Soft skills: what they are and how to spot them when interviewing

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While most of us have heard of soft skills, many of us aren’t entirely clear on what they are. However, with Stanford Research Institute International attributing 75% of an employee’s success to their soft skills, they clearly should be focused on when filling roles within your dealership.
 
If you want to better understand what soft skills are and how to spot them when interviewing candidates, here’s what you need to know.

What exactly are soft skills?

The easiest way to describe what soft skills are is to distinguish them from hard skills.
 
Hard skills are typically quite easy to spot. They’re what make a candidate an expert in their field. They are very specific skills which have been obtained through education, training or professional experience. They’re the type of skills you can identify with a quick scan of a candidate’s resume by looking at things like:
 
  • their formal qualifications
  • the roles they’ve held previously
  • the systems they used in the past
  • the brand/s of vehicles and/or equipment they’re most familiar with
Soft skills on the other hand aren’t always as easy to identify. They relate more to an individual’s interpersonal and workplace skills, including how well can they relate to and work with others.
 
From an individual’s personality traits to their emotional intelligence and personal attitudes, it’s these characteristics that can have an enormous impact on how harmonious a workplace is. They can go a long way in fostering positive working relationships and helping to keep conflict at bay—and we think it’s safe to say these are top priorities for any hiring manager!
softskills | Teamrecruit

So, what are some examples of soft skills?

While some of the more obvious soft skills to look for include things like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and time management, soft skills can be wide and varied.
 
Some more examples of soft skills you might want to build into your workforce include:
 
  • leadership
  • negotiation
  • collaboration
  • conflict resolution
  • decision-making
  • prioritisation
  • analytical thinking
  • creativity
  • innovation
  • diligence and attention to detail
  • empathetic listening
  • reliability
  • honesty
  • rapport-building
  • respectfulness
  • delegation
  • work ethic
  • self-motivation
  • friendliness
  • patience
  • flexibility/adaptability

The role of soft skills in recruitment

There are various reasons why it can be advantageous to consider soft skills during the recruitment process.
 
Firstly, soft skills are a great way to draw a point of distinction between two top-performing candidates. If you have more than one candidate with the required hard skills for the role, it’s their soft skills that will ultimately help you determine which candidate will be the better fit for your dealership.

Secondly, the soft skills of an employee can be a key factor in how well you are able to meet the priorities of the business. If you’ve identified that the business is struggling in one or more specific areas, making a strategic decision to recruit staff who possess the right type of soft skills that will help you overcome those challenges can be hugely beneficial.
 
While it’s a given that a candidate will need to possess the required hard skills for a role, looking for an all-rounder that offers a good balance of both the hard and soft skills that are desirable to the business is a recipe for success.

How can you assess a candidate’s soft skills in an interview?

No doubt, testing a candidate’s soft skills can be more difficult than testing their hard skills, however, it is possible.
 
The first step is to clearly define which soft skills would be most valuable to the dealership. While you will need to tailor your approach to target the specific soft skill/s you’re looking for, here are some ideas of what you can do to gain some insights about a candidate’s skillset:
 
  • Ask them about a time when they’ve had to deal with a difficult customer or situation
  • Ask them how they would solve a problem that they may not have the answer to
  • Set a game, challenge or scenario that tests a specific soft skill and see how they respond to it
  • Gauge their attitude and work ethic by asking questions about their past work experiences
  • Get an idea of their personality by asking questions that are not directly related to work
  • Consider how well they related to each member of the panel
Next time you’re interviewing candidates, why not consider placing more weight on soft skills? While hard skills will still be necessary for the role, hiring with soft skills in mind could be a key factor in helping you find that ideal employee that will help take your dealership to the next level.
 
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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