Job interview not best way to assess for soft skills, says LinkedIn report

A new report by LinkedIn Talent Solutions questions the effectiveness of the job interview as the best way to assess for soft skills.

The report criticises what has long been the standard approach as not fit for purpose, and goes on to make a number of suggestions as to how employers can better assess soft skills.

According to the ‘2019 Global Talent Trends’ report, while soft skills “have always been important, they are increasingly vital today”. As the report says, “a particular programming language may go out of fashion, but creativity, adaptability and collaboration skills will always be valuable”. And yet despite 80% of respondents agreeing that soft skills “are increasingly important to company success”, the report says that “many companies still struggle to accurately and consistently assess soft skills”.

A requirement for soft skills was one of four trends identified in the report. The others were flexible work, anti-harassment and pay transparency.

The report contends that the way most companies assess soft skills by relying on interviews and picking up on soft cues, such as “he seemed nervous, so he is probably not a good leader” – which 68% of talent professionals say is the main way they assess for soft skills – isn’t predictive of job performance. Also, a true reading can be undermined by well-rehearsed answers. Worse still, such methods are prone to bias.

The report was based on a survey of 5,164 talent professionals and hiring managers – all LinkedIn members – and an analysis of the LinkedIn profiles of more than 590m members in over 200 countries to reveal which soft skills are in most demand relative to supply. This found creativity was the most in-demand soft skill in short supply followed by persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management.

The report makes a number of suggestions on how employers can better assess for soft skills:

  • More project-based assessment as these showcase candidates’ soft skills in action.
  • Using tech-based assessments, such as Koru, Pymetrics and Plum that all use AI, which is less prone to bias.
  • Identify the skills your top performers share and those your business will need going forward.
  • Similarly identify and define the skills need for every role.
  • Standardise your interview questions. Behavioural and situational interview questions are effective but only when used consistently.
  • Ask problem-solving questions to see soft skills in action.

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