In my career as a CEO and serial entrepreneur, I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges in hiring the right employee is to assess their mastery of what are called “soft skills.” These skills aren’t specific bullets, like the ability to write cross-platform mobile apps or create enticing SharePoint pages. Soft skills are the ability to communicate, work in a team, keep a positive attitude, and act like a professional. My guess is that there’s not a hiring manager out there that doesn’t have stories about candidates that looked great on paper but would never fit into the corporate culture. I know I have a few.
Soft skills are a hot topic in HR nowadays; even the U.S. Department of Labor has thoughts on the subject. Candidates can’t just master the hard skills – they need to fit in and play well with others. One way to help screen seemingly equal candidates is to conduct video interviews, which often reveal soft skills right away.
HireArt recently surveyed 100 job seekers, and their top complaint was that the hiring process lacked empathy – a key soft skill. Those surveyed said they didn’t feel like they were treated as much more than a number, and it caused them to wonder what other soft skills might be lacking at that workplace. In a hot economy with lots of options, those applicants will probably cross that company off their list.
On the other side of that equation, employers face a big challenge in determining the soft skills present in an applicant’s resume and cover letter. All the standard templates contain boilerplate text trying to assure anyone reading that the individual is a team player or top-notch collaborator. I’ve probably used a few of those buzzwords myself a time or two. Who hasn’t? We all just want to get to that interview stage, where we can look people in the eye and show our passion and enthusiasm.
By inserting a video application step in the process, some companies now excel in evaluating candidates for the desired soft skills. Here is a successful paradigm from a web-tech organization that has initiated video interviews, and enjoys not only rapid growth but also high retention rates:
“We interview a large number of people,” our expert reported. “It’s critical to evaluate them on both their soft and hard skills, especially for our customer service positions. The hard skills are easy to pick up from a resume or CV, but for the soft skills, we used to have a lot of face-to-face interviews. That process was taking an inordinate amount of time, because we were interviewing huge groups of people during the beginning of the screening process. Sometimes it would take us 30 minutes just to find out that a great-looking candidate was not qualified based on their soft skills.”
“Now we use a more rigorous application process, which requires the candidate to share a wider range of initial information. That is supplemented with a video interview, which helps us further screen the candidate. Just by reviewing the video, we have reduced our screening time from 30 minutes to 5 minutes, per candidate. Of course, the video is still not a true personal touch. So if we qualify a candidate with a video interview, we supplement that with a phone or in-person interview to help us make the right hiring decision. Yes, this still means our recruiters are spending more time interviewing, but at least we know the candidates have passed one round of reviews. When a candidate is not appropriate, we now tailor our rejection emails to be more human. The process helps us maintain our people and customer-centric culture and it shores up our retention rates, which are as high as 97% in some of our offices.”
Adding video capabilities can be a huge advantage, because it allows you to assess the complete package of skills, hard and soft. With a more balanced hiring process, you can get a better idea for how a candidate might fit in. We all know how crucial each and every hire can be, so anything you can do to improve your odds is a good thing.