The Importance of Assessing Soft Skills when Hiring Staff

Imagine that you have two candidates competing against each other in the interview process. The first one has excellent technical ability and strong experience but is unfriendly, awkward and difficult to get on with. The second is less experienced and doesn’t have the same level of technical expertise, but is naturally charming, confident and affable. Which one do you hire?

Your answer, of course, will differ depending on your company, the role you’re hiring for, and a whole range of other factors. However, recent trends suggest that, in general, you’d be better off hiring candidate number two.

Traditionally speaking, soft skills such as social and interpersonal skills have been considered secondary to hard or technical skills by companies when hiring new staff. According to Tom Marsden, CEO at data analytics company Saberr, the balance has traditionally been 80-20 in favour of hard skills; there are signs however that it could become closer to 50-50 over the next few years.

There are various reasons for this shift in focus, but chief amongst them is the desire to avoid the loss of productivity that can come with hiring someone who doesn’t collaborate effectively with the team.

Of course, there are certain jobs and industries where hard skills are always going to be of far greater importance. A web developer can be as charming as he wants, but he’s not going to be much use unless he knows how to code. Apart from these highly technical jobs though, the trend over the last few years has been to place a much greater emphasis on soft skills.

This is one reason why many companies now run much longer, more comprehensive interview processes – you may be able to establish fairly quickly whether someone has the ability to do the job, but it sometimes takes longer to establish whether someone is the right cultural fit for the company.

One reason that companies have historically neglected soft skills, particularly social skills, is that they are simply harder to gauge than technical skills. Sometimes, you simply cannot predict how someone is going to integrate into the team, regardless of how they perform in the interview.

The advantage of hiring through a recruitment agency such as Kingsgate is that we offer a level of expertise when it comes to assessing candidates. We meet and assess all of our candidates thoroughly before sending them over to a client, meaning we can ensure they have both the soft and hard skills necessary to succeed in your business.

Interested in working with Kingsgate Recruitment? Give us a call now on 0208 549 7212 or send an email to to discuss your recruitment needs.

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