Interviewing Techniques for Assessing Soft Skills: Evaluating Communication, Teamwork, and Adaptability

by | Published on Jul 4, 2023 | Digital Transcription, Interview Transcription

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Interviewing Techniques for Assessing Soft Skills

When hiring candidates for a particular role, employers look beyond technical skills. They look for soft skills — those interpersonal and personal attributes that define how we interact with others and navigate the complexities of the modern workplace. Assessing soft skills involve a combination of methods including everything from crafting strategic interview questions to observing non-verbal cues. Employers rely on transcripts of the sessions to assess these interactions. An interview transcription company can provide accurate written record of the conversation for the evaluation and comparison of the candidates.

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Why Assessing Soft Skills is Important in the Hiring Process

Soft skills refer to a person’s attributes that enable them to work well with others, communicate effectively, and adapt to different situations. An employee who has strong technical skills but lacks soft skills such as dependability, time management and critical thinking cannot perform well in their job. According to LinkedIn’ s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 89 percent of recruiters say when a hire doesn’ t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills (

Assessing soft skills play an important role in assessing the skill set necessary for communication, job performance, teamwork and adaptability. An employee with impressive technical skills will not necessarily be successful in their work unless they also have skills that enable them to work well in a team. In fact, a study by Harvard University found that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, while only 15% comes from technical skills and knowledge. By assessing soft skills during the hiring process, employers can ensure they are selecting candidates who not only have the necessary technical expertise but also possess the interpersonal skills required to thrive in a collaborative work environment.

When evaluating soft skills, it is crucial to take into account the particular attributes that are most applicable to the position and the organizational culture. While certain soft skills are highly regarded by employers, frequently sought-after qualities include:

  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Leadership potential
  • Relationship building
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Learning and strategic thinking
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving capabilities
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence

By identifying the soft skills that hold the greatest significance for a specific role, employers can customize their interview process to assess these qualities effectively in candidates.

Choosing candidates with soft skills such as empathy, cultural sensitivity, and inclusivity also helps organizations build a diverse and inclusive workforce. Evaluating these attributes throughout the interview process enables employers to choose candidates who not only possess the necessary technical skills but also have a mindset and attitudes that align with their organizational values. This ensures that the selected individuals contribute positively to fostering an inclusive workplace where individuals from different backgrounds can thrive.

So, how can employers screen candidates for these skills?

Screening Job Candidates for Soft Skills – Steps Involved

While soft skills are difficult to quantify, taking the right steps can help recruiters assess candidates for these intangible attributes:

  • Prepare for the interview: This involves defining the soft skills required for the position, reviewing the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and any other relevant documents to identify their soft skills, and creating a structured interview plan to specifically assess for the required soft skills.
  • Create behavioral-based interview questions: Behavioral-based interview questions require candidates to provide specific examples of how they used their soft skills in real-world situations. The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) method is an effective, structured approach which requires the candidate to provide specific examples from their past experiences. For example, consider asking a question like: “Tell me about a time when you had to work collaboratively with a diverse group of individuals to achieve a common goal. How did you navigate any challenges that arose during the process, and what was the outcome?”
  • A candidate’s responses to questions utilizing the STAR method provide valuable insights into their critical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills, task planning, time management, and decision-making aptitude. Moreover, it sheds light on their capacity for self-reflection, resilience, and professional growth through navigating workplace challenges, regardless of whether they have experienced successes or setbacks.

    Ask for specific questions based on the position you are interviewing for and assess their ability to handle challenges, work well with others, and achieve desired outcomes. Consider giving them a real situation at your firm that requires soft skills and asking them to explain how they would solve it.

  • Ensure a comfortable and welcoming environment: Creating a welcoming environment is important to make candidates relax feel comfortable to showcase their soft skills. Start the interview by building rapport and putting them at ease. Make a conscious effort to maintain eye contact and listen to them throughout the interview. Pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, as these can help you assess their level of confidence, enthusiasm, and interpersonal skills.
  • Evaluate soft skills based on overall performance. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when assessing candidates’ soft skills during the interview:
    • To ensure fairness and consistency, use the same criteria to assess each candidate’s responses
    • Assign a numerical score to each soft skill that is assessed
    • Record the interview and use a digital transcription service to create a written record. This will help you obtain key details when assessing the candidate’ s soft skills after the interview.
  • Conduct reference checks: Speak to the candidate’ s former colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates to gain insights on how the candidate has demonstrated soft skills in a professional setting. During the reference check, make sure to ask specific questions and verify information provided by the candidate.
  • Make the final decision: Make the final decision on candidate selection based on the assessment of their soft skills. Considerations to guide your decision should include the candidate’ s fit with job requirements and potential for growth within the organization. Evaluate how well the candidate’s soft skills align with the existing team dynamics and the organization’s values as described in its literature. “”Take a look at your company’ s value statements and think about your company’ s culture,” Di Ann Sanchez, SHRM-SCP, founder of DAS HR Consulting LLC in Hurst, Texas. “Those are your company’ s priorities when it comes to soft skills.” says Sanchez (

An interview transcription company can provide valuable assistance for evaluating candidate soft skills by providing a thorough, objective record of the interview process. This supports informed decision-making and allows for fair comparisons. Having a detailed record of interviews also provides a valuable resource for training and development within the organization.

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