How to Assess a Job Applicant's Hard Skills & Soft Skills


By Stephanie Snyder

When it comes to hiring, employers should look for job applicants with the right hard and soft skills. While hard skills refer to a person's technical abilities or knowledge in specific areas, soft skills relate to interpersonal traits, such as communication and problem-solving. Assessing these qualities is key to finding the right job candidate to fit a given position. So how can employers assess a job applicant's hard and soft skills? Here are some tips.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are non-technical abilities, such as communication and problem-solving. They involve a job candidate's ability to understand people, adapt to changing situations, and build relationships with others. Soft skills can be essential when working in teams or interacting with customers.

How Do You Assess Soft Skills?

1. Ask the Applicant Questions About Their Previous Experiences

Asking applicants about their past experiences is a great way to assess their soft skills. Look for examples of when they have used these skills in the workplace or other situations. Pay close attention to how they answer your questions and take note of any examples that demonstrate their capabilities in communication, problem-solving, or teamwork.

2. Analyze Their Body Language During the Interview

Body language is often a great indicator of an applicant's soft skills. Pay attention to how they carry themselves during the interview and note any nonverbal cues that could give you an insight into their interpersonal or leadership abilities. For example, look for eye contact, strong postures, or confident handshakes.

3. Ask the Applicant to Explain How They Would Handle Situations

This is a great way to assess applicants' problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Give them scenarios that require them to think on their feet and explain how they would handle the situation. This can help employers better understand their soft skills and make a more informed hiring decision.

4. Ask for References

References can be a great way to gain insight into an applicant's soft skills. Ask if the job candidate has any colleagues they have worked with closely in the past who could provide further insight into their abilities. This can help employers get an honest and unbiased job candidate assessment.

5. Use Technology

Employers can also use technology to help assess a job candidate's soft skills. For example,talent acquisition tools like video interviewing or online assessments can help employers better understand how the applicant interacts with people, their problem-solving abilities, and more.

What Are Hard Skills?

Hard skills refer to a candidate's knowledge and technical abilities in specific fields. They involve a person's aptitude for coding, using software, or analyzing data. These skills can be essential for certain positions, such as engineering or finance roles.

How Do You Assess Hard Skills?

1. Ask the Applicant to Demonstrate Their Technical Abilities

This is often done through practical tests that ask the job candidate to solve a problem or complete a task related to the position they are applying for. For instance, if it's an IT role, you could ask them to write some code or debug an existing program.

2. Ask the Applicant to Provide Examples of Their Work

This can be a great way to assess an applicant's hard skills. Ask them to provide samples of their previous work, such as code they have written or data analysis they have carried out. This will give you an idea of their technical abilities and allow you to make a more informed decision.

3. Look for Certifications and Qualifications on Their Resume

An applicant's resume can also give employers an idea of their hard skills. Look for any certifications, degrees, diplomas, or specialized training that the job candidate has received in the past. This will help you get an understanding of their level of knowledge in different areas.

4. Tests

Employers can alsouse tests to assess a job candidate's hard skills. This could involve having the applicant take written or online tests related to the position they are applying for. This can be an effective way of evaluating their knowledge and technical abilities in different areas.

5. Ask for References

References can also provide valuable insight into an applicant's hard skills. Ask if the job candidate has colleagues, teachers, or former employers who could provide further information about their technical abilities and expertise in specific fields.


Assessing a job applicant's hard and soft skills is essential to the hiring process. Employers should use various methods, such as practice tests, interviews, references, and technology, to understand candidates' abilities and make informed decisions accurately. Using these approaches, employers can ensure they hire the best candidate for the job.

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