Hire with the Whole Person in Mind. 

When you’re in the hiring process, it’s easy to focus on a resume whose skills and experiences match the job description. But if you rely solely on those aspects, you’re going to miss other qualities and important facts about the candidate that are critical factors for long-term employment success. Specifically, consider other “soft” yet vital skills such as dependability, interpersonal relations, and communication. Overlooking these competencies may cause you to hire the wrong candidate — sacrificing social skill and teamwork for raw skill or experience. Those things are important, but you want to hire the one who can get the job done and contribute to their team’s excellence as well.

A candidate’s soft skills are often overlooked because trickier to ascertain and assess. You often have to get creative, or even do a little digging to uncover a candidate’s value as a team member, but it’s critical to ascertain more than just the facts written up on a resume.

Here are three tips for unearthing what you need to know:

1. Outline what vital soft skills are needed for the job.
Before you even start interviewing for the position, create (and examine) the job description, and define those desired competencies. Then, plan for and prepare interview questions that will target the items you need to know. If your candidate must have solid problem-solving skills, ask for examples of challenges in that individual’s past, and how those challenges were resolved. If you’re curious about their communication skills, perhaps ask about a previous conflict with a co-worker and how that situation was managed.

2. Note verbal and nonverbal behavior.
You can learn a lot about a person just by watching and listening to them when they talk. If you’re hiring someone for a sales position, make a list of body language or verbal skills that you feel are important to the success of the job. Does the person smile, look you in the eye, and take turns talking? Or, does the candidate appear rigid, cast eyes downward when speaking, and blurt out answers in a hurry? These cues can let you know whether or not your candidate can relate to others in a confident manner, build rapport, and find quick trust with the client.

3. Use reference checks to dig and discover.
During the interview, ask questions that go beyond small talk. Get to the heart of the candidate’s personality and find out what sorts of behaviors you can expect. Remember, too, that whatever the candidate did in his or her last job will be a pretty good indicator of future performance. Make sure you explore conflicts and difficult issues from their previous job in depth, talking with their references about any potential weaknesses. Plan ahead and ask questions that deliver a clearer picture of what you can expect.


What are some additional strategies for ensuring accurate reference checks
and collecting critical information?

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