How can employers use soft skills to identify the top candidates?

When hiring new talent, “57% of talent professionals say they struggle to assess soft skills accurately” according to Global Talent trends from LinkedIn. Determining how a candidates soft skills will translate to either a physical or virtual office space can be tricky to pin down. By including behavioural interview questions in your recruitment process can give you an insight into the long-term potential of a new hire and therefore higher retention.

Here are three of the top skills HR managers look for and how to determine these skills through the interview process.


In most industries, the need for upskilling is apparent, with this comes a requirement for a workforce that can adapt to new changes in tech or other evolving areas of your business. Adaptability means employees who will be able to navigate a wide range of situations where they are able to adjust to new scenarios.

Example questions;

-Ask when they were last asked to do something new and how they reacted. This can show you the excitement they have for tackling new tasks or ideas and how willing they are to leave their comfort zone.

-What was the biggest workplace change they’ve encountered and how did they adapt to the change? The answer here will determine their ability for acceptance and change, were they able to adapt successfully or find the support they needed during that time autonomously.


Collaboration is key to the current business landscape in an age of remote working. It not only increases productivity and connection but morale too. This skill can help you determine if a candidate is likely to embrace working with others or create roadblocks.

Example questions;

-Asking candidates for an example of working with someone who was difficult to get along with and how they dealt with the interactions will give you an insight into their willingness to see things from another perspective and if they’re able to not only identify areas of tension but how they would work to improve the relationship.

-Find out what management style appeals to them by asking them to describe the best manager they’ve worked with. This can help you see their self-reflection and understanding of their own working style and what personalities they work best with.


Leadership skills aren’t just for managers, so hire new talent that inspires and look for leadership potential no matter what level they’re applying for. Advisory site Gallup report that “organisations with strong leadership are 13x more likely to outperform their competition” so it’s key to include all hires in this.

Example questions;

-Ask for a situation where they needed to persuade someone, what steps were taken and what the results were. Here is where candidates can show their strong leadership qualities by sharing their credibility and how they’re able to use evidence to reinforce a viewpoint rather than making statements that can’t be backed up.

-Is there a time they lead by example and how did others react to this? Being able to understand your behaviour and the impact to those around you is key for a good leader. Here you’re looking for someone who has high stands and can inspire the people around them.

Being able to find potential in new hires will help retention and overall growth for your company. By digging deeper into their ability and soft skills you will have a more rounded observation of what they can achieve and where they really excel. For the latest news and access to the top international graduate talent, register with GradLink.

By Jen Garmston Published: Jun 03,2021

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