hunteed Blog

Soft skills are key to a company's recruitment process

 • Updated on 01 february 2022

Here's what a typical job posting looks like when you look at the "Required Profile":

The required candidate profile looks like this:

  • Master's degree in Urban Engineering;
  • Proficiency in urban planning computer tools such as 3D imaging;
  • Strong adaptability and ability to work under tight deadlines;
  • Good communication skills and ability to work in a team;
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills; 
  • Sense of responsibility and leadership;
  • Creative and imaginative to suggest new ideas ... ".

The required skills can be separated into two categories:

  1. First, technical skills, often recognized by a certificate (engineering and mastery of tools). They are also called hard skills, or in other words "demonstrable" skills.
  2. Second, human skills, which are more difficult to assess, now referred to as soft skills (personal aptitudes such as communication skills).

The proportion of soft skills required is much higher than that of hard skills: this indicates that there is an increased focus on the candidate's personality-related abilities.

In fact, "46% of new hires fail within the first 18 months and 89% of them fail for reasons related to their attitude". (Source: Leadership IQ magazine study)


As a result, recruiters are paying more attention to this matter and are more inclined to look for THE candidate with THE best personality, rather than the one who simply has the required technical skills.

Having the appropriate soft skills for a job is now required for a candidate who wants to find a job. Modern companies also consider it a minimum requirement if they want to stand out from the crowd and survive.

What are soft skills

There are three different types of skills:

  • Hard skills can be described as know-how, i.e. all the knowledge and skills acquired through training;
  • Life skills are acquired during our career and can be used in our daily lives;
  • Soft skills refer to attitudes and character traits. These skills most often relate to emotional intelligence and are evaluated according to a person's behavioural capacity to face a given situation.

Soft skills examples:

Here are some examples of soft skills needed for a person to succeed, especially in a professional environment:

communication, leadership, time management, interpersonal skills, priority setting, teamwork, empathy, flexibility, curiosity, creativity, negotiation, dynamic, listening skills, ...



Why should you care about soft skills first?

5 Reasons:


1) Hard skills are useless without soft skills

For example, even if a person excels in accounting, his expertise is worthless if he cannot manage his time and cannot deliver the accounts on time.

Soft skillsare harder to acquire

A training course, an internship or even a few online courses are usually enough to address the lack of a technical skill. Soft skills have more to do with a person's personality: if they don't have the trait, it's harder to develop it in them. In fact, acquiring an attitude requires a conscious effort, uninterrupted practice, and an unfailing commitment from the concerned individual.

Soft skills are essential for employees, but also for clients

Employees and clients ask for the same things: attentiveness, empathy, full attention, the ability to suggest effective solutions in a timely manner. The ability to fit into the company's environment is more important than technical skills. Soft skills are the guarantee for optimal work capacity.


4) Soft skills guarantee the survival of the company

A company's productivity and efficiency are enhanced when it has a good leader and its members are constantly communicating with each other. Two soft skills alone can bring good results. For example, a company with a person who knows how to adapt and manage at the same time already has a candidate to open a new branch and transfer its corporate culture.

Moreover, soft skills such as curiosity, creativity and constant awareness are crucial for a company to innovate and stay on the market.


5) Short- and long-term benefits:

In all departments and functions, employees need to improve their interpersonal skills, especially to strengthen team dynamics and cohesion. However, this is only one part of the so-called soft skills that are essential to have in the workplace. Here are some benefits that underline the importance of developing soft skills at work, both in the short and long term.

  • Boosting productivity at work
  • Reduce risk
  • Improve customer service
  • Increase sales
  • Build a stronger team
  • More confidence, less stress
  • Improve employee retention

Soft skills into practice

Here are a few soft skills examples by profession and the difference between Gen X and Millennials.

Soft skills for executives and decision makers in general:

  • Leadership, charisma, including communication skills and listening skills
  • Adaptability, agility, creativity, calculated risk-taking, problem management
  • Benevolence, empathy - to help others progress

Soft skills in operational and labour tasks (some believe that only hard skills are needed at this level):

  • Curiosity and creativity (help to improve the existing system, e.g. clothing factory)
  • A specific profession: the soft skills needed for an accountant.

This job doesn't usually require interpersonal skills, nor does it require anything other than. However, having the right people skills makes all the difference:

  • Adaptability allows the accountant to move from one system to another, especially with e-accouting;
  • Stress management skills are needed, as this job is known to be particularly nerve-wracking ;
  • The ability to work as a team, so that the company's finances fit with the rest of the company's activities.

Soft skills : Différence selon les générations

Soft skills are owned and valued differently from one generation to another. Here are some examples:

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1941 and 1961) are considered idealistic and preach family values, union and cohesion within a group and have started to associate work and social life ;
  • Gen X (born between 1961 and 1981), faced with job shortage, is dynamic, proactive, rejects authoritarianism and demands leadership, competitiveness and self focus ;
  • Gen Y (born between 1981 and 1999), which emerged at the same time as the internet, is more emancipated, demanding towards the job (employers must also stand out), creative, critical and seeks to break the routine.

soft skills align between generations?

Given these differences, it is quite likely that there will be generational conflicts in the workplace. Soft skills are part of a person’s attitude and ignoring these differences could be dangerous for the well-being of the social environment.

However, these generational traits can also be seen as complementary:

  • Baby boomers can coach younger people with their experience and sense of cohesion and belonging.
  • Gen X can boost a company's productivity.
  • Gen Y brings fresh ideas and innovation.


The key to success is an environment and training that encourages mutual respect and empathy within the group. People need to understand that we are different and that these differences are an asset - as Robert Quillent confirms when he says, "Debate is an exchange of knowledge, and argument is an exchange of emotions."

Read our article on what millennials expect

How do you assess soft skills in an interview?

Soft skills are essential. However, detecting them during the recruitment process is difficult. In fact, a "right answer" to a question doesn't guarantee that the desired character trait is present.

Traditional tools such as an interview with standardized questions have shown their limits. Other tools such as simulation games in the real workplace are expensive and the returns on investment are not guaranteed.

Grid tool:

Another tool used by many recruiters is a analysis grid, which is a simple yet effective system. It involves precisely listing the qualities required by the employer for a position. The grid is then used in the rating sheet assigned to each candidate. 

A pre-interview test, confirmed by the interview, is needed to give a "-", "+", "++" or "+++" rating. More practical and precise questions can be asked.

For example, these questions could be asked like this:

  • For team spirit: "You're the only one who disagrees with the team's decision. What will you do?
  • For leadership: "A team member leaves the group, followed by another. How will you respond ?
  • For empathy: "A newcomer is excluded by the rest of the team. Will you intervene?
  • For public speaking, the focus will not be on questions but on getting candidates to demonstrate their speaking skills. The movie "The Wolf of Wall Street" gives a good example, which can be used during interviews: in this case, the goal was to sell a pencil in 4 to 5 sentences.


How to develop a team's soft skills?

An established team often lacks specific soft skills, or misjudges a person's abilities. Candidates may also realize that they lack certain skills when they already land the job. Developing soft skills is not easy, but it is possible.

  • Good practices on a daily basis: encourage a culture of feedback, break the routine, allow decisions to be made, reward effort ;
  • Soft skills training: this can be a training session in personal development, specific training for each soft skill that you want to develop, theatrical training, or using a manager or coach.

What is a soft skills manager or coach?

An external person, expert in the field, assisting a person to develop the needed soft skills - or a small group.

This coaching aims to :

  • Define the goals that the person or group wants to achieve;
  • List the soft skills that need to be corrected to reach these objectives;
  • Schedule and organize a workshop over several weeks with theoretical courses and practical exercises.

What type of position should be coached

All departments can benefit from soft skills coaching: HR team, sales, managers or even workers can all find it useful. Rather, a "need-based" approach is required, i.e. determining which part of the company requires an upgrade in human skills.

How to evaluate the return on investment of a soft skills coaching?

The return on investment can be measured in the same way as any other training a company provides to its employees:

  1. An evaluation at the end of the training to determine the learners' satisfaction level;
  2. An evaluation test;
  3. An evaluation of the skills’ effectiveness in the field (by means of performance scores, improved work environment, customer feedback, etc.)

An evaluation of the return on investment, quantified or not, calculated in relation to the company's initial needs (before the training).

Example: Better communication between the production and marketing managers had an impact on the website's content relevance, based on the conversion rate recorded on the website following this change. The soft skill developed at the beginning was mainly focused on communication.


Benefits of using Hunteed to find the right candidates: 

Hunteed is a digital platform for executive search. This solution allows you to broadcast your job offers to a community of recruitment consultants, specialized in various fields of expertise. Recruitment consultants are in charge of finding the right candidates for your company, according to your criteria in both hard and soft skills.

In terms of soft skills, Hunteed offers the following advantages:

  • Recruitment consultants are specialized in specific professions. They know the soft skills needed for a position and how to spot them;
  • Hunteed works closely with recruiting companies: an in-house team is dedicated to supporting and monitoring clients on a regular basis to help guide the recruitment consultants as needed;
  • Hunteed requires its partner recruitment consultants to meet and qualify candidates for the relevant position.