The crucial role soft skills play in the workplace is now more recognized, valued, and sought after in the corporate world than ever before. These non-technical qualities such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving can be more career-defining even than hard skills. Having strong emotional intelligence is of enormous benefit when it comes to interactions in the workplace, and it is often the “secret sauce” behind effective leadership and high-performing organizations.
As these qualities become more relevant and coveted in the modern-day workplace, knowing how to assess these skills is pivotal for HR professionals. This article explores the necessity of assessing soft skills, the difficulties encountered, and the crucial question: Can soft skills be measured?
The Importance of Soft Skills
Soft skills assessment is now a key part of the hiring process as HR professionals seek out the best fit for a role. These interpersonal strengths are invaluable for smooth interaction between team members, effective task execution, and adaptability in the face of unexpected changes.
Candidates with strong soft skills often exhibit a high degree of empathy, they are skilled in managing people, have a knack for strategic thinking, and often make natural leaders. So, when an organization actively seeks out and nurtures such talent, it is evidence of an innovative and agile company culture.
The Challenges of Assessment
Despite their importance, the business of assessing soft skills is often fraught with difficulties. Unlike hard skills, which can be readily validated through tests and/or qualifications, soft skills are less tangible and so more difficult to quantify. Candidates are also prone to exaggerating or inaccurately representing their soft skills during an interview, making the task of accurately gauging them even trickier.
Add to the mix an extra layer of complexity when also considering cultural variations: qualities valued as ‘essential soft skills’ in one cultural context might not be regarded in the same way in another. For example, assertiveness might be seen as a desirable trait in one environment, while in another, it might be perceived as aggressive or disrespectful. Therefore, assessing soft skills needs to be approached with a culturally sensitive lens.
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