The most successful organizations periodically audit and amend their business procedures for both compliance and effectiveness. By doing so, firms continuously improve their operations and retain a competitive edge. However, these audits often overlook one critical area: the interview and hiring process.
You might be thinking that your company’s interview and hiring process is perfectly fine -- that if it’s not broke, why fix it? However, best practices have changed over the years. Since your employees are the lifeblood of your organization, it’s a good idea to review what your hiring teams are doing -- and make any needed adjustments.
Let’s start by exploring the potential pitfalls of the traditional interview.
Interviews are a crucial component of the hiring process. However, if they’re not conducted strategically, they’re little more than a rehash of the candidate’s resume, with a few tired, ineffective questions peppered in. Questions like “what’s your greatest strength?” or “what’s your greatest weakness?” result in an answer that the candidate thinks you want to hear, yielding no useful insight into their projected performance.
Research shows that the best interview questions reveal how a prospective hire would handle a given situation based on how they’ve approached similar scenarios in the past. Implementing the behavioral interviewing technique, you ask the interviewee to recount specific stories from their work experience. Then, what they say reveals a lot about their personality and soft skills.
Some examples of behavioral-based interview questions include:
To compare candidates effectively and fairly, you must put all of them through an identical interview and hiring process. That means interviewers need to ask each person the same questions in the initial interview and score their responses according to a predetermined standard. A scoring rubric can help interviewers provide a consistent and fair interview experience for all job candidates.
Further reading: Need a little help refining your interview process? Check out our Resources Page for interview guides, interview question ideas, and more.
Depending on your firm’s procedures, your interview process may be long and tedious, requiring extensive candidate research and interaction. So, even though hiring the right people is a worthwhile pursuit, it can be draining. And, when you’re fatigued, you’re not an effective interviewer. You may rush through interviews, fail to process what candidates tell you, and make hasty hiring decisions -- a disservice to the candidates and your company.
You’re biased. We all are. Your personal experience and upbringing have cultivated long-standing beliefs about people. Unfortunately, your biases could cause you to hire -- or decline -- a candidate based on a hunch. The key is recognizing this fact and actively nipping those biases in the bud when they creep in.
So, how do you reduce fatigue, mitigate bias, and truly know your candidates so you can make informed, fair hiring decisions? That’s where a behavioral assessment comes in. The assessment takes an inventory of each candidate’s traits, compares it to your current high performers' benchmark data, and translates the findings into useful insight about the candidate’s predicted performance. If administered at the beginning of the hiring process, a behavioral assessment can help you:
Omnia offers an easy-to-implement behavioral assessment so you can get started right away. Results are instant, digestible, and actionable. If you want even more insight, our team can provide you with an in-depth analysis of your assessment data. Remember: we’re here to help you improve your hiring and interview process so that your company continues to thrive!
If you haven’t looked at your hiring or interview process in a while, chances are it could use some help. When implemented together, behavioral interviewing techniques and behavioral assessments provide you with more reliable and valid information than the standard interview. And, behavioral assessments reduce interviewer bias and fatigue. That means your hiring and interview process is more efficient, fairer, and results in better quality hire for your organization. Talk about a win-win-win!
As more and more organizations shift to using a remote workforce, the traditional in-person interview is also shifting into a virtual context. Remote interviews may not seem like they’re all that different from a physical interview. Still, they introduce many factors that can make them more difficult to manage if a company doesn’t put a lot of thought into implementing them.
Fortunately, several strategies are easy to put in place and will make remote interviews more likely to select the ideal candidate.
One valuable step to include in any remote interview process is leveraging tools to narrow down the candidate pool to qualified and suitable applicants. Pre-employment assessments are incredibly useful in this regard because they can help organizations screen out candidates who lack the competencies necessary for the position. Cognitive testing measures a candidate’s ability to think abstractly, comprehend new ideas and solve problems, which is often critical to success in any new position. Behavioral assessments allow interviewers to determine which candidates are likely to be a good long-term fit for an organization. These assessments measure a candidate’s core traits and intrinsic motivators. Hiring managers gain valuable insight into fit for the job and how to effectively manage and motivate each employee once they are on board.
The results of these tests can be used together as part of the initial decision-making process. For example, if someone possesses all the hard skills necessary for success in the role, but exhibits behavior that suggests they will quickly be looking for another job, it might make sense to prioritize other candidates. These assessments are easy to implement remotely and can be used as a screening tool to determine who moves on to more time-intensive interviews.
When an organization commits to remote interviews, it needs to make sure it has the infrastructure to support that process. Many video conferencing platforms are available to choose from, but it’s a good idea for the company to choose one and stick with it. This helps to avoid any implementation problems and ensures that everyone involved in the interview process knows how to use the technology.
Some organizations may get by with a phone call or straightforward video conferencing software, but some positions may require additional features. For example, a candidate for a programming job may need access to developmental tools to complete a sample project as part of the interview process. It’s important to understand what tools will be needed ahead of time so that the interview process can be designed around the organization’s technology.
Going through the interview process is stressful, but the stress can be even greater when the applicant must use unfamiliar or complicated technology. Organizations need to be clear when providing interview details. If the applicant has to download a special application to conduct the interview or be in a specific location (such as a quiet room rather than a bustling cafe), that information needs to be communicated early and clearly in the interview process.
If assessments need to be completed before a live remote interview, the interviewer must provide reasonable deadlines to ensure that testing is completed in time for them to evaluate the results. They should also provide a resource list if video conferencing software is unfamiliar or complicated to launch. For example, many companies are using Zoom, which is simple to set up and use, while Skype is robust but requires all users to have an account and software downloaded. This ensures that any potential problems are sorted out before the interview begins and avoids losing precious time to troubleshoot technical issues.
Having more people involved in the hiring process generally leads to better outcomes. According to a UK-based Behavioural Insights Team study, having more than one person involved in evaluating a candidate is far more likely to result in a good hire. In cases where applicants are very similarly qualified and have few “easy” differentiators, just involving two people in the interview process increases the likelihood of making the best choice by almost ten percent. Having four people involved improves the odds by almost twenty percent.
That’s because having different perspectives involved can reduce the chance of bias and raise concerns that a single person might overlook. However, the challenge when it comes to remote interviews is determining when having more people involved will make communication difficult. Hosting a video conferencing meeting with a large group increases the likelihood of interruptions and can make it difficult for the candidate to know who to focus on. When possible, the remote interview process should only involve the core team that will make the final decision. Having an agenda and communicating who speaks when is also helpful.
The same soft skills required in in-person interviews are necessary for remote interviews. It’s important to have a system in place to give the interview structure. That could include assigning specific questions to different interviewers or implementing a system for recognizing people who want to speak (such as a raised hand icon). The person leading the interview needs to have a very organized approach to ensure the conversation runs smoothly.
As with a live interview, it’s imperative to plan. Rather than relying on off-the-cuff Q&A, a structured interview focuses on specific areas and ensures that the interviewer gets the information they need from the candidate. 90% of all questions asked during an interview should be related to the position or the company. Having behavioral assessment data can be especially helpful in pre-planning because the interviewer can ask questions better to evaluate the organization’s cultural fit.
In addition to distilling the applicants' pool to the most qualified and best fit before the interview, assessment data is incredibly helpful for guiding the interview process. It saves time and resources but cutting out unnecessary questions and identifying the top candidates. Whether it’s measuring an applicant’s overall mental aptitude with cognitive testing or getting a better picture of their personality with behavioral testing, Omnia assessments can help organizations improve their interview techniques and make better overall hiring decisions.
To learn more about incorporating our scientifically validated assessments into your remote interviews, contact our team today.
Replacing skilled employees is a major challenge for any organization. In addition to the time and expense required to conduct a new search and hiring process to replace a departed employee, there’s also the lost productivity when remaining employees have to pick up the slack until a replacement is selected. That’s why having strong employee retention strategies in place is essential to building a resilient organization. When employees aren’t constantly looking for their next opportunity elsewhere, they are more engaged in their work and take a more active role in contributing to long term success.
There is no universal definition of employee development. Still, most companies understand it to mean a collaborative effort between an organization and its employees to improve their skills and knowledge. In most cases, this is accomplished by making learning resources available while also providing opportunities for employees to gain valuable experience. However, they’re implemented, these programs should be a central component of employee retention strategies.
Employee training and staff development can take several forms. Online learning resource libraries allow employees to learn at their own pace and fit development into their schedules. One-on-one coaching programs pair people with experienced mentors who can offer guidance and suggestions on dealing with new situations and improving in other areas related to their job. Employee training and development programs can focus on hard skills directly related to tasks and soft skills necessary to work collaboratively with others and manage teams effectively.
Investing in staff development also aligns employee career goals with the organization’s long-term objectives. By providing the tools and resources employees need to improve their skills, companies demonstrate that they value professional and personal growth, which helps generate loyalty and improve commitment. It’s no coincidence that a 2018 LinkedIn study found that 93 percent of employees said they would stay with a company longer if it invested in their careers.
When employees feel ignored or undervalued, they can engage in various negative behaviors that are harmful to the organization. Whether it takes the form of declining work quality, poor attendance, or a negative attitude, employee disengagement can quickly contaminate the workplace to diminish productivity and performance.
Providing new opportunities is one of the best ways of pushing back against disengagement. When employees are allowed to improve their skills and gain new experiences, they are more likely to feel valued. Engaged employees also tend to be more productive and efficient overall, which is why companies should spend time thinking about how to emphasize development if they want to get the most out of their workforce.
While today’s employees want development opportunities, they also want them on terms that work for their busy lives and schedules. For many years, companies required employees to attend lengthy seminars or workshops. But this “information dump” approach to learning often left people without a clear idea of implementing the lessons learned (if they even remembered them all after a marathon session). Furthermore, long-duration courses are often inconvenient, either cutting into employees' work productivity or personal time. While some companies have promoted “lunch and learn” or “remote learning” programs, these approaches can create the perception that an employer doesn’t respect personal boundaries.
For many employees, micro-learning resources offer an ideal solution. These programs offer developmental resources in small increments that can be digested quickly and easily during the day. Learning opportunities can also be incorporated into the employee experience more effectively. Providing people with the chance to work on new projects outside their usual responsibilities is just one example of how professional growth can be integrated into employee retention strategies.
It’s a lot easier to help employees understand where they need to improve and what they want to accomplish. Development assessments can provide actionable data detailing what motivates employees to learn, what gaps exist in their natural aptitudes, and what learning and coaching formats are most effective. This allows you to build a customized development strategy for every employee that sets them up for learning success.
Behavioral and cultural fit assessments are also valuable for telling you what environments and situations are the best matches for employees. This can be especially valuable when putting new teams together because it can head off potential conflict sources and help put people in the roles where they’re most likely to be successful. The ability to provide insightful information makes these assessments critical to successful employee retention strategies.
While assessment data is important, it’s also good to know what employees think about their career goals. If someone is happy in their existing role but would like to improve key skills associated with it, they will require a different approach than someone who has aspirations to move into a different role. This is especially important when it comes to preparing people for leadership positions. Not every employee wants to be a leader, but those who generally want to take consistent steps toward that goal. Understanding what each employee wants will make it easier to put the data gathered in their assessments into a meaningful context.
Of course, employees may also have a lot to tell you about the organization (and the people leading it). When soliciting feedback from employees, it’s important to listen carefully to what they have to say. While it isn’t always possible to take action on every point they raise, taking the time to listen and understand their concerns and opinions makes them feel valued and supported. In many cases, their insights can expose issues within an organization and contribute to positive solutions.
One of the most valuable tools for organizations and employees alike is a professional development plan. This document identifies short, medium, and long-term goals the employee wants to accomplish throughout their career. Typically developed in cooperation with a manager or HR director, the employee development plan highlights any skills, competencies, experiences, and education required to achieve each goal. It also identifies potential resources, such as directed learning materials, potential mentors or employee development trainers, and training courses that could prove useful throughout their career journey. With a career development plan laying out a distinct path forward, it’s far easier for employees to see where they need to take steps to further their careers. The plan also helps employers get a sense of an employee’s plans and how they fit into a broader succession strategy.
Organizations that neglect employee retention strategies often discover far too late that they’re actively pushing their best people out the door to seek opportunities elsewhere. When companies implement employee training programs that help people build new skills and become effective leaders, they can significantly improve retention and engagement levels. The combination of development assessments and professional development plans encourages employees to see a future for themselves within the organization.
You may be a computer whiz, a scientific genius, or a master of mathematical theories. However, to be successful, you need more than just expertise in your given specialty. In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE), when participating employers were asked to name the attributes they seek in candidates, they gave their highest scores to the following three traits:
Interestingly, technical skills (59.6%) and computer skills (55.1%), often considered among the most important skills an applicant can possess in today’s high-tech job market, ranked quite low by comparison. The results clarify that employers are paying much closer attention to soft skills in the workplace than they did in years past. In response to the demand for employees who also possess emotional intelligence, some postsecondary schools incorporate soft skills in scientific and technical specialties. For example, Penn State’s Engineering Department offers a career development class for junior and senior engineering students, including team-building skills, communication skills, and leadership strategies.
Soft skills are broadly classified as a combination of personality traits, behaviors, and social attitudes that allow people to communicate effectively, collaborate, and successfully manage conflict. People with good soft skills tend to have strong situational awareness and emotional intelligence to navigate difficult working environments while still producing positive results. This is especially important for leadership positions because good leadership is more about managing people and directing their efforts toward the desired outcome rather than bringing any specific technical skills to bear.
Another benefit of soft skills in the workplace is that they help people to adapt to changing circumstances. Being able to communicate effectively during a time of uncertainty or collaborate with others when solutions aren’t immediately obvious is hugely important whether someone is in a leadership position or not. Given their many applications, it’s hardly surprising that organizations are doing more to assess a candidate’s soft skills during the interview process.
Also Popular: 10 Interview Questions to identify soft skills
Companies want employees who can supervise and direct other workers. They want employees who can cultivate relationships up, down, and across the organizational chain. Leaders must assess, motivate, encourage, and discipline workers and build teams, resolve conflicts, and cultivate the organization’s desired culture. Understanding how to influence people and accommodate their needs is an essential element of leadership. All too many companies overlook when they place someone with the most technical expertise in a position of authority. Soft skills development is often a key component of leadership training.
Most employees are part of a team/department/division, and even those who are not on an official team need to collaborate with other employees. You may prefer to work alone, but it’s important to demonstrate that you understand and appreciate the value of joining forces and working in partnership with others to accomplish the company’s goals. This shows that you possess the soft skills necessary to engage in productive collaboration.
Successful communication involves five components. Verbal communication refers to your ability to speak clearly and concisely. Nonverbal communication includes the capacity to project positive body language and facial expressions. Written communication refers to your skillfulness in composing text messages, reports, and other types of documents. Visual communication involves your ability to relay information using pictures and other visual aids. Active listening should also be considered a key communication soft skill because it helps you listen to and actually hear what others say. You need to be able to listen to understand how to best communicate with someone. Without strong listening skills, any communication efforts will be one-way and probably ineffective.
Many applicants try to minimize problems because they don’t understand that companies hire employees to solve problems. Glitches, bumps in the road, and stumbling blocks are all part of the job and represent learning opportunities. The ability to use your knowledge to find answers to pressing problems and formulate workable solutions will demonstrate that you can handle – and excel in – your job. Discussing mistakes and what you learned from them is an important part of building a soft skills resume.
While you may have a manager, companies don’t like to spend time micromanaging employees. They expect you to be responsible and do the job you’re getting paid to do, which includes being punctual when you arrive at work, meeting deadlines, and making sure that your work is error-free. And going the extra mile shows that you’re committed to performing your work with excellence.
In the 21st century, companies need to make rapid (and sometimes drastic) changes to remain competitive. So they want workers who can also shift gears or change direction as needed. As organizations have become less hierarchical and agile over the last decade, it’s more important than ever for employees to be able to handle many different tasks and demonstrate a willingness to take on responsibilities that might lay outside their area of expertise.
This is a broad category of “people skills” and includes building and maintaining relationships, developing rapport, and using diplomacy. It also includes giving and receiving constructive criticism, being tolerant and respectful regarding others' opinions, empathizing with them. This is among the most important of all the soft skills examples because it is central to building teams with a strong foundation of trust and accountability.
But suppose you don’t have these skills? It’s never too late to develop them. For example, you can learn a lot by observing other people within a company who excel in these seven areas. Also, offering to take on more responsibilities at work (serving on committees, planning events, etc.) can help you gain valuable experience. Also, consider taking online soft-skills courses. Developing emotional intelligence will make you a more valuable employee and increase your chances of career success.
Employee assessments can also reveal areas where improvements could be made, making it easier to put together a development plan to address those needs. People often focus specifically on technical skills or competencies when planning their development, but neglecting soft skills can make it difficult to succeed in future positions that require a high degree of emotional intelligence and social interaction (in other words, just about any leadership position).
An employee’s soft skills can make or break their job performance, especially in leadership positions. Technical or “hard” skills are certainly important, but having good soft skills—those personal characteristics like agreeableness, empathy, the ability to influence and listen, likeability, and the ability to resolve conflict—will determine whether an employee can enlist the necessary cooperation and buy-in from peers, subordinates, superiors, and even clients and vendors, to do their job well.
So, how can you identify a candidate’s soft communication skills? Unfortunately, someone with poor or underdeveloped soft skills can harness enough superficial charm to convince a hiring manager they possess these attributes in spades. But being able to put on an act in a short interview isn’t the same as using soft skills in the workplace. In these cases, the manager might not see the truth until it’s too late.
According to Forbes, these are a few of the key soft skills all employers want workers to possess:
Apart from the right experience and qualifications, employers want workers with good soft communication skills, the ability to work well in a team, good problem-solving skills, good time management and planning skills, the ability to take criticism, and a strong work ethic. Anyone being considered for a people (versus project) management position should also possess coaching, mentoring, and influencing skills.
When we consider that resumes are usually reviewed for technical skills, correctly discerning your candidate’s soft skills sounds nearly impossible. After all, 45-90 minutes (the length of the average job interview) is not a lot of time to gain real insight into a person’s true character.
Here then, are ten soft skills interview questions to help you make the most of your time (and the candidate’s) and focus on key soft skills in the workplace.
This question will provide some insight into the candidate’s learning agility and sense of curiosity. It may also reveal their preferred learning style and resourcefulness when seeking assistance from others.
Rejection is often an exercise in humility. Listen carefully for signs of resentment or hostility when they recount having their ideas shot down or criticized. It’s also important to see how they handle the aftermath of this situation. Did they become sullen and critical, or did they buy-in and contribute to a positive outcome?
While this may seem like a straightforward question about work ethic (and it is), it also offers a glimpse of the candidate’s time management skills. Are they constantly working late to go above and beyond expectations, or do they need to put extra work to meet them?
There is no excuse for disorganization in today’s era of time management tools and applications. Leadership candidates need to know how they keep themselves on track because those habits will often trickle down to the rest of their team.
This question looks at time management and planning skills and provides insight into the interviewee’s emotional intelligence, learning agility, coaching skills, and ability to build consensus and manage conflict.
As they emerge, handling problems is one thing, but laying out a strategic and visionary plan for success from the start is quite another. This question forces candidates to consider whether they have the ability to translate big picture goals into short-term objectives and get their team on-board with a “can’t fail” agenda.
The most successful leaders are always learning. Resilience is among the key soft skills that organizations want leaders to trickle down into their teams. Finding out how people respond to setbacks is a good indication of whether or not they will bounce back from disappointments and frustrations in the future.
Integrity matters in any organization. Will the candidate go along with the crowd when asked to cross a line, or will they take a stand and make the case for doing the right thing? While the latter type of employee may spark the occasional conflict, those conversations almost always benefit the organization in the long run by steering it clear of ethically dubious decisions.
Dismissing an employee is difficult, even if the person is being let go for justifiable (and documented) cause. The potential for conflict is high, and if mishandled, the situation could expose the company to liability. Leaders with good soft skills should have an idea of how to handle those conversations.
The best employees and leaders are always learning. Ideally, their desire to learn should be contagious, encouraging the people around them to level up professionally and grow personally. There should also be an incentive for leaders or managers to learn new things to pass on to the rest of their team.
Keep in mind that as the candidate is answering the questions, you’ll get the opportunity to assess his or her communication skills and style. While your gut reaction is rarely a perfect judge, you should be able to see if the candidate can communicate comfortably and effectively. For a deeper understanding, you should consider using soft skills assessment tools during the interview process. These tests provide information in a more controlled environment, which helps you assess their soft communication skills without the potential bias that comes with an in-person interview.
Soft skills development should be a major component of every employee development plan. The ability to communicate effectively and build strong working relationships is incredibly important for success in any organization. While it’s important to target candidates who possess key soft skills during the hiring process, developing those skills will help make them even more successful in the future.
Providing development opportunities is one of the most important moves an organization can make to improve employee retention. A 2018 LinkedIn Learning report found that a shocking 94 percent of employees said they would remain with a company longer if it did more to invest in their career development. Considering that more employees quit their jobs in 2018 than at any other time since 2001, organizations need to focus on ways to combat turnover and convince their talented workers to remain on board.
They can start by thinking about staff development from the employee’s perspective. Rather than creating development programs that meet the organization’s needs, companies should think about providing resources that employees find engaging, valuable, and convenient. After all, employee training and development are supposed to be for their benefit, so understanding what they want is a good way to design programs they’ll utilize.
Simply offering development resources to employees is only part of the equation. Without support and management guidance, it’s easy for people to think that the organization doesn’t want them to learn and grow. Although managers are already facing major challenges, they need to realize that developing their teams and helping people to reach their potential is a huge part of their leadership responsibilities. In fact, LinkedIn Learning found that 56 percent of employees would complete a development course if a manager suggested it to them.
Managers can also play an invaluable role as mentors, helping employees to formulate a professional development plan that guides their learning over time. Providing this guidance signals that an organization values its people and is committed to their long-term success, improving retention rates.
Organizations once relied heavily upon seminars and “after hours” or “learn at lunch” programs to promote employee development. Unfortunately, these strategies didn’t meet the needs of most learners. In the first place, lengthy seminars, presentations, and workshops tend to dump information onto participants all at one time. While these programs may cover important topics and provide valuable guidance, the odds are good. Very little of that content will be retained by the participants, especially if they are more suited to a “hands-on” learning style. Requiring people to participate in time-consuming programs on their own time can also give the impression that the organization doesn’t value their personal time.
Unsurprisingly, employees consistently point to a lack of time as their primary reason for not engaging with the development options available. Providing learning resources in smaller, more easily accessible formats, such as e-learning tools, interactive simulations, or even short videos, companies can help employees fit development into their busy schedules.
Although technical skills remain important to job success, organizations emphasize soft skills in their selection process. In fact, a recent Cengage survey found that 73 percent of employers are struggling to find candidates who possess the right combination of technical and soft skills. Some of the more valuable soft skills include creativity, communication, empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to manage conflict. Employees recognize that these skills are essential to leadership success and are eager to find opportunities to develop them to further their careers.
Improving soft skills helps them become more adaptable and collaborative, enhancing productivity and engagement. Too often, companies don’t recognize that building these skills isn’t just a key part of developing future leaders, but can also improve organizational effectiveness in several areas when employees can work together to overcome obstacles on their own, everyone benefits. Innovative new development tools utilizing the latest in virtual and augmented reality technology make it easier than ever for employees to develop these soft skills.
While they may want some guidance and support from their employers, most employees want to have the freedom to shape their own development to further their career goals. Forcing people to complete employee training programs for a position or role they have no interest in isn’t going to keep them engaged in the process. By allowing employees to take the lead when it comes to shaping their development path and building their skills, organizations can empower them to establish their own goals and create new opportunities for themselves.
Employees can start this process by working with a manager to craft a professional development plan that defines their career objectives and identifies potential resources to help them achieve those goals. Playing a proactive and central role in planning the development process encourages people to be more invested in learning and gives them more agency in terms of what they choose to prioritize.
Designing development programs that meet every employee's unique needs can be quite a challenge for an organization. By involving people in the development process and using assessments to determine what learning resources will be most effective, companies can create employee training programs that meet their unique needs and help them achieve their career goals. When employees feel like they have that support and guidance, they’re more likely to remain committed to an organization, engaged in their work, and far less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.