Soft Skills: The secret to hiring more successfully?

Imagine … you are conducting an interview and you come across Bob, 24, Graduate from a well-established university. You invite him to participate in a technical test in order to find out the level of expertise he has on several programming languages. You notice that he works quickly, pays attention to detail and according to the test result has highly advanced technical skills. You think “This is the one I really need in my team!” The interview process continues and then you meet your last candidate. Her name is Monique, 27, a passionate self-taught web designer who comes across as a very likeable person with good soft skills. Her technical test result was not outstanding, nevertheless it was good. You decide to choose between these two candidates. You invite both to an in-house “Experience Day” hoping that after spending some more time with them you will be able to make up your mind who to hire.

You ask Bob and Monique to work on three little projects with other team mates. At the end of the day you challenge your colleagues by asking the crucial question: “Who should we hire?” The whole team – without exception - told you that Monique would be a dream to work with. Why? They were impressed with her for several reasons. Let me tell you more about it.

  • Her networking skills. When she arrived at the office she greeted everyone by name. Team members were positively surprised about the fact that she already knew the names of all other team members. When asked how she did it, she replied by saying “I looked at your website and memorised all staff members’ names.” During lunch she was an excellent communicator and networker. It wasn’t difficult to interact with other team members because thanks to her research on LinkedIn she knew what peoples’ personal interests were and conducted great conversations. Since some of their interests were similar to hers, finding a common ground with them was very easy for her.
  • Her team working skills. She was a real asset for the team. She made several suggestions and knew how to give constructive feedback to other team members’ ideas in an assertive way without being offensive. When asked to do some research about a topic on the internet she was the one who instantly rolled up her sleeves and got started. She was focused on the final outcome and shared the same passion and goals to create something unique.
  • Her problem solving skills. When the team after so much hard work was suddenly faced with a technical issue she didn’t complain about it but tried to come up with a solution. Actually not just one but two and she helped her team to sort out the issue. In her previous company she was faced with a similar problem and was very confident in solving the same problem one more time.
  • Her communication and presentation skills. When the team received a new enquiry from a client to build a responsive website she was listening attentively at the clients’ needs. She was able to turn the website’s features into the client’s benefits in a very positive and confident manner. The result was that she successfully won the client over on the phone. Bingo!
  • Her work ethic. Without complaining she stayed one hour longer at the office in order to make sure the project will be completed on time as expected. She demonstrated great initiative throughout the day and did not need to be constantly told what to do next.

Are you wondering what happened to Bob? His technical superiority was certainly clear but he felt so intimidated by Monique’s attitude and people skills that his self-confidence completely vanished. He did not connect well with other team members, was perceived as highly arrogant and thus didn’t seem to be a great fit for that company.

So, what can we learn from this experience? In today’s workplace you need soft skills (so called people skills/interpersonal skills/emotional intelligence) as well as hard skills (known as technical knowledge). What do you think is more important? Many research studies show that hard skills are important but it is the soft skills that will make a company more successful in the long run. An employee with great soft skills is in higher demand than one that is a technical genius but doesn’t get along with others. Employers nowadays want to hire people who already have great soft skills from Day 1. Many companies nowadays are prepared to offer further training if a person’s technical skill or knowledge in a certain area is limited. That is something that can be learnt quickly but the right attitude is something you either have or you don’t have.

I remember often telling jobseekers “It’s the hard skills that will get you the interview, but it’s your soft skills which will finally get you the job!” or how did John Rockefeller say it? “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other skill.” 

Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.