High performance and long-term success isn't simply due to technical skills – talent and/or experience aren't all that beneficial to an organization on its own unless it can contribute effectively to the overall company mission. The best all-around employees are the ones who possess soft skills and emotional intelligence in addition to their expertise.
Soft skills are less tangible abilities that aren't necessarily honed through experience, such as communication, teamwork and time management, while emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to recognize their own emotions and those of others, and control their reactions accordingly. Learn more about what topics to focus on to interview for soft skills and high emotional intelligence.
Many talented employees end up being unable to adapt during times of organizational change, and push back or flounder. During an interview, ask candidates about examples of times in which they have had to deal with organizational change, and how they did so.
Regardless of how autonomous a particular role may seem, the employee will eventually have to work in some fashion with a colleague or superior. A common reason that highly qualified candidates end up being bad hires is because they are unable to work well with others. Have candidates discuss instances in which they had to work closely in a team to get a sense of how well they collaborate.
What separates those with excellent soft skills and emotional intelligence is typically their personal values. It takes effort and discipline to hone these qualities, and since they are more subtle, there often isn't much of an outward incentive to do so; therefore, people with these traits tend to have them because of deeply held personal values. Ask candidates who inspires them to ascertain the values they respect most.
Potential and natural talent can only go so far without the ability to also recognize their own shortcomings. Candidates with soft skills and emotional intelligence tend to be that way due to their own self-awareness. Ask candidates to talk about their professional areas for improvement. If a candidate can't think of any, it's likely they lack the self-awareness needed for long-term growth.
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