How to Assess Soft Skills

A recent LinkedIn talent blog has some good tips on asking effective situational questions that will help you evaluate candidates’ soft skills.

Step 1: Ask the candidate to solve a problem using their hard skills

The first step to assessing a candidate’s soft skills might sound contradictory: ask them to demonstrate their hard skills.

John recommends creating a realistic challenge based on the kind of work the role requires. It should be achievable using the candidate’s relevant technical skills—not a baffling brain teaser that will never come up on the job—and it should have an open-ended solution.

“I think the kind of challenge you’d want to give them doesn’t just have one approach or solution,” John says. “It’s not like multiplication, where there is only one correct answer.”

Let’s say you’re hiring for a senior marketing role. You might ask your candidate to sketch out a 90-day plan for a new product launching in Germany, then watch them as they work.

“Say, here’s the set of assumptions you can start with,” John explains. “The candidate builds out the plan—this is maybe at the whiteboard, on a piece of paper, on a computer—and then they’re showing it to you and they are walking you through it.”

This shows you whether the candidate has some of the essential hard skills needed to do the job. You might be able to pick up on a few soft skills here, too—but it’s only once you add a few surprises into the mix that these really come into sharp focus.

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