When looking for a new role, whether as an HR manager or a job seeker, it is important to think about more than just hard skills and previous experience. For example, many recruiters take into account a candidate's soft skills – traits showcased in the workplace while working and interacting with others. This helps them evaluate if someone is the right culture fit, what’s their work ethic, how will they get on with the other team members, and are they suitable for the job role.

We’ve put together a list of good soft skills interview questions that can assist you either way, whether you’re a candidate or a recruiter. So, let’s jump in!

What are Soft Skills?

To better understand soft skills, it’s good to gain some insight into hard skills. Hard skills refer to technical abilities, specific to certain jobs or tasks. For example, knowing how to work with a particular program or being proficient in a certain programming language are some examples of hard skills for software engineers. They are important for performing specific job functions.

On the other hand, soft skills are not tied to a specific job or task. They are linked to one's personality, can help with creating a pleasant environment, and improve work-life for everyone on the team. Although they are not limited to interpersonal or social skills, this is what most often comes to mind when talking about soft skills.

Essentially, they are attributes and qualities that help people interact with one another and are, as such, important for almost every job. Sometimes even referred to as people skills, because they make working with people more enjoyable, with easier communication and collaboration.

Some examples of soft skills include: communication skills, adaptability, problem-solving, teamwork, empathy, active listening, critical thinking… you get it!

Why are Soft Skills Important?

Soft skills play a significant role in the workplace because they’re mostly connected to how we interact with each other, as we mentioned previously. They contribute and determine the way we face problems and tackle any crisis, the way we communicate and work together. They help us get along with our team, handle diverse situations, and easily adapt when things change.

They’re not just “nice to have”, but can play a significant role in teamwork especially. Nowadays, it’s very rare that people work just by themselves, as in most situations their work requires collaborating with others. So, no matter how strong hard skills someone might have, having great soft skills is a big bonus, and can even be a decision-maker for recruiters.

With strong and developed soft skills, it’s easier to grow while building good relationships with our team, and with clients and anyone else you might be in contact with at work. So, by having a set of right soft skills, technical skills, and personality traits – you can find a person that is a great cultural fit, as well as a good team member, building great company culture in the meantime.

Best Soft Skills Interview Questions

In this part, we’ll cover some of the basic soft skills, explain each, and a few suggested soft skills interview questions for managers or candidates applying for a new position. Of course, not all questions can be useful for each and every position, as companies should determine which soft skills are important for what job, depending on the role. For example, a person applying for a team lead position should have great leadership skills.

Questions should be tailored to your needs, separating them into “must have” and “nice to have” categories, so feel free to edit these to suit your needs and interview process in the best way.

Communication skills

A cliche, really, but think of it as a skill important for expressing ideas clearly and listening actively. Communication skills help make sure that everyone is on the same page, making teamwork smooth and enjoyable.

  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to communicate some complex information to your team?
  • How did you ensure everyone understood?
  • Describe a situation where you had to resolve a disagreement in your team?

Teamwork & Collaboration

Because teamwork makes the dream work, right? Right! It’s pretty much self-explanatory, perhaps these questions can help pin-point if the person has good teamwork capabilities:

  • Can you give an example of a successful team project you collaborated with your team on?
  • What was your role in that project?
  • What was the goal and deadline of the project?
  • What was the outcome?
  • Would you do anything differently if you were in this situation again?
  • How would you handle any possible differences between work styles or opinions when working with a team?

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Problem Solving

Finding solutions in tricky situations is not an easy job, and not everyone can do it. It requires patience, and people who have great problem-solving skills know how to maintain business as usual, no matter the circumstances.

  • Can you give an example of a time when you encountered a challenge at work?
  • What was the situation and your role in it?
  • How did you handle it?
  • Would you do anything differently now and why?
  • Describe a situation when you found yourself in a new and unfamiliar situation?
  • How did you handle it?
  • What was the result?

Time Management

Having well-developed prioritization and knowing how to organize time, set deadlines, and follow through without being overwhelmed is a really important skill to have. It’s all about being organized, setting priorities straight, and using time wisely to get things done.

  • Can you give an example of a group task with a tight deadline?
  • How did you handle it?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks?

Flexibility

For someone who has this skill highly developed, adapting to new situations should be easy, almost like looking for a new approach is a fun, new, challenge.

  • Was there a situation where you had to adjust your priorities because of an unforeseen circumstance?
  • How did you handle it?
  • How do situations of change impact your work?

Empathy

This skill is an emotional intelligence of sorts. Having a well-developed ability to share feelings can help one understand others, as well as themselves. Empathy is important when dealing with stressful situations or handling conflicts in the workplace.

  • Can you describe a situation where you had to give negative feedback for a team member? (For example on a performance review)
  • How did you prepare for it?
  • How did you communicate it?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What specific actions did you take to provide support or assistance to your colleague?
  • How did this experience impact your relationship with the colleague and the overall team dynamics?
  • Can you give an example of handling a stressful situation with a colleague or yourself?

Leadership

All about guiding and motivating your team to do their best. Great leaders have great assertiveness, know how to inspire others and boost motivation, make decisions, and, perhaps most importantly, keep up the good vibes in their team.

  • Describe a situation where you led a project.
  • What was the goal or deadline?
  • What challenges did you face and how did you solve them?
  • What was the outcome?
  • How would you motivate your team to achieve a set goal?

To wrap it all up, it’s clear that having well developed soft skills is important. While it’s essential to have hard skills for specific tasks, it’s the soft skills that truly set people apart in the workplace. These abilities – such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership… – help out in fostering collaboration, maintaining professionalism, and keeping an overall positive work environment. Hopefully, these interview questions on interpersonal skills will help you out.

So, whether you’re getting ready for an interview as a candidate or a human resources professional, always remember the importance of soft skills. Good luck!

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