My Favourite Soft Skills Interview Questions

In my day to day role, a big part of what I do involves hiring and assessing Software Engineers. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but I really do enjoy the interview process. It’s a great chance to meet new people and I often learn new things from them during the process.

When it comes to hiring for a technical role, more often than not, the emphasis might be placed on the technical skills of the candidate. Of course, if it is a technical role, it is vital to assess these skills. However, one part of an interview process that I feel is often overlooked is the soft skills.

At this point you might be wondering - what are soft skills? If you look up the definition of soft skills in the dictionary, it is defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people” and I think that it sums this up perfectly. These “soft skills” are also referred to as emotional intelligence and are an important part of the hiring equation. As a manager, soft skills are those “fluffier” attributes that are hard to define. Employees who possess these attributes are generally nice people to work with. I like to think that soft skills fall under the umbrella of creativity, listening skills, and team skills.

In this article, I want to share some of my favourite soft skill interview questions that I have come across (or used myself) during the interview process. Many of them are aimed towards Software Engineering roles, but you could adapt depending on the role that you are hiring for.

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions - they are simply there to give you inspiration during your next interview.

Questions such as:

  • Why are you leaving your old workplace?
  • Why are you interested in working here?
  • How would your colleagues describe you if I asked them to tell me about you?
  • What criticisms or strengths might they mention?
  • Do you have any goals that you would like to achieve in the next few years?
  • What made you want to be an [insert role here]?
  • What was the last book that you read?
  • Do you have any personal projects?
  • What frustrates you at work?
  • Tell me about a time when you had a difficult working relationship with someone at work - how did you handle it?
  • When do you consider a piece of work to be finished?
  • What do you think of TDD?
  • Do you like it - why or why not?
  • What’s the worst technical mistake that you’ve made? Or maybe the “best” outage you’ve ever been part of?
  • What do you think is the best way to collaborate on a project?
  • Imagine that you are in the middle of a development cycle and there is a major change in the functionality of a feature that you have been working on. How do you respond? What questions do you ask?
  • What do you do when someone in your team strongly disagrees with you?How do you ensure your opinion is heard?
  • How do you ensure you hear others opinions?

These are just a few questions that I like to ask and they give you a general understanding of the candidates self-awareness, passion, curiosity, temperament and approach to teamwork - just to name a few attributes!

If you are a hiring manager and you’ve never focussed on soft skills during an interview - give it a try, you never know what you might learn during your next interview.