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Hard Skills Assessment: How They Help HR Leaders Make Hiring Decisions

If you Google “soft skills,” you immediately receive 756 million results in 0.77 seconds. And, honestly, it’s not surprising.

Soft skills have been a top discussion point among recruiting professionals, as these skills are often a better predictor of future job performance than hard skills. But that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water. 

Hard skills are still a critical element to consider during the hiring process. Keep reading to learn more about how hard skills assessments can benefit HR leaders during the candidate decision-making process.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard skills include technical training and knowledge gained through education, licensing, or experience. These skills are measurable.

According to LinkedIn, some hard skills that employers are currently looking for include:

  • Computer skills, such as OneNote, Excel, and Outlook
  • Marketing skills, such as data analysis and project management
  • Writing skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Risk management skills

Soft skills, on the other hand, are typically habits and/or characteristics shaping how you work individually and with others. Some top soft skills that employers are currently looking for include:

  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management
  • Teamwork

While hard skills can be learned through education, training, and experience, soft skills can often be harder to teach.  For example, imagine a leader with no natural leadership skills.  Teaching that leader the importance of leadership, mentorship, and communication can be challenging, especially if that leader doesn’t have the requisite soft skills.

Because they serve different purposes, employers often weigh soft skills and hard skills differently, depending on the job.  

And that begs the question – when should employers use skills assessment tests? 

When to Use Hard Skills Assessment Tests in the Hiring Process

There are two times in the hiring process when you should conduct a skills assessment test. 

Why? Because there are two kinds of skills you should be assessing job candidates for – and two different times to use them. 

  • When you have a wide range of diverse and potentially qualified candidates, perform a soft skills assessment first. 
  • And once you have narrowed the pool with your soft skills assessment to those with the soft skills your dream team needs, check for technical expertise and hard skills. 

In other words, test for soft skills first and then for hard skills. Why?

Requiring a hard skills assessment too early in the hiring process can eliminate job candidates who are not well-suited for the role because of their soft skills – or lack of the right soft skills. 

For example, if you’re hiring for a mid-level management position, many candidates may not have experience in your specific team chat apps or project management tools. However, testing those skills too early may eliminate job candidates with excellent communication and teamwork skills – both needed for this role. 

However, if you test for soft skills first, you don’t needlessly narrow your candidate pool.  Instead, you have a qualified candidate pool – from the soft skills side. Then, you can test for hard skills, narrowing down who has the necessary technical skills or if those otherwise qualified candidates need to learn those skills through training or professional development.

Need to determine exactly which soft skills are needed for candidates to succeed in your open roles? Try Cangrade’s Hiring and Talent Management Solutions today.