7 Soft Skills Interview Questions Recruiters Should Ask

Don’t be fooled by the name; there’s nothing soft about ‘soft skills.’ If anything, soft skills are one the sturdiest, most reliable indicators that a candidate is the right choice for your organization. 

In contrast with ‘hard skills,’ which are technical job skills acquired through formal education or training programs, soft skills aren’t easy to learn or quantify. Nevertheless, they are just as important to an employee’s success as technical skills.

Examples of soft skills include adaptability, interpersonal communication, time management, stress management, and critical thinking. These are skills that enable employees to better leverage their technical skills, collaborate cross-functionally, and better contribute to the company as a whole.

For organizations, recruiting teams, and hiring managers, crucial to better recruiting in 2022 is placing a greater emphasis on finding candidates with exceptional soft skills. But how do you evaluate something that can’t easily be quantified?

Why Soft Skills Are Important

A study by the Standford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation found that soft skills are a much stronger predictor of long-term job success than technical skills. In fact, research suggests that as much as 75% of job success is attributable to candidates having well-developed soft skills.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that more businesses are shifting their recruitment strategies to focus on hiring for soft skills over technical acknowledge. After all, technical skills can easily be taught, but if a candidate isn’t a good fit for your company, there’s not much that can be done to fix that.

7 Soft Skills Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

If it’s not already, identifying candidates with exceptional soft skills should definitely be an item on your hiring process checklist. How do you do that? Often, the only real way is to get to know your candidates as much as possible. And when is the best time to do that? During the interview process. 

To help you streamline the process even more, we’ve put together this helpful list of popular soft skills interview questions, so you can zero in on applicants with the soft skills you’re company needs.

Hiring managers interviewing a potential job candidate

#1: “Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to persuade someone who was resistant to an idea?”

This question will help you evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal communication skills and how committed they are to achieving their goals even when obstacles stand in their way. Pay attention to how they responded to this challenge and how they were able to ultimately resolve it.

#2: “How do you cope with stress when you have multiple project deadlines approaching?”

In addition to revealing how a candidate manages their stress, this question can also illuminate how good they are at multi-tasking and how they approach time management.

#3: “Has there ever been a time when results didn’t live up to expectations? If so, what did you do?”

Things don’t always go as planned in business, so finding out how a candidate deals with unexpected problems or even outright failure is important. How quickly did they bounce back? How adaptable were they in this situation? Were they able to turn things around? If so, that indicates flexibility, ingenuity, and persistence, all of which are very valuable soft skills.

#4: “How would you explain a complex topic to someone who is unfamiliar with the subject matter?”

This is another question that helps to evaluate a candidate’s communication abilities, but it can also offer a glimpse into their critical thinking skills. Ask the candidate to walk you through their process of breaking down a complex issue into simple, easy-to-understand bullet points.

#5: “Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake or missed a deadline?”

Employees are human beings and human beings are fallible. How someone responds to a bad decision or a missed deadline says a lot about how reliable they are when times are tough. It can also help you evaluate their ability to take responsibility for their actions.

#6: “Has there ever been a situation where you’ve had to make a tough decision without managerial supervision?”

Initiative and self-reliance are two of the most important soft skills any employee can have, and also two of the hardest to instill in someone who doesn’t already have them. This question will show you how a candidate responds when forced to act based on their own judgment.

#7: “Why are you leaving your current job and what could your employer do to retain you?”

This question might make some candidates feel slightly uncomfortable, which can itself be a good way of evaluating how they react when under pressure. More importantly, this question will not only communicate to you how well the candidate’s workplace values align with yours, but it will also give you insight into their critical thinking process.

Recruit Candidates with Exceptional Soft Skills Using Jobvite

Soft skills interview questions aren’t the only way of identifying the best possible candidates for your company. Jobvite’s Evolve Talent Acquisition Suite is designed to make recruitment easier than ever before, with an extensive range of capabilities to help you deliver recruiting results. 

To learn more about how Jobvite can help you find and hire the best candidates, watch our on-demand product tour. Or subscribe to the blog and resource library to stay up to date on the latest in talent acquisition technology.