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What skills should you take notice of and why are they important?

Are soft skills being placed on the back burner when you're assessing talent? In today's ever-evolving workplace where technology is automating jobs, our human skills are those that are increasingly becoming a priority.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What’s the most important skill you’re assessing when you’re interviewing talent?

Does a talent’s soft skill vs. hard skill and/or competencies to do a job hold the same level of importance for you?  I can probably guess that your answer would likely be no, although I’m sure you would agree it’s important just not as important as the hard skills to actually do the job.

In a world where artificial intelligence is creeping its way into many different industries and jobs, there will be forever the skills that AI simply will not be able to offer or do. That’s the human skills that we bring to the table, or otherwise known as soft skills.  Effective communication, compassion, empathy, passion, drive, etc. just to name a few. 

Why is this important and how does it effect you?  Well, if you’re a company that hires people, you want to focus on the FULL package a talent has to offer; meaning ALL skills are becoming increasingly important.  Not just their ability to perform a task and do a job.  It all matters.  In fact, LinkedIn‘s data as noted in their 50 Big Ideas in 2019:  What to watch in the year ahead article, suggests the fastest growing skills gap are related to soft skills.

If you’re someone who will likely be looking for a job at some point in your lifetime, your creative abilities and soft skills are what will set you apart.  They are the skills that can not be taken away from you and be automated.  The workplace is evolving, technology is constantly changing and skills and jobs are being automated.  As a job seeker, you want to understand how this affects you.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine, soft skills I find are typically more difficult to measure and assessing them can be tricky.  Simply reviewing a resume for key or ‘buzz’ words isn’t enough either.

For hiring managers and recruiters, here are some questions you can ask to help measure a few of the more common and important soft skills during interviews:

  • Communication skills – Tell me a time when your communication skills were imperative to a problem you solved?  How were they used and what was important about that? (here, you’re not just looking for oral or written. Communication also includes what’s not being said – body language. You want to go deeper here)
  • Adaptability & Flexibility – How have you dealt with change in your organization and what soft skills were critical to demonstrate during that time?
  • Collaboration – What are some examples you can share when you’ve had to work with others you don’t know and how did you approach the situation? 
  • Empathy – Share an example of a customer service issue with your company or make one up.  Ask what soft skills they would demonstrate in that situation

I would also add to these.  You can also ask a candidate to share a real-life work issue at their current company (if they’re employed), and what soft skills are needed to solve it.

There are all kinds of different questions you can come up with and likely add to these.  The ones above are those I have found helpful in my experience, but please feel free to play around with these.   Also, don’t be shy to ask directly, what soft skills they deem themselves to be strengths of their’s and how they would relate to the position at hand.  As simplistic and obvious as it may sound, it’s a good question to ask, as chances are, candidates aren’t commonly being asked about their soft skills.

What are your thoughts on the skills gap being related to soft skills?  

How important are soft skills when you’re assessing talent for your organization? 

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