This guide explains what soft skills are, why they matter and how to understand if the candidate has the soft skills needed for the job. We also provide 100 top soft skills assessment and interview questions that will help you identify and hire top talent.
You can jump right into the sub-paragraph by clicking on the links below:
- What are soft skills?
- Why soft skills matter?
- How to screen candidates’ soft skills?
- Top 100 soft skills assessment questions to ask your candidates:
- Interpersonal skills
- Time management
- Work ethics
- Customer service
- Motivation and enthusiasm
- Organizational skills
- Strategic planning
- Handling feedback
- Conflict resolution
- Handling stress
- Cultural fit
- Analytical skills
- Presentation skills
WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS?
Soft skills are the more transferable skills of a candidate, such as communication, decision-making, collaboration, teamwork, time management, creativity etc. They’re all very necessary for cultural fit and can be very good predictors of future job performance.
Unlike hard skills, soft skills are not so easy to quantify, which makes it a lot more difficult to screen for these skills. Although soft skills questions usually don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, it is still wise to ask a few of these questions at an early stage of the recruitment process, as well as later in an interview. This will help you get a better understanding of candidate’s way of thinking, attitude, motivation, and actions.
For instance, when hiring a remote employee, a good communication is a very important soft skill. If a regular contact on Slack or Skype is important to you, it is wise to have a chat with candidates early on in the hiring process. If they show reluctance or are evasive, it’s a good sign that they may not be a good fit for the remote role.
WHY SOFT SKILLS MATTER?
The best companies are built on strong soft skills as well as hard skills, with a workforce of strong communicators, leaders, and problem-solvers.
A recent study found that 93% of employees see soft skills equally important to technical skills, or even more important than them. Redesigning organizations around highly-empowered soft-skilled teams were rated the top trend in the 2016 Deloitte Human Capital Survey.
93 percent of employees see soft skills as either equally important to technical skills or more important than them.
The soft skills of your employees have a big impact on your performance as a company. Having a team of flexible, motivated, well-organized workers able to get on with each other will help raise productivity levels.
If your employees have good soft skills, they will work better as a team. It will also be easier to develop a strong and positive company culture and build a diverse workforce. This, in turn, will help lower staff turnover levels.
Furthermore, employees with transferable soft skills can be more easily deployed to new roles within the company – meaning you can get more out of your staff.
HOW TO SCREEN CANDIDATE’S SOFT SKILLS?
The most common way to screen a candidate’s soft skills is in the interview process. However, traditional interviews can be very ineffective – so much so that even studies from Harvard Business Review suggest making a quick skills assessment tests before conducting any interviews.
Asking all candidates to take a short skills assessment test before interviews or resume screenings is valuable because you’ll be empowered to zone in on the top candidates—completely bias-free and based on data.
For instance, if you’re using Toggl Hire skills-based recruiting software to pre-screen your candidates, you could include a few most important soft skills questions in your pre-qualification test. This will give you a better understanding of a candidate’s soft skills already before conducting any interviews.
TOP 100 SOFT SKILLS ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CANDIDATES
To help you figure out if your candidate has the soft skills required for the job, here’s a list of top 100 soft skills assessment questions, categorized by topics. You can use these questions when interviewing the candidates, or even better, in your pre-employment test.
- Tell me about yourself in 2 sentences.
- Explain to your 95-year old grandmother what you do for a living.
- Use up to 5 sentences to sell me a pencil.
- Your colleague is publicly belittling your work achievements. What do you do?
- Do you prefer written or verbal communication?
- Which one is more important to you and why: to be a good listener or a good communicator?
7. Which one do you prefer and why: teamwork or working alone?
8. How important are team events for you?
9. Tell me how you would overcome a situation where a team is doing badly because members aren’t getting along.
10. Your teammates are all in agreement on how to approach a task but you disagree. How do you react?
11. What does team spirit mean to you and how would you go about building it?
12. How would you deal with a teammate who wasn’t doing their share of work?
13. You know your manager is 100% wrong about something. What do you do?
14. Your team members are quitting one after another. What do you do?
15. How do you go about delegating responsibilities to a team?
16. What do you expect from a manager?
17. Your company is in financial difficulties and you have to cut down salary costs. How would you decide who to fire?
18. What is the most difficult change you’ve encountered in your career?
19. Do you like surprises?
20. How do you go about rearranging your schedule if something unplanned occurs?
21. Give me an example of when you’ve had to deal with a short notice request.
22. Do you like routine work?
23. Give me an example of when you’ve successfully solved a problem.
24. Give me an example of a time when you’ve had to be creative or unconventional in solving a problem.
25. Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information to successfully solve a problem.
26. Tell me about a time you identified a problem and solved it in its early stages.
27. Describe a time when you had to solve a problem in a crisis.
28. If your life was a book, what would it be called?
29. How would you spice up meetings to boost creativity?
30. Give me an example of a business being creative in order to be successful.
31. In what ways have you encouraged your work team to be more creative and innovative?
32. What are the key ingredients to building good relationships with others?
33. How do you deal with situations where there is tension between you and a colleague?
34. Describe how you would communicate difficult or unpopular information to someone?
35. Tell me about a time when you built a good relationship with someone you didn’t particularly like.
36. Do you multitask?
37. Which one better describes you: ‘done is better than perfect’ or ‘everything has to look perfect’?
38. How do you prioritize your work if you have a number of looming deadlines?
39. Tell me about a time when you’ve struggled to meet deadlines. What did you do?
40. Your manager assigns you a big task right before the end of the day. How would you reply?
41. Do you tend to work over-hours?
42. What are the most important ethics in the workplace?
43. Give me an example of when you faced an ethical dilemma at work.
44. What would you do if you discovered a manager was breaking company rules?
45. You get your work done sooner than expected. Do you allow yourself a free afternoon or are you going to ask for more tasks?
46. Give an example of how you have dealt with an unsatisfied customer.
47. What steps do you take to gain a customer’s trust?
48. Give an example of a time when you went the extra mile to give good customer service.
49. How would you deal with a customer who you felt was becoming unreasonable?
Motivation and enthusiasm
50. How do you stay motivated when working alone on a project?
51. How do you stay motivated when working on a project that doesn’t interest you?
52. How do you generate enthusiasm on days when you’d prefer not to be at work?
53. How do you deal with colleagues who are lacking in enthusiasm?
54. Which one of these is the most important aspect for you at work? Career development, perks, and benefits, salary, or nice coworkers?
55. What do you hope to achieve during your first six months here?
56. Give an example of when your planning led to effective results.
57. How do you stay organized when you are working on multiple projects?
58. How do you keep track of your progress when working on projects?
59. How often do you go to your desk, files and electronic files to clear out what you no longer need?
60. Describe a difficult negotiating situation you’ve been in. What was the outcome?
61. How would you change an institutional “this is how we always do it” attitude if you felt there was a better approach?
62. How would you go about negotiating something with a manager or supervisor?
63. What is the most effective technique for winning someone over when negotiating?
64. What is your understanding of strategic planning? How does it differ from everyday planning?
65. Tell me about a time when you planned and executed a large project. What were the outcomes?
66. How do you set long-term goals for your team? How do you evaluate performances?
67. Explain what constructive criticism means to you.
68. Your team lead tells you’ve done a poor job. How do you respond?
69. Give an example of a time when you used feedback to improve your performance.
70. How do you prefer to get feedback from your manager: through formal performance reviews or daily/weekly meetings? Why?
71. Give me an example of when you have successfully resolved a conflict in a professional situation.
72. How do you deal with differences of opinion in the workplace?
73. What steps would you take to resolve a heated conflict that broke out between two members of your team?
74. How would you go about calming a colleague down if you could see that their anger was likely to cause trouble?
75. What are your techniques for handling stress?
76. Tell me about your most stressful work situation. How did you deal with it?
77. What are good ways of preventing things from getting too stressful in the first place?
78. What work-situations get you most stressed?
79. Give an example of when you’ve had to make a decision under pressure. How did you deal with it?
80. Do you like the responsibility of decision-making or would you prefer to leave it to someone else?
81. What’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make at work? How did you decide?
82. What do you do if you realize you’ve made a bad or wrong decision?
83. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
84. Your project fails miserably. How do you deal with it?
85. Have you ever done something at work through believing in yourself, although your co-workers or bosses told you not to do it?
86. What do you do to increase your confidence in situations where it is lacking?
87. How do you prevent yourself from becoming over-confident?
88. Describe the type of work environment in which you are most productive.
89. What would make you quit a job in the first month?
90. Have you ever found a company policy unfair or inefficient? If so, what was the policy and why? What did you do or what would you do, in this case?
91. Have you ever felt like you are not qualified for a job assigned to you?
92. What would you do if a colleague confessed a serious misdemeanor to you?
93. Give an example of a work situation where you felt that it was best not to be honest.
94. Have you ever been honest even though it’s caused problems for you? What happened?
95. Describe a time when you had to solve a problem, but didn’t have all the necessary information about it in hand. What did you do?
96. How do you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision?
97. How do you prepare for delivering a presentation?
98. What would you do if you noticed that your audience looked bored during a meeting?
99. Describe a time when you had to announce bad news to your team.
100. When is it appropriate for speakers to use humor?
OVER TO YOU
Screening candidates’ soft skills is equally important than screening for technical, hard skills. Although soft skills assessment questions often don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, it is wise to include a few of these questions in your pre-screening test. This will immediately give a better overview of the candidate before conducting any interviews or doing any resume screening.
Want to set up your own pre-employment test? It takes only 3 steps to get started with Toggl Hire!
Read more: The Toggl Guide to Working from Home