The best soft skills assessment to identify top talent

A woman showcasing her soft skills surrounded by images of a light bulb, two hands holding, a checklist and verbal communication

Raise your hand if you've ever hired someone, only to find out they weren't a good match for the role. Guess how much those well-intentioned but misguided decisions are costing your business? CareerBuilder gives it a price tag of nearly US$17,000 on average1 and that's just for one bad hire.

Businesses can't afford to make mistakes like those in the hiring process. Especially in today's tough economy. Couple that with staff turnover struggles, and you've got a hiring and retention problem that needs fixing ASAP.

Thankfully, there is a scientifically proven approach you can take to solving these problems. Savvy companies around the world use a soft skills assessment, like the one offered by Fingerprint For Success (F4S), to attract and retain the right talent.

Below, we'll provide proof that these, when used correctly, actually work. Plus, we'll show you how to maximize the benefits of a soft skills assessment.

Table of contents
What is a soft skills assessment?
What are the benefits of soft skills assessments?
How to conduct a soft skills assessment in the workplace
5 most effective soft skills assessment tools and platforms
How to improve the process of assessing soft skills?
Is a soft skills assessment the one piece missing from your recruitment and retention strategies?

What is a soft skills assessment?

A soft skills assessment asks respondents questions that predict how they will react in real work situations.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the non-technical abilities that influence the way we interact with others and approach problems. They're also known as people skills or interpersonal skills, and they're not easily quantifiable.

Examples of soft skills include interpersonal communication, empathy, listening, and conflict resolution.

Hard skills, by contrast, are technical skills directly related to a job, such as computer programming, physics, statistics, and product management. Hard skills are quantifiable and can easily be measured.

Why assess soft skills?

Because they affect your relationships, both professionally and personally. Soft skills are crucial to success. It doesn't matter how much technical knowledge you have if you lack effective communication skills and the ability to collaborate.

For instance, you could be a brilliant computer programmer, but if you lack the empathy to understand how the software you're building will affect the end user, the teamwork skills to collaborate with your development team members, and the interpersonal skills to understand what your project manager is asking of you, it'll be tough to succeed.

Assessing soft skills during the hiring process, therefore, is a crucial part of building a stronger team. It allows hiring managers to make better decisions during the interview process. It also allows people managers to understand the strengths and blind spots of each direct report so they can leverage strengths and grow in the areas that need improvement. Cognitive diversity among team members strengthens business outcomes. And who wouldn't want that?

Common soft skills employers want to assess

What are the benefits of soft skills assessments?

The benefits of soft skills assessments include making more informed hiring decisions, an increase in productivity and job performance, improving team dynamics and more engaged employees.

two staff members high five showing the benefits of soft skills assessment for team dynamics and engagement

More informed hiring decisions

Because soft skills affect job performance, the use of pre-employment assessments is highly valued for its ability to help you make better decisions when it comes to hiring. According to research by SHRM, more than half of employers use assessments to gauge a candidate's skills. Further, 79% of them say that skills assessments are equally as important, or more important, than other hiring criteria.2

Higher employee productivity

When you know where each individual's strength lies, you can leverage that to place them in the right role and assign them the right tasks. And when you understand their blind spots, you can better target them with the right coaching and training to improve. In one University of Michigan study,3 workers who received soft skills training boosted productivity by 12%.

Improved job performance

Many research studies have shown that soft skills development changes employee behavior4 and improves the performance of employees. By performing a soft skills assessment test you can target blind spots with coaching and training to improve on-the-job performance. This is key to determining someone's long-term success!

Improved team dynamics

A soft skill measurement can also help you better manage your workforce for improved team dynamics. For example, if one team member has a reading learning style (meaning they need to read research papers and facts before making a decision), and another team member has a kinesthetic learning style (meaning they are convinced by rolling up their sleeves and trying something), you can use that to the team's advantage.

While those may seem like opposing traits, they affect stronger decision-making because they complement each other. Essentially, one person's blind spot is supported by the other person's strength. People managers who have these deep insights into candidates can optimize the situation so the team environment is healthier.

Read our guide on how to run a team dynamics workshop.

Greater employee engagement

Gallup's research into human behaviors and strengths, reveals that employees who use their strengths daily are 6 times more likely to be engaged at work. What's more, Gallup writes:

‘When employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, perform better, and are less likely to leave their company.’

Reduced staff turnover

Here's a real-world example of this: In her book HR Disrupted, Lucy Adams describes how reward consultancy organization NextJump improved its hiring process and the quality of its potential candidates.

By dedicating years to observing its top employees, the company was able to identify the number one quality that they all shared: humility. Knowing this, it designed a 45-minute interview to find out candidates' levels of humility. By doing so, staff turnover dropped drastically from 40% to 1%!

How to conduct a soft skills assessment in the workplace

a skills assessment is like a putting together a puzzle to find the right fit for the team

Conduct pre-employment assessments

Adding a soft skill assessment to your hiring process is a wise way to ensure you're finding the best candidate for each position. Before investing time and resources into interviewing someone who wouldn't be a great fit for the role, you can send a link to the assessment as a screening tool.

Have current employees use a soft skill assessment tool

But a soft skills test isn't just for job candidates, it's for current employees too! Remember, these assessments aren't for punishing people who get the ‘wrong’ results. Rather, they're essential tools for finding out ways you can boost employee engagement by aligning their strengths with their tasks.

You can also ensure they feel a sense of belonging and competence on their team, as you'll be able to leverage their strengths on projects and in groups.

That's exactly how tech unicorn and graphic design platform Canva uses F4S for its current employees. The results from the assessment drive more productive one-on-ones and growth and development conversations. Canva even uses the F4S platform to better serve its employees through internal coaching programs.

Ask behavioral interview questions

Yet another way to assess the soft skills of candidates is through behavioral interview questions. These questions seek to learn how someone acted in a situation in the past. For example, you might ask, ‘Tell me about a time when you were given a task, but you didn't have the resources to complete it.’ Or, ‘Describe a situation from your past where you were in conflict with someone at work. How did you resolve it?’ Their answers demonstrate the soft skills they have.

Observe how an employee responds to a situation in real-time

Of course, instead of asking someone to describe a situation you weren't there to witness, you could also observe a situation in real time. This is particularly useful for managers to see how teams interact.

5 most effective soft skills assessment tools and platforms

Fingerprint for Success (F4S)

F4S is more than just a soft skills measurement tool, it's an entire performance and collaboration platform. We offer a free assessment based on 20+ years of motivation research. From there, you can access a detailed report in your personalized dashboard, along with recommendations and deeper insight to help you grow in the areas you want to improve on. F4S also offers AI-powered coaching programs through Coach Marlee.

F4S team dashboard shows team preferences
F4S team dashboard

Price: F4S has a free forever plan that grants you access to our evidence-based soft skills assessment and one AI coaching program. Access to more features, such as unlimited AI coaching, on the Team plan starts at US$11.99/user/month (billed annually)

When to use: F4S is useful across the entire employee lifecycle. This includes the recruitment process, hiring, onboarding, employee retention, new team formation, and conflict resolution.

Accelerate understanding between teams

Breadth

An illustration of a woman holding a circle object on her hand.

Motivated by macro big picture thinking, these teammates value moving quickly to connect dots between abstract ideas to 'get the gist' of things.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

vs

Depth

An illustration of a woman holding and using a protractor on her right hand.

These teammates value being concrete and specific, getting into details to understand the steps or tasks required.

Chart showing rage from Average, High and Ver High.

See the different work styles in your team

Take the free assessment & set up your team

TestGorilla

TestGorilla conducts online talent assessments for employers to make better hiring decisions based on skills in candidates. The company employs a psychometrics team to ensure the scientific validity of its tests, which are also peer-reviewed. TestGorilla also measures personality traits through popular personality tests, including the Big 5.

Price: Prices start at US$85/month for companies with 1-15 employees. TestGorilla does offer a free plan for you to try out some of their tests.

When to use: Recruitment process, hiring pipeline

HighMatch

HighMatch provides assessment products across the employee lifecycle, from pre-employment tests to employee development. The company uses psychologists to ensure the products are research-backed. HighMatch offers personality assessments that measure personality traits including assertiveness, leadership skills, risk tolerance, objectivity, and sense of urgency.

Price: HighMatch doesn't publish prices on its website, so you have to contact the company for a quote.

When to use: Hiring, retention, DEI

iMocha

iMocha prides itself on helping companies become skills-first organizations by providing tests for both hiring and upskilling employees. Its current tests library represents 2,500+ different professional skills

Price: iMocha has various plans but does not publish pricing on its website. However, you can start a free trial and contact the company for pricing details.

When to use: Hiring, upskilling

Pymetrics

Pymetrics is one of the more popular gamified assessments and measures soft skills such as numerical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, risk tolerance, and decision-making. It's often used to assess potential hires in an applicant pool before or during the interview process.

Price: To find out pricing, you have to contact Pymetrics.

When to use: Recruitment process, hiring

How to improve the process of assessing soft skills?

Use a standardized and evidence-based test

Sure, you can assess someone's people skills by asking them or observing them, but by doing so, you introduce a lot of bias. That's why a standardized test, one that's administered in the same way with the same questions, is the smarter route. Ensure the test is evidence-based so it has the scientific rigor to ensure unbiased hiring. When choosing a vendor, ask how they designed the test and find out if it's backed by science.

Take inventory of your current top performers in key roles

Different roles require different soft skill sets, that's pretty obvious. What's less clear, is exactly which key skills drive success in each role at an organization. Companies are unique, as are their top performers. That's why F4S developed the XFactor Model that we can custom-build for a specific role at a specific organization.

We analyze the soft skills of your low, medium, and high performers and build a road map for how you can continue to hire and train high performers at your organization.

F4S xfactors shows how you align with venture success
F4S XFactors

Pay attention to how you write job descriptions and where you recruit

With your XFactor Model in hand, you're equipped to write exact job descriptions and recruit via the sources that will attract high performers. Using advertising keywords that include the essential skills you're looking for will ensure you garner applicants who have a higher chance of career success in the role. And from there, you can always use the free F4S assessment to ensure that the potential candidates have what it takes to succeed. It's a win-win!

Is a soft skills assessment the one piece missing from your recruitment and retention strategies?

From boosting productivity to reducing turnover, research has proven that soft skills are crucial. Measuring a job applicant’s or employee's soft skills provides deep insight into how they will respond to certain situations and is an indicator of their long-term career success.

And while you can ask about hypothetical situations during a behavioral interview or have peers describe their coworker in a review, the truth is, if you're not measuring, you're merely guessing.

Get the soft skills assessment that's based on 20+ years of research on work motivations

If you want an assessment that provides accurate evaluations of every team member's soft skills as well as their professional development opportunities, F4S is the leading platform. Trusted by the likes of tech giant Canva, F4S is easy to set up, and best of all, you and your entire team can find out your soft skill results free of charge!

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1. Goldberg B, 75% Of Employers Have Hired the Wrong Person, Here’s How to Prevent That', CareerBuilder, https://resources.careerbuilder.com/news-research/prevent-hiring-the-wrong-person

2. SHRM, 2022, New SHRM Research Makes the Case for Skills-Based Hiring, SHRM, https://www.shrm.org/about-shrm/press-room/press-releases/pages/new-shrm-research-makes-the-case-for-skills-based-hiring.aspx

3. Guest G, 2017, Soft skills training boosts productivity, University of Michigan News, https://news.umich.edu/soft-skills-training-boosts-productivity/

4. Deshpande S and Munshi M, 2020, The Impact of Soft Skills Training on the Behavior and Work Performance of Employees in Service Organizations, IUP Journal of Soft Skills, https://www.proquest.com/openview/e78a6f5ff61214391f5a8957dab8363d/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2029989

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