If you are finding that new hires are struggling to effectively onboard during this period of increased hybrid and remote working, or you are experiencing higher than normal early stage attrition, it’s worth considering if you are assessing candidates effectively in relation to the demands that are being placed on them at the moment.
Alongside the technical skillsets that you have already identified as being important for a role, you must also consider the other personal attributes and soft skills that are likely to impact effectiveness right now. During the recruitment process, you should be looking to identify those candidates that have the capability to perform well in these exceptional circumstances.
Here are 7 soft skills that it may be worth exploring during the recruitment process in order to ensure that your next hire is set up for success in this changeable era of work.
Working in a hybrid fashion or remotely means that your new starter may be away from their team and other stakeholders more frequently than usual. There may be fewer opportunities for them to engage with people or have incidental in-person interaction, so their ability to proactively and virtually seek out formal and informal collaborators to build relationships with is even more important than usual.
Is the candidate a good networker? Do they proactively seek out people that can support them and from this develop productive relationships? Do they wait for people to come to them or are they confident in making introductions? Are they able to do all this in a virtual environment?
As a new starter in a new organisation, being physically separated from the team and other departments makes turning to someone for advice that little bit more difficult. This means that the ability to solve problems independently becomes an even more valuable asset, and one that has a real impact on personal effectiveness.
Does the candidate demonstrate an ability to find the answer when it’s not obvious? Can they come up with solutions to problems using their initiative? Do they operate effectively when faced with new and unfamiliar challenges? Do they thrive when challenged?
Working remotely – whether all the time or just some of the time – can dramatically increase the number of distractions someone may face during the course of the day. This can be exacerbated when starting in a new role as it may be more difficult for them to ‘self-direct’. Furthermore, being away from their team and manager means that at times your new hire may need to combat feelings of loneliness and motivate themselves, ensuring that they stay focused on the objective at hand.
How does the candidate ensure they remain focused on their objectives? What goals do they set themselves and what do they do to make sure that these are achieved? Do they have a ‘can do’ attitude and the desire to get great results?
When there’s less direct oversight and visibility drops, it becomes more important for you to know that your new hire is maintaining high standards and meeting their objectives. More conscientious individuals will have the innate desire to do the right things in the right way and will be less inclined to cut corners.
How does the candidate ensure the quality of what they are producing? Can they give you examples of really going the extra mile in order to deliver great results? Are there times when they cut corners or compromise on quality unnecessarily?
As the line between work and life blurs a little when working from home, the ability of your new starter to organise their time effectively and plan tasks and objectives becomes increasingly important. More planned and organised individuals will find it easier to let others know what they are doing which will help them work more effectively as part of a team.
How does the candidate plan their time? What is their approach to prioritising? Do they work in a structured way? How do they ensure that they are able to balance both short and long term objectives? Do they set milestones and/or KPIs to evaluate progress?
Starting a new role can be very stressful and during a period of uncertainty and change, the ability to effectively overcome setbacks and challenges is going to make a real difference in how effective, and happy, a new starter is.
How well does the candidate overcome setbacks and challenges? At what point do they give up on an objective? How do they recognise when they feel stressed or under pressure, how does this manifest and how do they manage this? What do they do to ensure their own wellbeing?
Your new starter may well be facing a double whammy of both working in an unfamiliar environment and doing so at a time of significant change where organisations are having to rethink how they operate. The ability to adapt to new ways or working and to different situations is likely to be a key factor in their success.
When has the candidate been faced with an unfamiliar situation and how did they deal with it? How have they changed their approach when something isn’t working? How well do they take on board feedback?
In incorporating these criteria into your recruitment processes, you are much more likely to better identify the candidates that have what it takes to perform well and, importantly, to onboard effectively.
About the author
James Crichton leads the Assessment and Development team for Hays in the UK. Hays Assessment and Development is a team of dedicated Occupational Assessment and Business Psychology Experts who support organisations make the right talent decisions and enhance their employer brand through structured assessment processes that are robust, fair & inclusive.
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