What are Soft Skills? Why are they important?

What exactly are soft skills?

Employees must have role-specific skills and knowledge in order to fulfil their job tasks. Those who often stand out as high achievers, on the other hand, require certain extra skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly, work well with others, and manage their time efficiently. Soft skills are exemplified by these abilities.

soft skills
soft skills

Although it is hard to define universal soft skills, you may think of them as talents that are not particular to one profession; they are basic qualities that help people flourish in the workplace, regardless of their seniority level, function, or industry. They are also known as transferrable skills or interpersonal skills.

Here are 15 examples of soft skills that employees should possess:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Organizational
  • Stress management
  • Adaptability
  • Conflict management
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Persuasion
  • Openness to criticism

Why is it necessary to have soft skills?

Common criteria in job postings include “communication skills” and a problem-solving mindset. That’s because soft skills may benefit you in the following ways:

Employees with the ability to execute the job well should be sought out. 

  • Example: When it comes to meeting deadlines, a person with strong time management skills knows how to prioritise.

Candidates that satisfy the standard employment criteria might be chosen from a pool of eligible applicants. 

  • Example: When two applicants have identical academic and professional backgrounds, you’re more likely to pick the one who’s more collaborative and flexible than the other one.

Hiring is based on potential, not only on experience. 

  • Example: Instead of selecting an expert for a subordinate post, seek for applicants who have a “willingness to learn” and a “adaptive personality.”

Make well-informed judgments while hiring. 

  • Example: A good salesman has to be knowledgeable with the business and have sales expertise, but they also need to be able to bargain and communicate well verbally.

Evaluate the cultural fit of applicants. 

  • Example: You should seek for individuals that are not hesitant to take responsibility for their work and who are decisive and problem-solving oriented if you value accountability and initiative.

In the workplace, how to evaluate soft skills ? 

Soft skills are frequently intangible and cannot be assessed by just looking at a candidate’s résumé. Then there’s the fact that applicants will want to show themselves in the best light possible during interviews, so it’s your responsibility to dig deeper to find what they can actually bring to the table in the way of soft skills.

How can you evaluate candidates’ soft skills? 

1. Knowing what you’re looking for in potential hires and asking all candidates the same questions in advance will help you find the right person for the job. 

When preparing for a job interview, think about what soft skills are necessary for the position and plan specific questions to analyse them. This stage is crucial if you want to examine all candidates in a fair and unbiased manner. When it comes to sales, effective communication is crucial. Instead of employing someone who just looks to be able to communicate well (e.g. because they’re outgoing), ask specific questions about how applicants use their communication abilities in the workplace.

2. To find out how they’ve employed soft skills in past employment, ask them behavioural questions. 

Past behaviours can also be utilised as a soft skill evaluation. If you want to discover how a candidate has handled conflict, managed time-sensitive assignments, or worked on a collaborative project, you can ask them specific questions about it.

Here are a few suggestions: 

  • In the midst of many tasks, how do you set priorities?
  • In the workplace, what occurred when you and a co-worker differed on how to approach a project or deal with a problem?

3. Utilise fictitious situations, games, and activities that test certain talents. 

In many cases, it’s beneficial to replicate work activities in order to see how applicants would respond to common tasks and problems. Every position, team, and organisation is distinct, therefore it’s important to locate a candidate that fits into your particular work environment and corporate culture. An exercise such as role-playing can assist you determine if a salesperson has the negotiation abilities you’re especially searching for, for example. To find individuals who are innovative problem solvers, you may also utilise a game.

Here are a few instances of what we mean: 

  • How would you prioritise your tasks if you had two significant deadlines looming?
  • What would you say to a member of your team if they weren’t doing as well as they should?

4. Attend to the candidates’ responses and reactions throughout interviews.

Candidates’ soft skills can be gleaned through job-specific questions and tasks. Despite the fact that you’re primarily interested in testing applicants’ knowledge and hard abilities, you’ll still be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses in soft skills. One applicant may claim to be meticulous, but if their written work is riddled with typos and mistakes, that’s a red signal. On the other hand, clear, well-structured responses are an indication of a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively.

Make sure you examine everything when forming an impartial judgement on a candidate’s soft skills and talents, from the way they interact with you during interviews to their performance on job-related activities. As a result, you’ll have more confidence that you’ve chosen the most qualified personnel, as well as those who would function well in your workplace.

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