The 4 Soft Skills That Make or Break if a Candidate Makes the Cut

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The ideal candidate has a multitude of great qualities. They may be a whiz at crunching numbers and formulas in excel or amazing at acquiring brand partnerships. A lot of the skills that a quality candidate has may not be technical. Soft skills are attributes that include how a candidate interacts with colleagues, manages projects, and solves problems. Soft skills are transferred and applied to countless positions and show how malleable a candidate can be for your company.  Here are 4 soft skills that can make or break a candidate.

1. Communication/Interpersonal Skills

Communication can be verbal or written. With the abundance in remote work, a lot of office correspondence is done via email. Whether or not an individual can convey an idea through written medium in a pleasant, yet direct tone is very important. It is very easy to misconstrue emails and it can cause tension in the office if the message is taken out of context. Verbal communication is important as well. Will this candidate communicate if they are overwhelmed with tasks and need an extension? Do they know how to establish communication with people they’re supervising so that their subordinates aren’t intimidated to come to them with problems? Ask them to give an example of a time they had to deliver some unfortunate news in the workplace to a supervisor or a subordinate and see if their answer lines up with how you’d like situations to be handled in your company environment. Interpersonal skills are important as well, if you have a marketing management candidate that is a stellar writer but is awkward when it comes to communicating in person, how do you think that will affect potential partnerships?  People skills is a very broad term, but the ability to establish rapport and build and maintain relationships could be pivotal depending on the role this candidate is seeking to fill.

2. Problem Solving Skills

Creativity in solving problems is essential. Does this candidate freeze when they are caught in the crossfire?  Are they able to think quickly and strategically on their feet? This is an important skill that comes with experience and exposure to different situations. Ask the candidate a scenario-based question.  This will put them on the spot, but it will also show you if they have good problem-solving skills, even if they don’t have the answer themselves, do they mention that they would seek someone out to assist them? This will give you an idea of their thought processes when it comes to conflict resolution in the office.

3. Adaptability

Things are constantly changing. Will this candidate go with the flow or will they resist? Are they able to adapt to changes in policy, to the work environment or will they oppose new ideas?  Pick their brain and ask them about a time something changed at work, whether it be a minor or drastic change, how they felt about it and what they did about those feelings. It is important to speak up if you feel something is a bad idea, but it is more important to be able to adapt if the company is going in a direction that isn’t preferred.  Issues amongst the team can arise if you have someone who isn’t necessarily flexible when it comes to new changes.

4. Time Management

Employees are compensated for the time that they spend producing work. Does this candidate drag tasks out or are they gainfully employed? Can this candidate manage their tasks to keep up with the office tempo?  Ask them questions about prioritization and organization to see how their time management process works.  Here is one that you can use, “If you have a deadline for a long-term project coming up and you have just received a request for a quick turn task with the same deadline, how would you handle this?”  If they’re unable to accomplish all the work on their own will they ask for assistance prior to the deadline?

Soft skills are important to have, they can make or break office morale, team productivity or the next partnership.  It is key to hire employees that have the soft skills you feel would best suit your organization needs. Through general questions and scenarios, you can gauge a candidate’s soft skills and make the final determination on whether or not they’d be an asset to hire.


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