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How to Conduct a Soft Skills Assessment in Your Recruiting Process

by | Mar 22, 2021 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

When you’re tasked with a job order, the pressure is on. On top of the technical qualifications needed for the job, you also want candidates to have soft skills. To gauge a candidate’s fit with your client’s company, conduct a soft skills assessment.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the non-technical skills needed to do a job. Individuals with soft skills can interact with others, come up with new ideas, and flourish in their environment.

Here are some popular soft skill attributes:

  • Good communication
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Teamwork
  • Initiative
  • Responsibility
  • Critical observation
  • Integrity

You need to find a way to quantify soft skills. That way, you can compare candidates and help your client pick the best one for their company. You can do this through soft skills assessments and ranking systems.

Soft skills vs. hard skills

Soft skills differ from hard skills, which are quantifiable skills individuals learn through classes, books, or on the job. For example, knowing how to use a computer, type, or speak another language are hard skills.

More than likely, an employee needs some hard skills to do their job. Soft skills are also important to effectively do a job and work well with others in the workplace.

Assessing soft skills

As a recruiter, you need to find candidates who have both hard and soft skills. Do a soft skills assessment to determine if a candidate will be a good fit for the position.

A soft skills assessment is when you check a candidate’s soft skills. There are a few different ways you and your client can assess a candidate’s soft skills.

Resumes, cover letters, and job applications

Job seekers list both hard and soft skills on their resumes, cover letters, and job applications.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find a list of soft skills on a candidate’s resume. For example, Candidate A says they are exemplary at “communicating and problem-solving.” Now you have two obvious soft skill claims from the candidate.

Candidates can talk about how they have used their soft skills in their cover letters. They can give examples of situations. You and your client can also require soft skills on the job application.

Don’t just rely on resumes, cover letters, and job applications to assess soft skills, though. One survey found that 56% of job candidates were caught lying on their resumes.

Use a candidate’s application materials as a basis for your soft skills assessment. Find out more about the candidate’s soft skills with the following methods.


As the recruiter, you might talk with candidates more than your client talks with them. Your client is busy and does not have time for pre-screening interviews, phone calls, or meetings with each possible candidate.

You can conduct screenings and candidates can ask you questions about the position. As a result, you have the opportunity to ask soft skills questions.

You can ask candidates to talk more about the soft skills they listed on their application materials. Or, you can ask them how they have used their soft skills in the past. Ask candidates how their soft skills could help them with the open position.

Make sure you take notes in your recruiting software whenever you talk to a candidate. You can compare their answers throughout the recruiting process for consistency.


During the interview, you and your client should assess each candidate’s soft skills. To do this, ask the candidate behavioral interview questions.

Behavioral interview questions ask candidates about past experiences. That way, you can get more of an understanding of their personalities. Behavioral interview questions also let you assess each candidate’s soft skills.

Here are some example questions you could ask to find out more about the candidate’s soft skills:

  • Communication: Can you tell me about a time when you and one of your co-workers miscommunicated? How did you handle the situation?
  • Adaptability: Tell me about a time you had to learn a completely new method or system for doing your work. How did you react?
  • Initiative: Tell me about a time there was a problem at work. What did you do to fix it?
  • Teamwork: Was there a time when there was an argument in the group? How did you handle it?
  • Responsibility: Can you tell me about a time when you fell behind in your workload? What did you do?
  • Integrity: Was there ever a time when you saw a co-worker do something wrong? What did you do?

You can find out more about a candidate’s soft skills when you ask them to talk about their past experiences.

Job-fit tests

A job-fit test helps you and your client determine whether a candidate would fit in well with the company. You distribute the test to candidates.

The test asks candidates to talk about their personal preferences. These might include questions about the work environment and working with others.

You can use the job-fit test as a soft skills assessment. You can also modify the job-fit test so it is a soft skills questionnaire. It helps you understand more about each candidate and see if their soft skills match your client’s needs.

Reference checks

Another great way to assess a candidate’s soft skills is to conduct reference checks. With a reference check, you can contact the candidate’s previous employers and colleagues.

Ask each candidate’s previous or current employer about their soft skills. Verify that what the candidate told you throughout the recruiting and hiring process is true. See how the candidate’s soft skills affected their job performance, and find out if there are any soft skills the candidate could work on.

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