Soft skills in the recruiting process

Soft skills in the recruiting process

Soft skills in the recruiting process

The personal skills of employees - so-called soft skills - are becoming increasingly important for companies. On the one hand, this is due to the shortage of skilled workers, which makes it more difficult to find personnel with the right skills. On the other hand, the world of work is also becoming increasingly international, and foreign certificates and credentials have varying degrees of significance. In contrast to hard skills, soft skills are much more difficult for recruiters to recognize. Find out more about the key points to look out for in the application process in this article.

Soft skills and hard skills: What are the differences?

Soft skills include all the individual traits and characteristics of a person with which he or she can enrich and support a work team. Hard skills, on the other hand, are learned skills and technical knowledge that are necessary for a specific job and are therefore usually included in the resume. For many companies, it is clear that the right mindset, i.e. the right soft skills, contribute significantly more to efficiency and workflow productivity than learned skills. But how can soft skills be identified and measured? Just because someone writes that they are motivated and a team player in their application doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the case.

An overview of the most important soft skills

In order to break down soft skills further, recruiters should first get an overview of the most important skills.

Motivation and willingness to learn

…are among the most important key abilities. If you are motivated, you can learn missing hard skills quickly and also have a good influence on the other team members.


…can take companies a long way. However, in order to innovate and generate fresh ideas, companies also need to offer their employees an environment that welcomes change.

Criticism and conflict management skills

…can ensure continuous improvements in the company. Those who are able to take criticism and deal with conflict well are prepared to engage with their environment and communicate openly.

Ability to work in a team

…is important for the dynamics of the company. Therefore, employees should be able to work well with others.

Analytical thinking

…is a soft skill that increases efficiency in everyday work and can also contribute to learning hard skills.

Stress Resistance

…enables employees to handle unfamiliar pressure or demanding situations with confidence.


…promotes cooperation within the company. Those who are empathetic can put themselves in the shoes of others. This is also an important soft skill for managers.


…benefits the leadership position. Employees with this soft skill can make decisions independently and take responsibility.


…is a prerequisite for the fast-paced professional world, where it is necessary to adapt and embrace change.

In addition to soft skills, there are also future skills. These are the personal qualities that will become increasingly important for companies in the next five years, regardless of sector or industry. Workers with Future Skills such as emotional intelligence, agile working methods or digital learning skills are already in particularly high demand.

Soft skills gap - steadily increasing

A growing gap is opening up between the expectations of employers and the actual skills of employees. This is also shown in a study by PayScale from 2016: 87% of university graduates in the USA think they are now ready for working life, but only 50% of HR managers agree. This is often due to a lack of soft skills, which graduates consider less important, despite it playing a significant role in professional practice. By ensuring that soft skills are systematically taught to employees, managers can bridge the soft skills gap.

Soft skills in recruiting: Making skills measurable

To make soft skills measurable, concrete behaviors must be decoded. Depending on the position, different behaviors may be necessary. For example, a project manager must be able to communicate well with their project team, whereas the ability to think analytically is more important for an IT employee. These required soft skills can be defined for each position. Recruiters can ask themselves what requirements employees need to fulfill in order to have certain soft skills attributed to them. For example, “What would an employee need to do to be perceived as flexible?” - “They would need to respond calmly and confidently to unexpected difficulties.” In this way, soft skills can be broken down using specific examples. A kind of sample list can be recorded, which can be adapted depending on the department and the position, enabling efficient recruiting.

Recognizing soft skills in the application process

Recognizing the social and personal skills of applicants in an unfamiliar and exciting situation such as a job interview can be complicated for recruiters. It is often very helpful to ask potential employees questions about their professional history. For example, asking what situations were stressful and challenging in the last job will likely tell you more about their resilience than asking how the person handles stressful situations in general. However, there are also some points in the resume that provide information about the soft skills of applicants.

  • Independently completed education courses indicate initiative, a willingness to learn and motivation

  • Experience abroad shows that a person is open-minded and flexible, enjoys learning new things and can organize themselves well.

  • Social commitment stands for a sense of responsibility and empathy

Capturing soft skills

A suitable software can help recruiters keep track of both hard and soft skills of candidates. The soft skills required for a position, as defined by the sample list, can be recorded in the job description and compared to the applicant’s respective skills. In addition, recruiters can also record soft skills in candidates’ profiles so that they are stored in the talent pool. CV parsing can also be helpful in identifying and capturing soft skills. With the automated analysis of CVs, information such as social commitment or experience abroad can be identified by means of a keyword search - and recruiters already have initial indications of the desired skills.

Conclusion: The importance of soft skills is growing rapidly

The significance of personal qualities is becoming increasingly important considering factors such as the shortage of skilled workers and digitization. However, recognizing these key abilities in the application process is not that simple for recruiters. Recruiting software can help break down, measure and record soft skills into concrete behaviors. The cloud software of aiFind is made by recruiters and therefore tailored exactly to the needs of the HR department.

Contact us to learn more about soft skill analysis and modern recruiting.