Soft skills are important. In fact, 89% of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills. For that reason, when hiring your next superstar, you need to prioritize your soft skills assessment.
In this article, we will look at all things soft skills. After we’ve confirmed precisely what they are, which are the most important, and why they’re so hard to assess, we’ll show you how to master a soft skills assessment with Toggl Hire.
- What is a Soft Skill? Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills vs. Personality Traits
- The Challenges of a Soft Skills Assessment
- 7 Soft Skills & Personality Traits Employers Should Test
- How To Assess Soft Skills – Tests, Interviews & Exercises
- Turbocharge Your Recruitment with Toggl Hire’s Soft Skills Assessments
What is a Soft Skill? Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills vs. Personality Traits
It’s easy to confuse soft skills, hard skills, and personality traits when assessing candidates. While there can be some overlap, all three are uniquely important when identifying an all-around great hire.
Let’s look at each, in turn, starting with soft skills.
Soft skills refer to someone’s interpersonal characteristics. Often referred to as ‘people skills’, they are qualities individuals need to work, lead, and interact with others.
While soft skills can definitely be developed, in many instances, candidates naturally have an inherent level of soft skill ability showcasing themselves as great people to work with.
Examples of soft skills include:
- Critical thinking
- Persuasion & Influence
Hard skills refer to learned competencies in an area/field and are developed on the way to being competent in a particular role.
Because of this level of objective competence, hard skills are much easier to train, measure, and assess when compared to soft skills.
Examples of hard skills include:
- Video editing
- Graphic design
- Foreign language skills
- Microsoft Word/Powerpoint/Excel
Personality traits are the component parts of an individual’s character. These traits come together to form part of an individual’s personality and mostly stay the same throughout an individual’s life.
When it comes to assessing candidates, depending on your sector, organization, and individual role, you’ll likely have a good idea of the ‘type’ of person you’re looking for.
Examples of personality traits include:
Comparison Table – Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills vs. Personality Traits
|What Are They?||Examples|
|Soft Skills||Interpersonal skills used to lead, manage, |
and work with other people.
Persuasion & Influence
|Hard Skills||Learned competencies in an area/field.||Copywriting|
|Personality Traits||The parts of an individual’s character.||Honesty|
The Challenges of a Soft Skills Assessment
Unfortunately, assessing soft skills isn’t always straightforward. Unlike hard skills, where it’s easy to judge competency, a soft skills assessment can be left to interpretation.
Here are some of the key challenges businesses face when assessing soft skills:
- Showcasing Competency. Given that soft skills aren’t as clear-cut as hard skills, you need to get candidates into a situation to showcase their abilities. During the traditional interview process, that’s quite hard. Especially with resumes, candidates can’t exhibit skills such as verbal communication and leadership, leaving hiring managers guessing.
- Bias. Whether we like it or not, we all hold unconscious bias. Soft skills are subjective, so what one person thinks is great, another may think is rubbish. It’s hard to overcome this in settings such as interviews, so additional measures need to be put in place.
- Lack of Knowledge. Many people believe soft skills are something you either have or don’t have. Because of that lack of knowledge, many hiring managers don’t know how to assess them and may progress candidates that simply aren’t up to scratch.
7 Soft Skills & Personality Traits Employers Should Test
When looking for the right candidate, you’ll know the right mix of skills you need to get the job done. But of course, for many roles, the critical soft skills and personality traits are pretty generic.
Here are the top 7 of each we suggest you test for:
- Communication – In an ever-connected world, the ability to communicate well has never been more important. Test that your candidates can communicate both in written and verbal formats when running your recruitment.
- Leadership & Management – Especially for those in senior positions, managing others and leading by example is essential. Make sure your candidates have the ability to do both.
- Problem-Solving – Being a superstar employee is all about handling the problems thrown at you to find the best solution. Make sure your candidates are expert problem solvers who can think outside the box.
- Time Management – Everyone’s always busy. The best employees are the ones who can manage their time by prioritizing the tasks that really matter to deliver what their business needs.
- Teamwork – No individual can do everything on their own, so they must work well within a team. Whether as a team member, a leader, or a manager, make sure your candidates work well with others and aren’t afraid to get stuck in!
- Negotiation – Especially good for customer-facing roles, the ability to understand the objectives of both parties and come to a reasonable solution is essential for long-term success.
- Remote Working – What was once a hard skill is now a soft skill. Make sure that your next super-star employee tailors all of their other soft skills to stay productive and effective in a remote world!
If you’d like to get more in-depth with soft skills, we’d recommend checking our guide of 100 Soft Skills to Test.
- Honesty – You want to build a team of honest individuals to add integrity, class, and courage to your team. Look for those who are open to admitting mistakes and call out things they believe are wrong.
- Adaptability – The business world changes daily, so make sure your new employee can keep up. Those who can adapt quickly help you stay competitive within your market.
- Resilience – Like adaptability, when things constantly change, you need someone who can roll with the punches. Resilience is key to a strong business, so look for those who react positively to setbacks.
- Confidence – Confidence breeds confidence, so look for individuals who are sure of themselves. This helps you and your team perform well and reduces their reliance on other people.
- Empathy – Whether it’s working in a team or facing out to customers, the employees who build the best relationships can empathize with others. Look for candidates who can see the world through other people’s eyes.
- Drive – Every business wants people who are self-starters and don’t need managers to get them going. Those with good drive push themselves to do well and often exceed what’s expected of them to deliver amazing results.
- Loyalty – As employers, leaders, or managers, we all want people in our business that are loyal to the cause. Look for individuals who are sincere and show they’re long-term team players when it comes to hiring.
How To Assess Soft Skills – Tests, Interviews & Role Play
Now that you know the critical soft skills to look for, how can you actually execute a reliable soft skills assessment?
Here are three of the best ways to get real insights into a candidate’s soft skills:
Running Soft Skills Assessment Tests
One of the best ways to uncover a candidate’s soft skills early in the recruitment process is to use skills tests.
Skills tests can be configured to test for any number of competencies, including common soft skills such as communication, time-management, and problem-solving.
For the candidate, skills tests are fun and engaging to complete and can be completed at a time that suits them. For recruiters, they give you a real insight into how an individual operates while allowing you to test multiple candidates at once to save time.
More on how we do soft skills assessment tests at Toggl Hire later on!
Interviews are an excellent opportunity to test a candidate’s people skills as it’s often the first time you’ll get face-to-face. Here skills such as verbal communication, time-management, and remote-working are entirely on show.
It’s worth remembering, though, that interviews are very artificial situations that only give you insight into certain soft skills. They shouldn’t be used in isolation, but they definitely give hiring managers a good insight!
One of the best ways to assess a candidate’s soft skills is to try and simulate real-life scenarios. Two of the most common ways to do this is through role-playing or group exercises, where candidates work with others to achieve an objective.
Given the time investment required, recruiters run these tasks as part of assessment centers, such as graduate assessment centers, or at later stages of the recruitment process when they’re already pretty sure of a candidate’s chances of success.
Summary – Turbocharge Your Recruitment with Toggl Hire’s Soft Skills Assessments
Soft skills are some of the most important and effective attributes an individual can possess. Because of this, when it comes to hiring, you want to do everything possible to maximize your soft skills assessment.
At Toggl Hire, we’re experts at helping you test candidates for the skills that really matter. That extends to soft skills, too, with our expert-created questions library packed full of soft skills questions, alongside a range of ready-made soft skills tests.
So, whether you’re looking to test for communication, problem-solving, teamwork, or many other soft skills, take a look at how we do it below with Toggl Hire!
James Elliott is a Strategy Manager and Writer from London, UK. When not working on the day job, James writes on a variety of business and project management topics with a focus on content that enables readers to take action and improve their ways of working. You can check out James’ work on his website or by connecting on LinkedIn.