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20 interview questions to evaluate soft skills

February 23, 2021
iCIMS Staff
6 min read
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“Why would you like to join our company?” 

You and your team have likely asked this question to each candidate during an interview. While it’s a valid question, it often gets the same rehearsed answer. “I want to join an ambitious company and participate in its exciting development with passionate people…”. 

Your interview process is an opportunity to get to know candidates better, and answers like these don’t reveal much about the applicant. Instead, you can leverage interview questions that help uncover the candidate’s soft skills.  


Why is it important to evaluate soft skills? 

SHRM identifies soft skills as the “behaviors, personality traits and work habits, such as collaboration, critical thinking, perseverance and communication, that help people prosper at work.”  

That last part is key. Hard skills, like operating machinery or using a software program, allow employees to perform the day-to-day function of their job. But soft skills help employees excel in their career.  

According to a study by LeadershipIQ, 89% of hiring failures are the result of attitude, not a lack of technical skills. For example, an employee who is a whiz at AutoCAD could end up a “new hire fail” because they struggle to accept feedback, take initiative, or have a poor attitude.  

That’s why it’s so important to assess soft skills throughout your interview process. Answers to these questions can help hiring teams identify the candidates who will thrive in your company culture and be a great long-term fit.  

Learn more about soft skills in our ebook, Top 100 interview questions to identify soft skills. 


20 interview questions to evaluate soft skills 

The soft skills you’ll want to uncover will vary based on your company culture and the role you’re hiring for. You may want someone in a management position to show proficiency in leadership and decision-making skills while an independent contributor should display teamwork and creativity.  

To spark inspiration, here are 20 questions to evaluate a wide range of sought-after soft skills.  

  1. Adaptability: Tell me about a time you were asked to do something completely new. How did you react? What did you learn?  
  2. Ambition: Can you tell me about an action you’ve taken to further your career?  
  3. Competition: Are you motivated by winning or the fear of losing? Tell me why. 
  4. Coordination: In your opinion, what are the best ways to communicate within and between teams?  
  5. Creativity: If you were a kitchen utensil, which one would you be and why?  
  6. Curiosity: What is one new skill you’ve recently learned?  
  7. Cognitive flexibility: What do you do to show the people you are talking to that you are listening but disagree? 
  8. Teamwork: Tell me about one of your best teamwork experiences and how you contributed.  
  9. Stress management: How do you reduce your stress level in a critical situation? 
  10. Time management: Tell me about a time you missed a deadline. How did you manage it?  
  11. Emotional intelligence: How do you defuse a tense situation? 
  12. Decision making: When you have an objective, but you do not have the tools or means to reach it, how do you proceed? 
  13. Leadership: Can you tell me about a situation where you took the lead on a project?  
  14. Negotiation: You need to convince your manager that it is impossible to meet your targets. How can you prove it? 
  15. Critical thinking: Why are you changing jobs? What could your current company change to keep you? 
  16. Perseverance: At what point do you abandon a project or an idea?  
  17. Persuasion: What makes you the best candidate for this job?  
  18. Proactivity: Give me an example of a new idea you presented to your manager. 
  19. Problem solving: You have over 700 unread emails in your inbox. You have an hour to deal with them. What do you do? 
  20. Customer service: Tell me about a time you had negative customer feedback. How did you deal with the situation?  

The goal is to find the right balance between original questions that don’t destabilize candidates but are precise and open enough to let them express themselves and show them who you who they are. Additionally, you can simplify and speed up the interview process by using pre-recorded or live video interview software 

These are just a few tips to help you get the most out of your interview process. To get more actionable tips (and 80 more questions), download our ebook, Top 100 interview questions to identify soft skills 

100 questions ebook cta


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