12 April 2022

Why soft skills are important for recruitment

By Stéphane Vincent

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In recent years, recruitment professionals and internal HR teams have come to understand the importance of soft skills. They know that hiring a candidate who doesn’t have them can be detrimental to company operations, especially when it comes to recruiting a CEO, a senior manager or a team leader. Here’s why.

What is a soft skill?

In the field of human resources, the term “soft skill” refers to behavioural competencies linked to a candidate’s level of emotional intelligence. It is a relational aptitude that goes hand-in-hand with expertise (otherwise referred to as “hard skills”, those technical or intellectual abilities necessary to perform a job well).

If the CEO or team leader you hire does not possess a sufficient level of emotional intelligence, be aware that his or her academic credentials, organizational skills, technical knowledge and vision will not be enough to make him or her the effective leader you seek.

According to the experts(1), essential soft skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Patience
  • Listening skills
  • Empathy
  • Ability to resolve problems and conflicts diplomatically
  • Communication, consensus-building and networking skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Agility, proactivity and creativity
  • Positive attitude, friendliness and courtesy
  • Negotiating power through diplomacy

These qualities complement and support leadership and skills linked to expertise.  It is not about having an “iron fist in a velvet glove”, but about applying sound management with diplomacy, understanding, flexibility and empathy.

How can you tell if a candidate has soft skills?

Don’t run the risk of compromising your operations by hiring a CEO or team manager who lacks soft skills. To ensure that your hiring candidates have sufficiently developed emotional intelligence, you can:

  • Analyse the cover letter

Does the candidate highlight his or her interpersonal skills, motivation and values as well as technical know-how?

  • Contact a previous employer

You can even talk to an employee who has been part of his or her team to find out about the candidate’s management style, how they interact, their ability to resolve issues and conflicts and the quality of their manager/employee relationship.

  • Preselect candidates through a video interview

Assess the candidates’ motivation and technical skills while analysing their attitudes and interpersonal skills. Does the candidate seem stressed? Does he/she react well to any technical problems encountered during the interview? Are they able to put you at ease? Do they seem to be good listeners? Do their answers and general attitude show adaptability and creativity? Will he/she be able to create a collaborative atmosphere among your team members?

  • Ask key questions during the interview

In order to determine whether the candidate has a high level of emotional intelligence, ask questions that will give you an idea of his/her psychological and behavioural profile (i.e., “What would you do to resolve such and such conflicts or problems?”). Ask about the human qualities that will help him/her to manage teams or to lead the company (in the case of the CEO). Can the candidate describe past personal or professional situations in which these qualities have been useful?

  • Conduct personality tests

These tests save companies time and money by providing an analysis of candidates’ personality traits. This makes it easier to assess behavioural skills and potential.

Make your recruitment a success!

Don’t let your recruitment process suffer because a candidate may lack emotional intelligence. To hit the bull’s-eye, work with Glasford International Canada, a leading executive recruitment firm. Our recruitment specialists will conduct the pre-selection interviews and ensure that personality tests will have been completed before your own interview with the proposed candidates.

That way, you’ll be sure to choose a CEO, manager or team leader who has both know-how and interpersonal skills.

(1) Le réflexe « soft skills », les compétences des leaders de demain, by Fabrice Mauléon, Julien Bouret and Jérôme Hoarau, Ed. Dunod, 2014.

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