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A Guide to Assessing IT Candidates' Soft Skills

12 Feb 20 by Michelle Bishop

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A Guide to Assessing IT Candidates

While technical skills are obviously an important consideration in determining a candidate’s suitability for a Tech job, in recent years, soft skills have become just as key. After all, the strength of an applicant’s non-technical skills can indicate not only whether they are a good cultural fit, but how they will perform in the long-term.


To secure the perfect person for your team, it’s essential to know which traits to look for and the best way to identify them during the IT recruitment process. Here are our top tips for how to assess soft skills in an interview.


The Importance of Soft Skills in IT


When interviewing for an IT position, it’s common to find yourself in a situation where there are several candidates with very similar hard skill sets. While technical expertise will naturally play a central role in your decision, the right blend of soft skills can help the chosen candidate truly thrive in their new role, not to mention complement your existing team.


As an IT hiring manager, what are the non-technical skills you should be looking for? When it comes to assessing candidates’ soft skills, the following are particularly relevant for IT professionals:

  • Problem Solving – Whether the role is client-facing or internal, all IT professionals should have strong problem-solving skills. It might be fixing a network problem or designing new frameworks – either way, excellent problem-solving skills shorten issue resolution times, reduce costs per incident, and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Teamwork – While studies show that the majority of people in the sector prefer working alone, team members who have the ability to collaborate and work as a team ultimately achieve more in the workplace.
  • Communication – Strong communication skills, including the ability to relay complicated technical information simply and effectively, are invaluable.

These are just a few of the many soft skills that can set a Tech professional apart from the rest. Your
specialist IT recruiter will be able to help you determine the right mix of traits that will not only strengthen your team but add value to the role.


While it’s easy for candidates to claim these qualities in their CV, evaluating whether a potential team member has truly mastered the desired set of soft skills requires a thorough interviewing process and a little sleuthing. This is where mastering behavioural interviewing techniques can assist employers in assessing the strength of candidates’ soft skills.


Behavioural Interviewing to Assess Soft Skills

Many hiring managers agree that screening for soft skills in the interview process is a difficult task. Behavioural interviewing, which is based on the premise that past behaviour is the best indicator of future action, is a fantastic tool for assessing candidates’ emotional intelligence, personality traits and interpersonal skills.


Behavioural interview questions ask about past work situations. They will generally begin with phrases such as: ‘Tell me about a time when...’, ‘Give me an example of...’, or ‘Describe a situation when you...’. Asking questions in this open-ended way encourages candidates to discuss how they used their soft skills in the context of past experience. Keep in mind, however, that candidates will often prepare for such questions, making it difficult to determine those answers that are genuine and those that have been prepared in advance.


Looking to fine-tune your behavioural interview techniques? The following tools will help:

  • Craft questions that reflect the skills you need – Analyse the role requirements and prepare questions designed to pinpoint the relevant soft skills. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with another department to solve a challenging IT issue.”
  • Get specific – Evidence shows that asking candidates about particular challenges and experiences gives more meaningful insights into how the candidate will fit in. For example, “Has there been a time in the past when you have disagreed with a colleague’s decision? What did you do?”
  • Use assessments – psychometric assessments (such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or DiSC Profiling) can provide valuable insight into a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Summary

Often, knowing the soft skills that are most relevant to the industry, and crafting behavioural interview questions to target them, will result in fewer bad hires and ultimately build a stronger, more effective team.


Are you struggling to find the right candidates? Contact us today for more advice on behavioural interviews and help with IT recruitment in the Christchurch Technology sector.