Sep 14th 2019


Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, according to Deloitte.

The rise of automation and artificial intelligence will result in a larger reliance on soft skills; tasks that require technical skills are being increasingly replaced by technology and giving way to soft skills becoming a key differentiator. Employers are increasingly seeing candidates failing at roles largely due to a lack of the right soft skills for the job. As a result, employers are placing more focus on them, but with them proving difficult to quantify, employers need to innovate their hiring processes to ensure they find the most suitable people for the role and the business.

The term ‘soft skills’ refer to a collection of personal attributes and competencies that include:

  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Acting as a team player
  • Creativity
  • Leadership and motivation

Of course, hard and technical skills are critical to being successful in a role. But soft skills allow candidates to stand out and excel in the workplace and drive business success. Hard skills may get you a job but soft skills are key to maintaining a job. According to Leadership IQ, almost half of new hires fail within 18 months, with the main reason for this being a lack of the necessary soft skills for the job.

  • 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback
  • 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions
  • 17% lack the necessary motivation to excel
  • 15% have the wrong temperament for the job
  • 11% lack the necessary technical skills

In fact, 85% of job success comes from having well developed soft and people skills. Having to continually replace employees is not only costly; replacing a bad hire six months into the job will still cost two and a half times the person’s salary but also places a huge strain on internal resources and staff morale.

How to assess soft skills

Hiring managers need to place a focus on the soft skills of candidate’s when making new hires. However, a quarter of entry-level employers state they find it hard to find candidates with these right skills. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are harder to quantify. Increasingly employers are integrating tools and technology to help assess a candidate’s soft skills throughout the hiring process.

Video screening such as recorded video cover letters or live interviews is a great way to get an impression of a candidate’s communication skills and body language. It’s important to couple this with behavioral questions that are based on real-life experiences and demonstrate a time they exhibited their soft skills, for example:

  • Describe a time when you had a problem with your manager/supervisor and how did you resolve it?
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?

These can also be checked with their referees as to whether they displayed these strong skills in their previous roles.

Different assessments can be used to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills. Psychometric assessments can check aptitude and personality by administering appropriate tests. These tests measure the personality traits and cognitive abilities of candidates. Problem-solving assessments or group assessments can be employed to assess a candidate’s ability to work in groups, exhibit leadership, and problem-solving qualities.

Soft skills are of increasing importance. Hiring managers need to ensure their hiring process is developed with this in mind and evaluates the candidate’s soft skills. Not only will this increase their likelihood to succeed within the role and fit the culture, but hiring a candidate that lacks these skills will result in an increased strain on business performance, internal resources and create low morale.

For more on improving the hiring process, have read of our blog on 6 recruitment challenges and how to overcome them.