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Why your interview training program needs to include soft skills

July 8, 2021
iCIMS Staff
7 min read

Preparing staff to interview job candidates can be like trying to teach someone to speak a new language. What comes naturally to talent professionals immersed in the hiring culture day in and day out, might seem utterly foreign to say, a marketing specialist or a retail store manager. It would be like trying out your rusty high school French on a trip to Paris versus living in the 16th Arrondissement.  

Looping team members into the interview process allows them to assess their potential new coworkers for themselves. You want to ensure that there’s buy-in on the candidates you’re bringing forward and that the new hire’s manager and teammates are excited about the new addition. 

To that end, staff members would benefit from an interview training program to give them pointers on questions to ask and things to look for throughout the conversation. It’s also an opportunity to put down boundaries and ensure that no one on the team goes rogue and asks unlawful or potentially discriminatory questions.

You can empower your teams and hiring managers to look beyond education, experience, and hard skills like coding or cash management, for candidates human factors or soft skills like creativity and concentration. These personality traits or social skills are what make us human and are much harder to quantify on paperSoft skills that work for one team might not gel with another, which is why its important to bring potential coworkers into the interview process. 

Looking for skills not listed on the resume

Identifying soft skills helps employers anticipate how well the candidate will fit in a team and the company, gauge performance potential, and determine what kinds of personal and professional development they might need. 

Evaluating for qualities like attitude, empathy, and curiosity is more than just making sure your candidate is a nice person. Ultimately, you want to bring in someone whose personality traits complement the team and the organization. One study showed that 89% of new hires who fail within the first 18 months of a new job do so because of poorly aligned motivation or personality.  

“Often the best predictors of future job success are the hardest to measure,” Joe Essenfeld, vice president of business architecture at iCIMStold Fast Company. “On paper, job candidates do—and should—list relevant past experience, technical, and hard skills that level up nicely to the position they want. But what most candidates overlook is the need to outline soft skills and how they ladder up to future success in the position.” 

Helping staff to look for soft skills during interviews 

To avoid the disconnect, interviewers can leverage interview questions that evaluate soft skills. Soft skills reveal people, social, and communication skills, along with character or personality traits, attitudes, and mindsets. 

As part of your interview training program, you can supply staff with a list of possible questions to pose to a candidate to help assess for soft skills, including:  

  • Adaptability: Tell me about a time or situation where you had to be reactive and flexible. 
  • Curiosity: How do you prefer to learn? 
  • Time management: How do you prioritize your work? 
  • Emotional intelligence:  How do you defuse a tense situation? 

Looking to shake up that list of stale interview questions? Download The 100 best interview questions (and how to get the best answers from candidates), which will help identify top candidates’ soft skills and features the most original interview questions from HR professionals. 

Now that you have some of the top interview questions, how can technology help assess soft skills in candidates? 

Video interviews are here to stay 

As offices begin to reopen and employees and employers alike figure out how to best navigate this new world of work, one thing remains clear: video interviews are here to stay. LinkedIn reported that video interviews are the new standard, according to 70% of talent professionals.  

In our survey, 92% of job seekers told us that they prefer pre-recorded video interviews, citing convenience as their top reason. Here’s what else they told us: 

  1. Video interviews allow candidates to shine beyond their resumes. It’s hard for job seekers to get a sense of your company if all they see is a job description. The same is true for resumes, only in reverse; it’s hard to know who you’re hiring based on an 8×10 PDF, size 11 font, single-spaced. Seeing a candidate on video provides insight into soft skills like their communication style, how well they prepare, and their ability to think critically. 
  2. Candidates have flexibility when doing on-demand video interviews. By making the video interview tool available on-demand, employers can allow candidates to decide when to record (80% do so during working hours) and what device they want to use (51% opt for a mobile device, 49% use their desktop). Candidates also choose where to be, and can rerecord sections if a child walks in looking for lunch or the neighbor is at it with the leaf blower again. 
  3. 83% of job seekers perceive employers that use video interviews as innovative. High favorability means you may wish to advertise an on-demand video interview before job seekers apply. Promoting the recorded video format could have the bonus of deterring job seekers who are mass applying to every listing they find, as they may not want to provide the extra work. 

Video interview software allows candidates to shine beyond their resumes. It’s hard for job seekers to get a sense of your company if all they see is a job description. The same is true for resumes, only in reverse; it’s hard to know who you’re hiring based on an 8×10 PDF, size 11 font, single-spaced. Seeing a candidate on video provides insight into soft skills like their communication style, how well they prepare, and their ability to think critically. Best of all, using video keeps things easy and can help keep candidates engaged since 60% of them drop out of a selection process that they feel is too long or complicated.  

Up your organization’s video game. Download our Guide to Evaluating Talent Through Video to learn more.


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