How to Identify Soft Skills in a Job Candidate

Every job requires people skills, also known as soft skills.  One position, a customer service manager, may require more soft skills, while another, a software engineer requires less, but all jobs entail some amount of human interaction, so soft skills are always needed.  How does an interviewer know how to identify soft skills in a candidate?

To answer that question, we must first consider what personal qualities underlie exceptional service or soft skills.  Once we know that, we can select candidates who possess those qualities.  It ends up there is a single quality that gives a service worker good soft skills.  That quality is personal honesty.

In his book, Hire Honesty, Bill McConnell explains that personal honesty rests at the foundation of positive customer service attributes like patience, listening ability, humility, and empathy.  Honest people acknowledge the world around them as it really is.  So they are used to handling real world situations and the challenges posed by them.  When honest people are confronted with another person’s problems, they have the worldly understanding that allows for practical responses.  This way, honest people solve problems instead of exacerbating them.

So how do you identify customer service skills in a job candidate?  You look for personal honesty.  “But,” you respond, “honesty is a hard concept to pin down.”  And you’re right.  Besides a witty liar can fake honesty.  So that’s where “managed conversation” and “all about you” interviews come into the picture.  We’ll discuss those in another blog.


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