What are soft skills questions to ask an applicant?

Soft skills questions to discover a person’s skill level…

After a yucky customer service experience, I began thinking about soft skills. Soft skills are very different from hard-core skills. See, hard skills directly correlate with the job.

For example, a cashier needs the skills to count cash and operate a cash register. But, that alone doesn’t make her a good employee, does it? I’ve created some soft skills questions, but first, let me lay the foundation.

Soft skills relate to not only the ability to do a job but how it gets done. Does that make sense? Leaders care about soft skills because they speak to how a person affects culture, gets along with people, and approaches tasks. Knowing the soft skills questions to ask can give you an idea of how a person will respond in a given situation.

Below is a list of soft skills and soft skill questions you can ask. Remember, every situation/jop/applicant is different so if you know the soft skill you’re exploring, you can easily frame the right question for that skill.

Listen to my podcast on Soft Skills

My terrible customer service experience – she needed soft skills

Now is a good time to tell you about my bad customer service experience. I went to a local Dollar Tree to pick up some miscellaneous items. You know how it is. Anyway, I walked to the counter, laid my items on the roller, and waited my turn. When it was my turn, the cashier just started ringing up my items. No greeting. No eye contact whatsoever. Actually, it made for a rather awkward few seconds.

I inquired whether or not she was having a bad day. She said she was not. I told her it seems she was because she didn’t even say hello or look me in the eye. Honestly, I don’t think she cared. It was OK. My day continued to be terrific in spite of her. These skills really matter. They matter.

Nevertheless, soft skills do make a difference. Think about it: if every single employee at the Dollar Tree store behaved like the cashier, eventually it would negatively impact the store image and eventually hit them in the pocket. Soft skills matter.

I think soft skills are, to some degree, even a bit more important than hard skills. Why? Because I think it’s easier to teach hard skills than it is to teach soft skills. You know, I can teach a person to use a computer program, but it’s difficult to teach them to have a strong work ethic or organizational ability. What do you think?

Interview soft skills questions

I designed a soft skills training and it was a blast!

My favorite soft skills training I’ve ever facilitated was several years ago at a local community college. The team was so incredibly open and flexible. They “ate up” each process and really ingested the data. Even after I followed up with my client months later, it seemed the training made an impact.

Check out my soft skills quiz

As you know I love training and creating resources.

During my time with my client, I created a soft skills quiz. Check it out by clicking the image below:

A simple soft skills quiz and soft skills questions you can ask

Another reason I absolutely loved working with this team was that they were one of the first clients to request soft skills training. That made them innovative and forward-thinking in my mind. I was determined to deliver quality resources that would impact long-term culture.

Personality and Soft Skills

It won’t surprise you that some soft skills come quite naturally to specific temperaments. For instance, the Blue temperament has an innate ability to leverage many of the soft skills employers value like communication. teamwork and flexibility and adaptability.

Clearly these are not the only soft skills, but if a staff member has these, they can acquire the others over time. In other words, they are likely to be professionally malleable.

Other soft skills include:

Leadership

Problem-solving

Creativity

Interpersonal skills

Time management

Negotiating

Strategic planning

Handling criticism

Analytic ability

Nonverbal communication

Persuasion

Public speaking

Visual communication

Writing skills

Artistic

Innovation

Resourcefulness

Thinking outside a box

Troubleshooting

Good listener

Willingness to learn

Managing difficult converstaions

Mentoring

Motivating

Supervising

Coaching

Facilitation

Confidence

Cooperation

Courtesy

Enthusiasm

Friendliness

Humorous

Patience

Respectability

Honesty

Intercultural competency

Influence

Self-Awareness

Networking

Dedication

Persistence

Planning

Leader and NOT a follower

Punctuality

Resilience

Self-managing

Following direction

Handling pressure

Meeting deadlines

Assertiveness

Emotion management

Independent/Self-directed

Technologically savvy

Life balance

A few soft skills questions you can ask during an interview or anywhere.

Soft Skills Questions

Some of these questions will help you discern a person’s soft skills. These soft skills questions are straight-forward, but some are design to test integrity as well.

Don’t ask leading questions. Leading questions “prime the pump” or as MediaCollege.com says “… subtly prompts the respondent to answer in a particular way.”

How to do manage stress?

Describe how you interact with coworkers?

What inhibits you from being successful?

Explain a time when you had to do something completely new or unfamiliar?

What do you find most important in a job experience?

When people challenge you intensely, what is your immediate response?

Give an example when you had to work with someone different from you. How did you manage that situation?

Tell me about a time you were angry at work, I mean really angry. What happened and how did you handle it?

Share a time when you had a serious problem at work and your manager wasn’t available.

Can you tell me about when something didn’t go according to plan? How did you handle it?

What happened when you worked with someone difficult to work with. How did you navigate the situation?

Tell me a time when you had to explain something to someone who couldn’t seem to understand.

Tell me about a time you enacted revenge on a colleague.

When did you get in your own way at work? How did you handle that?

What do you do to ensure a project meets it’s objectives?

Describe a project or situation that best illustrates your organization skills.

Share a time when you had to analyze a situation or process and make recommendations.

What steps do you take to figure out an appropriate course of action.

Give an example when you went completely out of your way to please a difficult customer/client.

Share a time you had to use written communication to get a point across.

When is the last time you thought outside of the box and how did you come to that conclusion.

Share a time you had to serve a customer you didn’t like.

Have you ever had to make a super quick decision? How did you decide what to do?

Tell me a time you had to “speak up” to your manager.

Share about a time when you felt honesty was NOT the best policy.

Tell me a time you made an unpopular decision on the job.

What is your greatest leadership experience (you as the leader.) Recall one you’re most proud of.

Have you ever been jealous of a colleague? Why and how did you handle it?

Tell me about a time you had a workplace setback. How do you handle that?

Share a time competition challenged you and how you managed it.

Describe an experience you felt your manager was completely wrong and how you dealt with it.

Have you ever worked for an unqualified manager? How did you handle that?


I hope these soft skills questions are useful. I’d love to learn from you. What is your “take” on soft skills? Can they all be acquired? Are they in reach for everyone?

I’ve also found a great article on Monster.com:
“Chameleons at work: How to identify soft skills and workers who can adapt” Read the article: https://hiring.monster.com/employer-resources/recruiting-strategies/talent-acquisition/soft-skills-hiring-strategy/

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See a list of soft skills and questions to ask and/or ponder.

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Leveraging the 4 personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace

What I do with the
4 personality types…

Leveraging the 4 personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace.  You can also learn how business personalities play a role in how you approach work and manage work personalities in general. I also answer the question” “how does personality influence communication at work?” Your temperament plays a role in everything. I love talking about it and exploring exactly how!

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