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Posted 09/15/2016

Tips On Interviewing a Candidate for Soft Skills

As any hiring manager knows, a cover letter and a resume display only the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath is concealed; yet, as an employer, it is what you’re banking on to substantiate the glimmer of the surface . . . and that includes soft skills. To summarize, 10 soft skills candidates may possess are:
  • Excellence in communication skills
  • Collaborates with a team
  • Agility in learning and problem-solving
  • Shows initiative (with maturity)
  • Curious but intellectually humble
  • Mentoring/coaching talent and leadership
  • Logical process and critical thinking
  • Influencing and motivating
  • Prioritization and time management
  • Strong work ethic
Behavioral questions reveal insights into those elusive soft skills, and they can be divided into categories (based on the soft skills listed above, or others) to help you during the interview. Question: Can you describe a time when you worked as part of a group?

Red Flag: The candidate describes himself as the hero, as smarter than others, or if he succeeds but team fails.

Thumbs down: Besides poorly preparing for the interview, the candidate speaks negatively about others and indicates low self-awareness and self-esteem.

Thumbs up: The best solution is when the candidate frames the story to show merits of others as well as indicating the positive role that he/she played in determining the solution to help the team move ahead.

Question: Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?

Red Flag: The candidate admits mistakes occurred but blames them on others.

Thumbs down: Obviously, the candidate’s integrity is questionable as are other skills. Trust is a big consideration as is the ability to learn from mistakes and not repeat them.

Thumbs up: The candidate admits to correcting those mistakes he/she can before they become larger, but readily takes accountability. He/she also discusses how amendments were/are being made.

Question: Can you tell me about a time when you had to ask for help?

Red flag: No one is perfect and pretending to be so does not make a good impression. Besides self-awareness, this person could be a dangerous hire as deception may be part of his practices.

Thumbs down: This question asks about the candidate’s weaknesses. It is a good sign if the candidate admits reaching out to someone.

Thumbs up: Kudos for the candidate admitting to learning from another, or better yet, asking a supervisor about the proper way to handle the obstacle.

Need practice interviewing so you can spot a candidate’s intangible traits? It helps to think about the variety of people you know and how well you know them. Then, note their less shining characteristics and how you determined those opinions. It’s likely that you will come up with some pointed questions from your experiences. MPS Technical can help For more than two decades, MPS Technical has served the Minnesota and Wisconsin regions’ precision manufacturing staffing needs. We are experts in vetting skills and traits, so those candidates we suggest to you not only are the best fit for your business but also are more likely to stay. We assist with a smooth onboarding process as well. We are glad to provide assistance with questions you may have at any level of the hiring process. Contact us today.