When evaluating a high level candidate, it’s vitally important to assess their hard skills – e.g. those skills that are specific, teachable and can be measured. But are you also taking their soft skills into account? If you’re not, then you could be missing out on an opportunity to hire the best fit candidate.

As leading headhunters in Northern California, Pacific ExecSearch knows that soft skills can be hard to measure and evaluate; however, it’s a critical step in the screening process…especially when you’re hiring for leadership positions. So what are some of the top ones to be looking for – and how do you screen candidates for them? Here are some tips to help you get started:

#1: Communication skills.

Every leadership position requires strong communication skills, whether it’s in sales, engineering, project management, administration, or another area entirely. Without strong communication skills, managers can’t build strong teams.

To assess writing skills, carefully review the candidate’s cover letter and resume. Did they make sense? Were they clear and concise? Was the grammar and usage correct? Were they articulate and persuasive?

Likewise, for verbal skills, listen for candidates who go beyond the simple “yes” and “no” during the interview and offer detailed, well thought out answers to your questions. Ask questions such as:

  • “Tell me about your most challenging project;”
  • “Tell me about a time you made a mistake on the job;” and
  • “Tell me about your biggest professional accomplishment.”

Not only will these help you assess their strengths and fit for the job, but you’ll also gain a much stronger sense of whether or not they are a good communicator.

#2: Social skills.

Managers need strong social skills to be great bosses. Through them, they can learn about and get to know their employees and what motivates and inspires them. Most candidates will answer in the affirmative about whether or not they like working with people or have strong social skills. So to dig deeper and reveal the true nature of the candidate, ask questions such as “How would your past employees describe you?” or “What was your relationship like with the last team you managed?”

#3: Integrity.

When it comes to management positions, integrity and honesty are critically important to screen for. Not only are executives managing your most important asset – people – but they also have access to sensitive financial and company information. To evaluate a candidate’s level of integrity, ask interview questions such as “What would you do if someone asked you to do something unethical on the job?” or “Are there any types of business situations in which honesty wouldn’t be inappropriate?”

In addition to screening for the soft skills above, be sure to conduct personality tests or behavioral assessments to ensure a candidate will fit with the culture and has the capability to become an asset to the company. The test results can help you understand whether a candidate is really an “A” player, or just pretending to be one during interviews.

Do you need more help evaluating soft skills and hiring top executives? Call Pacific ExecSearch. As leading headhunters in Northern California, our team of recruiters has extensive experience in sourcing, evaluating and helping companies hire and retain mission critical professionals for top positions. To learn more about how we can help your organization, please contact us today.