When interviewing, it’s not enough to focus solely on hard skills and experience when evaluating candidates. Soft skills play a crucial role in identifying the right fit for a position. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of incorporating both hard and soft skills in the interview process and provide tips for asking insightful questions to assess candidates effectively.

Interviewing is an art that combines detective work, psychology, chemistry, and salesmanship.

Interview candidate on her laptop at Artisan Creative

  • Detective work requires that we ask insightful questions, learn about a candidate’s expertise, look at past work history, and put the pieces of their career trajectory together.
  • Psychology helps us unearth a candidate’s motivations, goals, likes, dislikes, and future aspirations.
  • Chemistry encompasses how we connect as humans. Do we feel a sense of connection, of belonging, inclusion, and how do we relate to one another with authenticity and empathy.
  • A dose of salesmanship ensures that we can highlight the opportunity we are hiring for well and sell the features and benefits of working for our firm. Afterall, as much as we are interviewing the candidate, they too are interviewing us as a potential boss, and our company as a potential next right career step.

Traditional interviews often prioritize a candidate’s hard skills, such as technical expertise, certifications, and years of experience. While these qualifications are important, they only paint part of the picture. In creative fields, for example, proficiency in tools like Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, or After Effects is essential, along with data-driven metrics and ROI. However, soft skills such as empathy, connection, and adaptability are equally vital.

Soft skills align with culture fit, values, communication skills, and overall compatibility with the team. Assessing these skills requires asking situational questions that delve into empathy, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and problem-solving abilities. Some sample questions for soft skill interviewing include:

  1. Share a time when you successfully diffused a misunderstanding between two colleagues.
  2. Describe a situation where you rallied your team members to accomplish a task.
  3. How do you handle change and unexpected interruptions?
  4. Can you explain your approach to prioritizing and planning your day?
  5. Provide an example of fostering a sense of belonging and teamwork among your peers.
  6. What leadership qualities do you admire most about yourself or your current boss?
  7. How did you appease an upset client?

While hard skills can be acquired through various educational resources, assessing a candidate’s cognitive and emotional intelligence, as well as their field expertise, requires a holistic approach. By incorporating both hard and soft-skill interviewing techniques, recruiters and hiring managers can gain a comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s capabilities.

To conduct effective interviews, it’s crucial to listen actively to candidates’ responses, ask follow-up questions, and observe their body language and communication style. This approach ensures a thorough evaluation and helps identify candidates who possess the right blend of technical and interpersonal skills.

Interviewing for hard and soft skills is indeed alchemy and requires a balanced approach.