Don’t Make This Mistake Assessing Job Candidates | Lindsey Pollak's Blog

Don’t Make This Mistake Assessing Job Candidates

Strong GPA. Check.      

Impressive internship. Check.

The right technical certifications. Check.

Seems like you’ve found the perfect candidate. But before you make an offer, there’s one more area to assess that can make or break job performance — soft skills. According to a LinkedIn survey, more than 60 percent of hiring managers say these can be challenging to screen for.

Here are some tips to help you look past a potential employee’s pedigree to appraise these critical traits.

Make Sure The Candidate’s Values Align With Your Organization’s

“Companies need to recognize that even candidates with impeccable technical skills and training can fail to mesh with the corporate culture. Do what you can in advance to filter out these bad matches, whether through knock-out questions, early video screens, or in-person interviews. Just remember that all prospects can still be valuable to you through their referral potential, so avoid burning bridges when you can.” — Read more at Inc.

Assess Leadership Potential

“‘Tell me about the last time something significant didn’t go according to plan at work. What was your role? What was the outcome?’ Research shows that organizations with high quality leaders are 13x more likely to outperform their competition. Clearly, having people who can guide and drive change will be essential to your company’s success. Asking the above question on leadership lets you see how the candidate responds when something doesn’t go according to their plan at work. Did they come up with a solution to rectify the situation? Were they responsible for the failure and do they own that? Or do they pin it on someone else? The way that someone handles mistakes and setbacks says a lot about their leadership skills.” — Read more at LinkedIn.

Encourage References to Share Soft-Skills Related Stories

“Of course, you’ll want to ascertain that the candidate has the right technical skills, but inquiring about how they performed as a previous employee or coworker in certain scenarios can also provide a helpful third party perspective on a candidate’s soft skills. How did they interact with difficult associates? Can they give an example of how they solved a key business problem? How flexible were they when challenges arose or business priorities shifted?” — Read more at CIO.

There is No “I” In Teamwork

“Red flag a candidate who tells a story about how the group was useless until he or she rode in on a white horse and saved the day. First, this person hasn’t done the interview prep necessary to know you shouldn’t speak poorly of others. Second, it’s not a good sign if the story that comes to mind is one where he or she personally succeeded and the team failed. The ‘I’m smarter than everyone else’ response indicates both low self-awareness and poor propensity for teamwork. But what if the candidate is exceptional because the team was flailing and he or she saved the day? A candidate who works well with others will tell the story differently. He or she will include the merits of the other approaches and frame it more as a story that shows initiative, leadership, and creative thinking; rather than one about being the smartest person on the team.”  — Read more at The Muse.

How do you assess the soft skills of a potential employee? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!”

Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

  1. Hi Lindsey

    I think it’s important to assess the person’s ability to learn and if they have a growth mindset. I think in today’s times of ongoing change and the pressure on businesses to constantly reinvent themselves and their products, it’s important to assess for creativity and innovation.

  2. Kathi Newman says:

    I just went through a vigorous hiring of three individuals (whom are all millennials) in our pediatric practice. My tactic with these young people is to first make them feel welcomed and comfortable. I will go over the information they have presented to me and then will set the resume aside and just engage in dialogue. My questions comes up based on our conversation and their answers generally prompt other questions that do reveal the soft skill the possess. I will sit back and REALLY listen and observe them. This will reveal how the speak, how they interact, confidence or lack of, and most times you can tell if the things they speak of are genuine or not. When others are made to feel intimidated, or more nervous than they already are, you may not get a true sense of the person you are looking for.

  3. Lindsey, I’d say the ability to take initiative, go above and beyond for the organization, “own” their job roles completely, take responsibility for personal or team mistakes/errors, think outside the box, excellent attitude, and consistent growth mentality are just as important too.

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