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The Best Way to Avoid Making Costly Hiring Decisions: Soft Skills Tests

Traditional hiring processes often involve several steps designed to assess whether a candidate has the experience and hard skills needed to do the job. Yet they struggle when it comes to assessing soft skills.  

Recruiters and hiring managers are comfortable checking to see if an applicant for a marketing job can use the software required – creating social media ads for example. 

But those hard skills aren’t the only components for success. Marketing team members need soft skills like strong communication, creativity, and strategic thinking.   

Simply asking candidates in an interview if they have these skills is almost always going to get an affirmative answer, so how can you assess these qualities objectively? 

Using soft skills tests is the answer. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use these tests to avoid costly hiring mistakes. 

Why Soft Skills Matter

Soft skills are critically important to a company’s success. 46% of new hires fail within 18 months, and most of those failures aren’t because of a hard skills mismatch. In fact, 89% of recruiters say that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s usually because of a lack of soft skills. 

Hiring failures like these are expensive. Not only have you wasted time in the recruiting and onboarding process, but valuable resources have been spent as well. And now you must conduct the whole process over again. Having a team with stronger soft skills is better for retention and even for your bottom line, so having a process to hire for them effectively is essential.  

Using Soft Skills Tests 

Adding soft skills tests to your hiring process can help you avoid those expensive hiring mistakes. You can test candidates for the most important soft skills, including: 

  • Communication (both verbal and written)
  • Creativity 
  • Adaptability and flexibility 
  • Critical and strategic thinking 
  • Empathy 
  • Teamwork 
  • Time management skills 
  • Self-awareness 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Leadership qualities 

A candidate probably won’t have every single one of these qualities.

That’s why you should rank the most critical soft skills for the position before you begin testing candidates for those skills. Determining which soft skills a role requires, and which are just nice to have, will help make soft skills tests more effective for your hiring process. 

For example, if you’re looking for a VP of marketing, you’ll need leadership qualities, creativity, and strong communication skills. But for a software engineer, critical thinking and time management are more important. There’s no one-size-fits-all list of soft skills. 

Soft Skills Assessments in Interviews

Assessing soft skills quantitatively doesn’t always mean using written assessments, although they are helpful and we’ll cover them next. 

Interviews are an important place to conduct some soft skills tests as well. You can ask candidates to rank their own soft skills to gauge where they believe their strengths lie as a basis for further questions. 

Then, follow up by asking them about situations at work where those soft skills were needed:

  • How did they respond?
  • What made that response work?
  • Is there anything they would do differently?

Another effective way to assess soft skills in the interview process is by carefully observing how candidates interact during the entire interview, not just the part with recruiters. 

Are they respectful and kind to everyone they encounter? Zappos actually has receptionists and shuttle drivers provide feedback on candidates so recruiters can get a view of how candidates behave when they’re not around. This gives insights into a person’s levels of respect and empathy for people at all levels of the organization. 

Finding the Right Soft Skills Test

But if you wait until the interview process to assess soft skills, you might miss out on candidates who have those soft skills in abundance. They may not have as many hard skills or as much work experience. And that can let great candidates slip through your fingers. 

Adding soft skills assessments to the early stages of your hiring process, before you conduct interviews, lets you surface people with excellent soft skills faster. Since soft skills are harder to train than hard ones, finding these hidden gems earlier can help you build teams with very strong creativity, flexibility, and strategic thinking. This helps avoid hiring those who look good on paper but end up being a poor fit. 

Are you looking for a pre-made, bias-free hiring assessment that includes soft skills tests to add to your hiring process? Cangrade’s Pre-Hire Assessments measure 50 personality traits, including the most essential soft skills, to accurately predict which candidates will make high-performing employees (including who will stay long-term!). 

Request a demo to see how Cangrade can help you leverage soft skills tests.