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How to Hire for Soft Skills


Hiring for hard skills is relatively simple. A candidate either proves they have the ability at hand or not — it’s a pretty cut and dry process. However, things aren’t so straightforward when hiring for soft skills.

You can’t just ask a candidate if they’re an effective communicator or have the capacity to display empathy toward colleagues. Uncovering these skills requires a little creative thinking and some digging, but if you’re willing to put in the time, you’ll get the answers you need.

Carefully Observe the Candidate’s Mannerisms

You can actually learn a lot about a candidate by what they don’t say. For example, if you change the time or place of the interview at the last minute and they don’t flinch, they’re probably pretty adaptable. Additionally, careful observation of their body language can clue you in on their ability to communicate effectively.

Many interviewers make the mistake of focusing solely on the candidate’s words, but as you can see, there’s a lot to learn from nonverbal cues. Pay close attention to these signals, because they reveal a raw truth that can help you make the right hiring decision.

Ask Behavioral Interview Questions

Peppering a candidate with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ interview questions might help you gauge their hard skills, but this technique won’t get you very far with soft skills. Instead, you need to ask behavioral interview questions that focus on their personality. For example, a question like “How do you manage multiple competing priorities?” will clue you in on their time management skills.

Conduct a Thorough Background Check

Speaking with professional references should be an essential step in every hiring process. When possible, request a variety of people — i.e., former managers, colleagues, and clients — to get a well-rounded look at what they’re really like to work with. Some people are very good at hiding their true self in the interview process, so this allows you to see beyond the well-rehearsed facade.

Hiring right isn’t easy, so let the experts at MAC Incorporated do the heavy lifting. Contact us today to find the best engineering, maintenance, or operations management professional for the job.

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