, is an ongoing curriculum that can be updated and changed as you go to train everyone on your team in a consistent and calculable manner. An LMS allows you to track your employees' improvement over time and can also reveal the areas where you may need to provide more development opportunities for your people. 

Many employers will put off soft skills training until they are looking at promoting people into a leadership role, but this may be too late. Through skills assessments, observations, and ongoing training through a learning management system, you can discover strengths in employees that you may not have realized were there. 

Assessing soft skills during the interview process

The interview process gives you a great chance to get to know a little bit more about a candidate's experience and how they could impact your company. However, it can be hard to tell if someone is forthcoming or they are only telling you what you want to hear. 

Soft Skills Assessment

Additionally, people often have different levels of ability when it comes to soft skills, depending on their background. One way to begin the recruiting process with a focus on soft skills is to trim down your hard skills requirements in order to have a wider variety of applicants who have an equally diverse skill set to offer. 

With hard skills, it is a little more simple to determine whether or not someone has what it takes to fulfill the position, but soft skills are more difficult to quantify. 

So how can you properly assess whether or not someone has soft skills? 

Pay close attention to their job skills assessment

Always include a skills assessment test as part of the application process. An assessment that asks a series of questions to identify a person's strengths and weaknesses in the workplace will give you unparalleled insight into their interactions with clients as well as how they are able to handle stressful situations. 

Recruiters will frequently look at the scores alone without taking a closer look at how they answered particular sets of questions. Taking a deeper look at how they chose to answer questions on a soft skills assessment test can give great insight into the nature of the individual. 

Have an in-depth conversation about their resume

An applicant will list a series of both hard skills and soft skills that they can bring to the table on their resume. While it has been found that a majority of job candidates stretch the truth on their resumes, this still provides you with a good starting point to begin asking questions and digging a little deeper into their interpersonal skills. 

Ask questions about how those particular skills have helped them in past job situations and pause to give them plenty of time to say their piece. Following this step alone, you will most likely be able to weed out applicants who are not being completely honest. Take notes and check back to make sure there are no inconsistencies throughout their interview process. 

Some questions you to ask include:

  1. Have you experienced a time when you and a colleague miscommunicated? How did you respond? How would you have responded if you could do it over again?
  2. Tell me about a time a new system was implemented or a new methodology was introduced to you by upper-level management. What was your reaction? How did you overcome the changes?
  3. When working in a group, how have you handled situations where team members have expressed a different point of view? How do you communicate when you would like to try doing something different from what your colleagues would like?
  4. Talk about a time when you felt overwhelmed with your workload. What were the factors that contributed to your stress? How did you overcome those issues?
  5. Have you ever been put in a position where another coworker was doing something that did not sit right with you? How did you respond?

Soft Skills Assessment

Rely on references

When you verify references, take the opportunity to ask their past employers and coworkers about the soft skills that they demonstrated in their previous positions. Anyone can fake it and tell you what you want to hear for a few hours at a time, but you can't fake soft skills on a long-term basis. 

It's okay if they have areas to improve on, as soft skills can be developed over time. What's more important is that you are still checking for consistency in the applicant's performance. This will tell you whether or not they are capable of improving or if they are stuck in their ways. 

Soft Skills Assessment

Soft skills assessment: Central to finding the right candidates to join your team

Developing soft skills and identifying these strengths and weaknesses during the interview process is critical to finding the right employees that fit in well with your team and can help you take your company to the next level. If you're ready to invest in the value of soft skills development, you can create an account with GoSkills. 

You can choose between several individual Soft Skills courses for personalized development or implement a comprehensive training program with GoSkills LMS.

A better way to train

It's easier than ever to track and manage your team's training with the GoSkills LMS.

Try for free
Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies is from Brooklyn, New York. Since 2015, she has worked with enterprise clients around the world developing RegTech protocols and best practices. She shares her insights at nahlawrites.com.

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