Author: Lehanne Bleumink, Gold Seal HR Services Manager.

Soft skills are transferable skills that an employee has – such as attitude, communication, decision-making, teamwork, time management etc. They are the behavioural attributes, personality traits and communication abilities needed for success on the job. They define how a person interacts in their relationships with others; they’re all necessary for cultural fit and can be good predictors of future job performance.

Hard skills are skills and knowledge that are learned. They are relatively easy to identify in someone, and deficiencies in these areas can be readily addressed by training.

Soft skills, which refer to a person’s core motives and traits, are more difficult to assess and develop. Therefore it’s important to also look for and select for these characteristics when recruiting.

It’s at the recruitment stage that an employer needs to try to assess a candidate’s soft skills. Although soft skills questions (often referred to as behavioural based questions) usually don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, it is still wise to ask a few of these questions in an interview. This will help you get a better understanding of a candidate’s way of thinking, attitude, motivation, and actions.

It is desirable to evaluate an individual’s past behaviour when making recruitment decisions. The ability to handle a challenge today is a matter of evaluating successes when dealing with similar challenges in the past. This is using past behaviour to predict how a person will behave in similar situations in the future. Uncovering what a candidate has done in the past in an interview, is at the heart of the behavioural selection process. Once this is achieved, an accurate prediction on behaviours and skills can be made.

To help identify soft skills at the recruitment stage Gold Seal has created the Behavioural Attribute Definitions & Interview Questions template. This document has been designed to work in conjunction with the Selection Interview Guide and Position Description templates. These documents are available for purchase on the Gold Seal website.

People are most frequently hired for their skills and knowledge, and then fired for their behaviour’.

Having a team of flexible, motivated, well-organised employees, who are able to get on with each other, helps to raise productivity levels and have a big impact on the performance of a company. If employees have good soft skills they tend to work better as a team which makes it easier to develop a strong and positive workplace culture.

Many employers understand the need for soft skills and see them equally important to technical skills. Some employers see them as even more important, yet many are not willing to invest in their own employees to help further their soft skills. Should you wish to discuss your soft skills training needs further you can contact Gold Seal on 03 9510 5100 or email

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, 92% of executives rated soft skills as a critical priority.

For assistance on any of your HR/IR requirements – call Gold Seal on 03 9510 5100 or email