How to Interview Candidates for Soft Skills

Technical skills, often called “hard” skills, are vital for any job. These skills make an employee qualified to do a particular job. In addition, employers look for “soft” skills which determine whether an employee can listen, cooperate with others, resolve conflict, and get along with coworkers and customers alike.

Identifying these soft skills during the hiring process can be difficult. Many candidates with otherwise poor soft skills can often exhibit enough charm to convince a recruiter or hiring manager that they have these personal characteristics. Sometimes, you may not see their lack of consistent soft skills until it is too late.

What are the Most Desired Soft Skills?

Employers are looking for several desirable soft skills, including:

  • Ability to positively influence others
  • Curiosity
  • Empathy
  • Humility
  • Team cooperation
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to take criticism
  • Strong work ethic

Soft Skill Interview Questions

Resumes are the primary source for verifiable hard skills, while the interview is where soft skills are discussed. An interview is not really enough time to gain insight into a candidate’s soft skills, though. You have to be strategic in asking your questions, allowing the candidate to elaborate on how they function in the workplace.

Here are some top questions to ask during a job interview that focus on key soft skills:

“What tools and applications do you use to keep yourself organized?”

This question shows you how a candidate handles their work, keeps track of deadlines, and what good leadership and management habits and instincts they possess.

“Tell me about the last time you learned a new task. How did you go about it? What tools did you use to accomplish it?”

This provides insight into the candidate’s learning ability and resourcefulness in accomplishing goals.

“Tell me about the last time a manager or supervisor rejected one of your ideas. How did you handle that?”

This is a great opportunity to see how a candidate handles criticism and rejection. Pay attention to their tone and body language, looking for any signs of hostility or resentment when recalling the event.

“What was your biggest work failure? What did you learn?”

Resilience is an essential soft skill, so finding out how the candidate responds to disappointments or setbacks is a good indicator of whether they can withstand frustrations and learn from them.


An interview is a very brief time to get to know someone who could become a part of your company’s future. Soft communication skills and key personal characteristics such as resilience, empathy, curiosity, and a strong work ethic can all be determined in this short time if you have the right questions to ask.

Looking for top talent with the soft skills you need? Contact Career Foundations today!