The importance of hiring for soft skills

When picturing the ideal fit for your team, it’s easy to start by reeling off a list of technical skills they need to have to be successful.

Of course, roles will have specific criteria that are essential, particularly in tech-focused roles, however, if you limit your search to candidates that only meet these certain criteria, you’ll find yourself limiting your talent pool significantly.

With many teams working in a hybrid, more dispersed way, there’s a unique balance that needs to be maintained. Yes, you need someone who has all the right experience, knowledge and skills, but are they able to communicate effectively, empathise with others or think critically to deliver a solution?

So, when interviewing, it’s soft skills like these, and many others, that you should be looking out for…

According to the World Economic Forum, there are 10 soft skills that people will need in the fourth industrial revolution:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

It is imperative that, as a recruitment team, you understand that hiring for soft skills is critical for your company’s success and are able to identify them during the recruitment process.


Why you should hire for soft skills

It diversifies your candidate pool – by looking solely at the experience and required skill set, you’ll often overlook characteristics that will keep your company forward-thinking and relevant. Industries such as tech are fast-paced and ever-changing, so looking for candidates who are quick to learn, can think critically and show curiosity can really benefit your business and keep it moving forward.

Additionally, opening your doors to a wider demographic of talent creates a more diverse team, both in terms of people and in their ways of thinking.

Greater creativity and critical thinking –
new ideas and fresh perspectives would not be possible without a creative workforce who can think differently and find the solutions to problems in new ways.

As AI and automation become more commonplace across businesses, having a team that can demonstrate these skills will be increasingly needed to complement the capabilities of machines.


Increased productivity and retention – building a team of people able to communicate effectively, delegate and work collaboratively will undoubtedly be more successful than those that don’t.

With more businesses turning to remote or hybrid work options, the ability to work collaboratively is more important than ever. Building teams remotely can be a challenge to maintain culture and cohesion as you communicate predominantly through instant messenger and video calls. So, having people with these soft skills is imperative if you’re to keep teams working well as a group.

For businesses to create organic growth, having people in the business who can demonstrate effective teamwork and communication is vital.


So how do you switch to soft skills focused recruitment?

Changing the way you approach recruitment doesn’t have to be daunting. In-fact, there are a few small changes you can make to your hiring strategy to make sure you’re prioritising candidates’ soft skills.

Review your job descriptions – make sure soft skills are high on the priority list and their value to the team and business is clear.

Focus on identifying them in your interviews – structure your interviews in a way that delves into their soft skill set. Standardised and behaviour-based questions are an effective way to identify soft skills, particularly for roles that are typically focused on experience, knowledge and technical skills

Use screening tools – with a larger talent pool, comes more applications. Pre-assessment tools will identify the correct skills at the top of the recruitment funnel and ensure you make more accurate hires.


The importance of hiring for soft skills now

Teams that contain people with strong soft skills allow companies to use their technical skills and knowledge effectively, without being hampered by poor collaboration, communication breakdowns or leadership.

Look beyond these hard skills, incorporating hiring for soft skills into your recruitment strategies, and you’ll no doubt unearth candidates who get the best out of themselves and the team around them.