10 Tips for Putting Soft Skills at the Heart of Hiring

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It’s all very well to say ‘Put soft skills at the heart of your hiring process’ but sometimes people need a little help knowing what to do and where to start. Here are my 10 top tips to help you really make a success of using soft skills analytics in your hiring process:

1. Take the time to really think about what kind of personality you need

What kind of personality, skills and person do you need? This helps you know what to look for and the candidates to know if they should apply or not. Some organisations have hundreds of people applying for just one job, but the job descriptions can be so bad that lots of those people aren’t right. Then hours are wasted sifting through CVs and running tests, all because someone didn’t set the right profile at the beginning of the process.

2. Highlight those soft skills when designing the job description and advert

Make it clear what you are looking for. Ensure candidates can see what kind of personality is needed and what competencies are needed. Try to oming empty phrases such as “great team worker” If you copy the job description from the competition on a job board – rethink point 1.

3. Don’t just look at the here and now, in terms of skills

Look at a person’s potential – do they have the right soft skills (good motivation, initiative and communication skills, for example) so that they can grow into a role? Are you hiring for potential and attitude?

4. Think about how the candidate will fit, personality wise, with the rest of the team

Do they fit well to their future manager? Will they make a good cultural fit in the organisation? These are important questions and if you have three great candidates, how they will fit in with their colleagues and boss could be the deciding factor. A good screening software helps you here.

5. Really look at the candidates

Don’t just look at what you want and need. Always keep in mind that there’s a person on the other side. Employer branding is so critical these days and making sure candidates have a good experience, whether they get the job or not, is an important part of that.

6. Be more human than resources

Technology should allow you to have more time to devote to what is most precious and important, so have systems in place that help you to focus on the human stuff, rather than just processes. HR has become far too process driven – onboarding people, processing CVs, etc. Let systems do this because they actually do it better than humans can. Then HR can focus on the human side of HR instead. We still need quality interviews, for example.

7. Make interviewing people who are not a good fit something of the past

With softfactors, you should only be interviewing people who are a good fit. And good fit means not only skills, education and experience but also the right personality, competencies, motivational drives, etc. At softfactors, we have found that a soft skills pre-screening and assessings reduces the amount of time spent interviewing by 50% or more.

8. Give candidates feedback about their fit early

It is part of ensuring there is a good candidate experience. With softfactors testing, candidates receive near instantaneous online feedback about how the test went. Especially younger applicants (not only generation Y – but also) are expecting a direct, immediate and personized feedback.

9. Combine data with gut feeling at interview

Don’t rely on just one, but both together – data and gut feeling. At the end of the day, it’s a person to person thing. And an interview is often a shining performance for one or two hours (on both sides) so using data for your interview helps you detect and read a person – along with your great interview skills.

10. Use the information you have gathered for onboarding and development

Don’t let it just go to waste once the hiring decision is made. People development can start with hiring. The software highlights a person’s gaps, their strengths and weaknesses. This enables organisations to formulate development plans for new hires at the very beginning of the employer-employee journey. Onboarding starts with pre-screening and people development too: that is why we developed softfactors.


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Soft Skills Analytics: Five Measures of Impact

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There are several ways that organisations can and should measure the impact of hiring for soft skills. After all, you want to know if it’s working, where it’s working and what the benefits are to the organisation.

Improved speed of hire, candidate selection, quality of hire and retention are all benefits that can be achieved by hiring for soft skills and all of these benefits are measurable. Indeed, at softfactors, a Swiss HR Tech company, we already measure some of these benefits and will soon be measuring all of them.

Faster speed of hire

Let’s start with speed of hire. This is as it sounds: we measure how long it takes to get a new hire on board once the recruitment process has started, from start to finish. It’s very easy to measure and the results should be significant. Many of the companies that use our screening tools have reported halving the recruitment time from three months down to one and a half months. In one instance, we hired a communications specialist for a company in just four weeks, from posting the job advert to issuing the job offer to the candidate. Being able to speed up the time to hire is particularly important for business critical, strategic and senior roles.

Identify better candidates

Improved candidate selection is another major benefit and what this refers to is the ability to identify strong candidates and screen out unsuitable candidates early on. Our soft skills analytics give hirers a really good, detailed understanding of the aptitudes, personality traits and motivational drivers of candidates. This enables hirers to weed out those who might otherwise have made it through to interview and only select a handful of really strong candidates.

By only inviting promising candidates to interview, hirers enjoy significant time savings. Consider how long it takes to set up and prepare for interviews, conduct the interviews, assess candidates afterwards and then feed back the information. If a hirer is only doing that three times, instead of five or ten or 15 times, that’s a substantial efficiency saving in terms of time and resources.

A better candidate experience

It also makes for a better candidate experience. Interviews require candidates to invest time and energy as well, so better to only select those for interview who stand a good chance of securing the position.

We can also provide hirers with data on where the good candidates are coming from – is it LinkedIn? Facebook? Monster? Organisations can use this information to target their recruitment efforts more effectively.

Improved quality of hire

Proving an improved quality of hire is perhaps the hardest benefit to measure. However, conversations with line managers and anecdotal evidence can be useful here, plus other measurables, such as time to competency, how well a candidate performs in a role and how long they stay.

Increased employee retention

Retention is something that we plan to measure soon. If there’s a good candidate-job-manager-organisation fit, then we would expect candidates to stay longer within a job and to progress up through the organisation.

Screening that leads to better retention rates is certainly something that a lot, if not all, companies would be interested in. As one senior investment banker quoted in the Financial Times article said, soft skills tests that can accurately predict the likelihood of candidate staying and succeeding in a role “would be terrific”.

This last benefit takes a bit longer to measure, because the tracking takes place over a longer period of time. But it can all be done and can show hirers the several clear benefits of testing for soft skills.

 

So, in conclusion, there are several ways that organisations can and should measure the impact of hiring for soft skills. In fact, it would be very unwise not to do so with the current available technologies.


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