December 15, 2019 TruPath

Recruiting Tips: Assessing Soft Skills

As we approach the new year, it’s important to reflect upon the past year. According to a LinkedIn report from January, 91% of surveyed talent professionals believed soft skills were important for hiring and the future. In that same survey 92% said soft skills were as or more important than hard skills. The challenge is that soft skills can be very difficult to asses. Here are just a few of TruPath’s strategies for assessing soft skills.

1. Consider every interaction a part of the interview.

Recruiters will have many interactions with candidates before they even get to the interview stage. There will be an initial outreach for passive candidates and an application for active candidates, the screening process of providing more information and asking questions from both the candidate and the recruiter, possible secondary questions coming from the client or hiring manager, attempts to coordinate schedules, and possible changes in the hiring process as the client adjusts to real-time needs.

These interactions are just as important as the interview. Based on your interactions, would you want to work with that candidate daily?

2. Assess for flexibility in communication.

To follow-up on the first tip, it is also important to recognize that not everybody communicates the same way you do, so don’t forget that you’re screening for your client. Additionally, many companies are recognizing the benefits of collaboration, so it is highly likely they will be working with other employees, vendors, or customers with different priorities and expertise.

When you are interviewing candidates ask for them to structure an answer in a way they wouldn’t normally. Ask a technical candidate to explain a process in layman’s terms, ask a talkative candidate to provide a summary of one of their projects in three sentences, and don’t be afraid to push for more details after a very brief answer.

3. Use multiple methods of communication.

Hiring processes differ, and for recruiters phone calls can be an efficient use of time. However, this doesn’t assess writing skills. Cover letters are one way to assess writing, but they are prepared and structured and most communications are not. Try to get more information from the candidate via email, so you can see how they write. For example, ask one follow-up question regarding screening where the response has to be more than transnational.

4. Consider strengths a weaknesses in new perspective.

Rather than simply asking a candidate for their strengths and weaknesses, ask something like, “What is something you didn’t start out knowing in your last role, and how did you learn it?” Getting a glimpse into how a candidate learns on the job may help assess soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and taking initiative.

A good answer might sound similar to,”I found the resources to train myself,” or “I took the initiative to shadow an expert, so I wouldn’t impact productivity.” As a recruiter, note that you need to use critical thinking too. In some cases, “I had to wait for the trainer,” is a completely appropriate response and in other cases it shows a lack of soft skills, so make sure you understand the candidate’s job.

TruPath specializes in finding culturally aligned talent. Assessing soft skills was a key focus on 2019 and continues to be a key focus as we head into 2020.


As a trusted recruitment source since 2002, the recruiters at TruPath have a customizable process that helps partners (clients) feel comfortable in their search for top talent. Contact a TruPath team member today to tell us about your hiring needs.