Creating impact job descriptions is a big investment for hiring managers upfront, so asking good soft skills interview questions that map to those descriptions is important in order to maximize that investment.
The good news is that candidates find impact descriptions to be incredibly thoughtful, so asking meaningfully focused interview questions would continue down that same path, fulfilling their expectations.
The below impact job description for a Lever Software Engineer guides us on a sample interviewing journey.
For the sake of focus, we’ll center the conversation around soft skills that Lever exemplifies in their innovative, people-first culture as well as those soft skills alluded to in the specific impact description.
3 soft skills interview questions to screen candidates
Here is a snippet of the position description accompanied by three of the best sample interview questions to help recruiters and hiring managers prescreen for candidate soft skills.
Also included are potential candidate answers articulated in a situation/task, action, and result type format.
Soft skill question #1: Influence and collaboration
Describe how you influenced outside stakeholder buy-in and collaboration necessary to complete a multi-phase project? Correlates with this job description bullet:
Example Candidate Response That Recruiters Should Look For
That Shows Influence + Strong Collaboration
Situation + Task: To complete the final phase of a critical software development project, I sought help from external experts who were battling their own deadlines and deliverables. Asking them to prioritize my project was a challenge.
Action: I approached the request with sensitivity to their current workload and presented a proposal that enabled them to contribute without disrupting their workflow. I also illustrated how our project collaboration would integrate across all departments and potentially spur double-digit productivity increases for all of us.
Result: As a result, the other team jumped into the initiative with both feet, and due to the success of the project —including a 28% boost in their team’s performance —they became outspoken advocates for future development projects.Soft Skill Question 2: Mentoring, Training, Empathy
Have you mentored a colleague? If so, what was the situation, and were the outcomes positive? Correlates with this job description bullet:
Example Candidate Response That Recruiters Should Look For That Shows Mentoring
Situation + Task: I work hard to build a high level of trust with my teammates, and as a result, they feel comfortable seeking my advice. Recently, a peer who was struggling at keeping up on project deliverables reached out to me for support.
Action: I began with empathetic inquiry, asking him to walk me through the steps he was taking up to the point of struggle. I also asked him to identify where he felt his work process was smooth. By doing this, I identified the bottleneck in his processes while also pointing out my peer’s strengths, boosting his confidence.
I mentored him for the next 6 months, during which he took and aced an online class that I recommended. I also met with him during lunch to provide 1:1 training on how to use my time-savings and performance-improving processes to better his performance.
Result: The end result was my peer gained renewed confidence, advanced his technical skills, and elevated overall performance, enabling him to be on a more level playing field with his teammates.
Soft skill question #2: Communicating a negative response
Can you describe a time when you had to say no to an important customer’s request? Correlates with this job description bullet:
Example Candidate Response That Recruiters Should Look for
That Shows Customer Problem Solving
Situation + Task: I’m often asked by internal customers for product features that will help serve their customers more effectively. While sometimes I can help, other times their specific requests are outside my / my team’s scope of ability.
Action: I quickly let them know I cannot fulfill their specific request. I also take the time to delve into their why for needing the feature, including what pain points they wish to resolve. If during this discovery, I’m able to provide an alternative solution, I do so. For example, I provided an off-the-shelf solution in one situation.
Result: As a result, during the following 12 months, the internal customer built immediate value for external clients that drove year-over-year revenue growth to our company’s bottom line.
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