20 Interview Questions to Ask to Assess a Candidate’s Soft Skills

In an ongoing study of hiring managers leading in the COVID workplace, a new set of essential soft skills is emerging. The open survey finds that communication, initiative, time management, self-discipline, and professionalism are highly prized characteristics of talent today. With most employees still working remotely some or all of the time, it’s logical that hiring managers see these skills as having a direct impact on employee productivity and engagement with their work.

 

Asking Questions that Show & Tell

A candidate can claim various soft skills on their resume – abilities that are notoriously hard to measure. So how can hiring managers suss out the hard facts when it comes to soft skills? When evaluating a candidate’s soft skill savvy, hiring managers will need to rely on questions that elicit qualitative descriptions that illustrate how a candidate behaved in a workplace situation. Here are some questions a hiring manager might use to evaluate today’s most coveted candidate characteristics:

 

Communication Questions

  •  Give me an example of when you had to explain to your manager a complex challenge you encountered while working on a project.
  • Tell me about a successful presentation you made, and what made it so.
  • Describe a time when you had to convince someone resistant to an idea or a change.
  • Explain how you resolved a miscommunication on your team or conflict between colleagues.
  • Describe a time when you had to work cross-functionally with another team or department.

 

Initiative/Self-starter Questions

  •  Detail a situation when you recognized there was a better way to do something, and you took the initiative to improve the process.
  • Give me an example of a project or initiative that you took from idea to executed deliverable.
  • Tell me about a time where you took on extra responsibility or went above and beyond your set role.

 

Time Management Questions

  •  Talk to me about your process for organizing your day.
  • Tell me about a time you had competing deadlines.
  • How do you manage stress or feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list?
  • What routines or productivity tools do you employ to manage your day?

 

Self-discipline Questions

  • How do you minimize distractions during the workday?
  • How do you motivate yourself to tackle the least appealing item on your to-do list?
  • Explain how you balance work and home demands.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake or missed a deadline.

 

Professionalism Questions

  • Tell me about a time you had to address problematic behavior from a co-worker.
  •  Remind me why you are leaving your current employer. What is your primary complaint about your current manager? (Note: a candidate with a finely tuned sense of ethics and professionalism will avoid negative comments about previous employers and managers)
  • Describe a situation when you were privy to confidential information and how you handled it.
  • What dimensions of professionalism do you believe are most important to this role?

 

During these days of from-a-distance camaraderie and supervision, soft skills have never been more critical to on-the-job success and team fit. Managers should take a bit of extra time to prepare thoughtful interview questions to uncover candidates’ remote-work readiness.

 

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