From this article, you will learn what is meant by soft skills, why they are important, and how to determine if a candidate possesses the necessary soft skills for a job vacancy.
Additionally, we provide a list of 100 questions to quickly assess the presence and level of soft skills, helping you identify and hire the optimal candidate for any position.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are intangible personal skills of a candidate, such as communication, teamwork, time management, creativity, and so on. The presence of these skills is extremely important to ensure effective collaboration among team members and productive work for achieving business goals.
In contrast to hard skills (technical skills), the level of mastery of soft skills is difficult to measure, making them challenging to identify during the candidate selection process. Although questions for identifying soft skills typically do not imply answers of “right” or “wrong,” asking them during interactions with candidates is crucial. This will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s thought processes, motivation, their attitude toward the team, and the driving forces behind their actions.
- Teamwork (Collaboration)
- Time Management
- Cloud Hosting Skills (Cloud Computing) – AWS, GCP, Azure, DigitalOcean, RackSpace
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Algorithm Skills (AI & ML)
- Decision-Making for Problem Solving
- Team Management and Leadership
- UX Design
LinkedIn has compiled a list of the most in-demand soft skills and hard skills in 2023. The list includes only cities with over 100,000 LinkedIn users.
Why are soft skills so important?
The best companies are built by people who possess not only strong technical skills but also robust soft skills, such as effective communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities.
A recent study published on the reputable American resource CareerBuilder showed that 93% of employees consider soft skills to be equally or even more important than the technical skills of their colleagues. The process of reorganizing businesses to build powerful, motivated, and efficient teams well-versed in soft skills was identified as the main trend in 2016, according to Deloitte research.
How to assess a candidate’s soft skills?
The most common way to assess a candidate’s soft skills is during the interview process. However, traditional interviews can be very ineffective to the point that Harvard Business Review suggests conducting quick tests to evaluate soft skills before conducting any interviews. With this approach, you can immediately identify candidates with the best soft skills, even before assessing their technical skills, and do so completely cost-free, based on clear statistics.
Top 100 Questions for Soft Skills Assessment
To help you determine whether a particular candidate possesses the necessary soft skills for the job, we provide a list of 100 questions for soft skills assessment, categorized by topics. You can use these questions during interviews with candidates or, even better, in the initial screening process.
- Explain the concept of gravity to a 6-year-old.
- Explain to your 80-year-old grandmother how you make a living.
- Use up to 5 sentences to sell me your product.
- Your colleague publicly diminishes your work achievements. How would you react?
- Do you prefer written or verbal communication?
- What’s more important to you and why: being a good listener or a good communicator?
- Do you prefer working in a team or working alone, and why?
- How important are team-building events for you?
- Tell me how you would handle a situation where the team is not working well due to interpersonal conflicts.
- Your team members all agree on the approach to a task, but you disagree. How would you react?
- What does team spirit mean to you, and how would you build it?
- How would you deal with a team member who is not carrying their weight?
- You know your manager is 100% wrong about something. What would you do?
- Team members are leaving one by one. What would you do?
- How do you feel about delegating tasks within a team?
- What do you expect from a manager?
- Your company is facing financial difficulties, and you need to reduce salary expenses. How would you decide whom to let go?
- What’s the most challenging change you’ve faced in your career?
- Do you like surprises?
- How do you adjust your schedule when something unplanned happens?
- Give me an example of when you had to deal with a voluntary resignation without notice.
- Do you enjoy routine work?
- Provide an example of a situation where you successfully solved a problem.
- Give an example of when you had to employ creativity or non-standard approaches to solve a problem.
- Share an instance where you had to analyze information to solve a problem successfully.
- Describe a situation where you identified and resolved a problem at an early stage.
- Explain how you would handle a problem during a crisis.
- If your life were a book, what would it be called?
- How would you spice up meetings to boost creativity?
- Provide an example of how a business should be creative to succeed.
- How do you encourage your team to be more creative and innovative?
Interpersonal Communication Skills
- What are the key components of building good relationships with colleagues?
- How do you handle situations with tension between you and a colleague?
- Describe how you would convey complex or specific information to someone.
- Tell me about a time when you formed a good relationship with someone you didn’t like.
- Do you possess multitasking skills?
- Which statement better describes you: “Done is better than perfect” or “Everything must look perfect”?
- How do you prioritize your work when there are multiple approaching deadlines?
- Tell me about a time when you had to fight to meet deadlines. What did you do?
- Your manager assigns a big task just before the end of the day. How would you respond?
- Are you willing to work overtime?
- What’s the most important workplace ethic for you?
- Provide an example of when you faced an ethical dilemma at work.
- What would you do if you discovered your manager was violating company rules?
- You finish your work earlier than expected. Would you take a day off or ask for more tasks?
Customer Relations Skills
- Give an example of how you handled an unsatisfied customer.
- How do you go about building trust with a customer?
- Provide an example of when you went the extra mile to ensure excellent customer service.
- How would you deal with a customer who you believe is being difficult?
Motivation and Enthusiasm
- How do you stay motivated when working independently on a project?
- How do you maintain enthusiasm while working on a project that doesn’t interest you?
- How do you boost your spirits on those days when you’d rather not be at work?
- How do you help colleagues who are lacking enthusiasm?
- Among career growth, benefits and bonuses, salary, and a good team, which aspect is most important to you at work?
- What do you hope to achieve within your first six months at our company?
- Provide an example of when your planning led to effective results.
- How do you stay organized when working on multiple projects?
- How do you track your progress when working on projects?
- How often do you clean up your desk, files, and email to remove what you no longer need?
- Describe a complex negotiation situation you were in. What was the outcome?
- How would you change the standard “we’ve always done it this way” approach if you felt a new approach was better?
- How would you negotiate something with a manager or leader?
- What’s your most effective persuasion technique during negotiations?
- How do you understand strategic planning, and how does it differ from day-to-day planning?
- Describe how you planned and executed a major project. What were the results?
- How do you set long-term goals for your team, and how do you assess performance?
- Explain what constructive criticism means to you.
- Your team leader tells you that your work was subpar. How would you respond?
- Provide an example of when you used feedback to improve your work.
- How do you prefer to receive feedback from your manager: through formal performance reviews or daily/weekly/monthly meetings? Why?
- Provide an example of when you successfully resolved a conflict in a professional situation.
- How do you deal with disagreements in the workplace?
- What steps would you take to resolve a serious conflict that has arisen between two members of your team?
- How would you calm a colleague down if you saw their anger might cause problems?
- What methods do you use to cope with stress?
- Describe your most stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
- What good techniques do you use to prevent stress?
- What work situations cause you the most stress?
- Provide an example of when you had to make a decision under pressure. How did you handle it?
- Do you enjoy being responsible for making decisions, or would you prefer to delegate that responsibility?
- What’s the most challenging decision you’ve had to make at work? What did you decide?
- What do you do if you realize you’ve made a bad or wrong decision?
- What do you consider the most difficult decisions?
- Your project has failed miserably. How do you cope with it?
- Have you ever done something at work based on self-belief, even when your colleagues or superiors advised against it?
- What do you do to boost your self-confidence in situations where it’s lacking?
- How do you avoid the danger of becoming overly self-confident?
- Describe the type of work environment where you are most productive.
- What would make you quit a job in the first month?
- Have you ever found your company’s policies to be unfair or ineffective? If yes, what was the policy and why? What did you do or would you do in such a situation?
- Have you ever felt that you’re not a good fit for the job you were assigned?
- What would you do if a colleague confessed to a serious wrongdoing to you?
- Provide an example of a work situation where you felt that honesty might be a problem.
- Have you ever been honest even if it caused you problems? What came out of it?
- Describe a time when you had to solve a problem, but you didn’t have all the necessary information. How did you approach it?
- How do you weigh pros and cons before making a decision?
- How do you prepare for a presentation?
- What would you do if you noticed your audience was getting bored during a meeting?
- Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news to your team.
- When is it appropriate for speakers to use humor?
Evaluating candidates’ soft skills is as important as assessing their technical skills. Even though questions for assessing soft skills often do not have a “right” or “wrong” answer, it is advisable to include some of these questions in the preliminary screening test. This will immediately provide the best overview of a candidate’s psychological profile before conducting interviews or reviewing resumes.
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