With technology and professional recruiters making it easier than ever for job seekers to find and connect with companies, hiring managers have no small task of wading through incoming applications.
In fact, one in four hiring managers have reported that it's harder (or much harder) to find top talent now than it was just a year ago, according to PwC data*. However, the difficulty isn't entirely due to the quantity of applications they have to review. Few applicants are prepared to put their hat in the ring without a relevant degree, at least.
The bigger challenge comes down to assessing candidates' soft skills.
Soft skills' importance in the modern workplace
Australia's workforce is not demanding the same hard skills as it was 10 years ago, and its requirements will continue to evolve in the next 10 years and beyond. This ever changing landscape is the exact reason soft skills are just as important, if not more, than the harder skills earned with a degree.
In order to adapt to whatever a new generation of work brings, you need to have employees with soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and creativity, according to a report produced by the Foundation for Young Australians*. An employee who truly understands these skills is the one that can grow and take on the jobs of the future.
But soft skills don't necessarily jump off a CV like the name of a degree or prior work experience does – so how can you figure out if prospective employees possess these skills?
How to test for soft skills
The only real way to ensure a candidate has soft skills to suit your company is to ask them the right questions.
Testing for critical thinking/creativity: Have you ever had to make a decision without all the information?
Not every solution is black and white in business. Someone who can think critically will explain how they assessed the situation, and someone who thinks creatively will then demonstrate how they executed their solution, particularly in an innovative way.
Testing for problem solving: When was the last time you had to ask for help?
No one is perfect, especially not a recent graduate just entering the workforce, so someone who can't recall a time they've asked for help might be hiding something or may be inflexible to work with. The candidate with problem solving skills will be able to articulate their mistake as well as what they learned from it.
Testing for teamwork: When was the last time you worked in a group? How did it go?
The key word here is teamwork. If a candidate's answer discussing a time a group was falling apart before they came in and saved the day, they aren't talking about a success, they're talking abut a failure, and that's a red flag. A person who truly possesses teamwork skills will talk about their place in the group, but also how the group worked as a whole.
Monash Talent understands that finding the right talent can be challenging, so we want to help. We combine your unique requirements with our profiling technology to place graduates from Monash University, so you know you're getting some of the brightest minds looking to do great work. To learn more about how we can help with your recruiting efforts, contact our team today.
*PwC (2017). Infographic: Calling all soft skills.
*Foundation for Young Australians (2016). The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order.