How to Judge a Candidate’s Social Skills

When it comes to hiring, we often focus on the technical skills and career experience, but pay less attention to the social skills, or soft skills, of the candidate. However strong social skills are a huge win for any candidate, as technical skill can be taught, teaching social skills is almost impossible. You can’t expect a candidate to have every social skill; however strengths in certain areas can really add value to your business.

There are four different areas you need to consider:

1) Self-Awareness

The ability to see how your behaviours affect those around you is essential in the workplace, especially for those that are applying for a management position. Situations where you require your team to all pull together to achieve the end goal, is much more successful if you have a leader who can quickly judge a situation and see how to gain respect from each individual.

How to identify it…A role play here would be great, for example ask them to give feedback to an imaginary under-performing employee to see how they communicate, and whether they can tackle it with sensitivity.

2) Self-Control

Being able to control your emotions whilst under pressure is a skill that can be highly undervalued in certain industries. A fiery temperament can be seen as a strength for those that manage large teams and need to gain respect, however it can really affect moral in a company which in turn can have a negative impact on turnover.

How to identify it…Again here a role play will help to highlight these issues. Give a candidate a frustrating work situation that they’re likely to come across, and see how they react.

3) Social Intelligence

To be able to judge a situation, and use clever methods to influence others or change their perceptions is a strong skill. Social intelligence is important in situations where you need to quickly build up a relationship with others, such as in a sales role.

How to identify it…See how the candidate operates when they’re in an informal situation such as when you first meet them in reception, or when you ask them what they enjoy doing outside of work, to get a feel of how they perform ‘off script’.

4) Sensitivity to Others

Showing care and concern towards the feelings of others is another key strength that you need to look for in a candidate. It’s one of the most difficult things to identify at the interview stage, but

having an employee that takes complete credit for the work of others or confidently puts down the beliefs or actions of others by being highly judgemental, can be extremely demotivating for other employees.

How to identify it…Reviewing the candidate’s references very carefully will help you identify the kind of person they are. If you think the written reference isn’t giving you the answers you’re looking for, then give their previous employer a call and try to do a little more probing.

Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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