Recruiting to Last: 3 Tips on How to Screen for “Soft Skills”

The world of staffing agencies is fast-paced – Bullhorn’s S Release is designed to keep up with recruiters’ speed-obsessed, multi-tasking, interruptions-based workday. There can be high candidate turnover depending on the job and industry, but ultimately recruiters are working to make lasting placements that are good fits for both their candidates and their clients. So aside from being able to match work experience to job requisitions, how can recruiters increase placement rates and decrease turnover? More and more, the determining factor isn’t what’s seen on the resume: it’s the ‘soft skills’ – those attributes and characteristics that allow people to work well with others – that ultimately lead to successful and satisfying placements.

Here are 3 key ways to start assessing soft skills:

  1. Ask the Right Questions – The sooner recruiters ask candidates to start describing their soft skills, the sooner they can begin to qualify them. Are there open-ended questions in the applicant tracking system that ask candidates to describe themselves? Are there multiple choice scenario questions that would give insight to how a candidate would respond to office situations? By placing basic preliminary questions in the ATS, recruiters can start to get a sense for a candidate’s strengths before ever having met them in person. Once you bring a candidate in for an onsite assessment, Lou Adler, founder and CEO of The Adler Group, recommends asking this question: “What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?” The follow-up questions will give the candidate the opportunity to describe soft skills that they possess in relation to how they handled an important project.
  2. Personality Assessments – Many agencies require candidates to complete personality assessments as part of their applications. These can be short 10-15 minute online questionnaires to give a baseline direction of the candidate’s personality traits or in-depth analyses that give more detailed reviews of the candidate. By having these more quantifiable results, recruiters can make more informed decisions when making placements.
  3. Open Conversation – Having candid conversations with candidates and clients on exactly what they are looking for in a successful match is crucial. This could mean asking the candidate how they felt about a company’s culture after an onsite interview or asking the client if there were any ‘red flags’ that came up during an interview that had nothing to do with a candidate’s qualifications and everything to do with their personality or how they conducted themselves in the interview. By being willing to hear honest feedback from both parties, a recruiter can quickly decide if a placement will work out long term.

Determining the right questions and/or metrics for assessing soft skills will be different for each agency depending on the roles and companies they recruit for, but by adding this aspect to the interview and discovery process, recruiters can have one more check point for ensuring they have the maximum potential to lead to a lasting placement.

If you’d like to speak to an expert to learn how Bullhorn can improve your organization’s recruiting processes, please let us know.

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