We’ve heard it before. “You can’t test for soft skills. They can’t be taught. They can only be learned on-the-job.”
You can and should test and train for soft skills. With good soft skill testing, successful applicants will have the skills needed to maintain and improve customer satisfaction. Good measurement can tell you which skills frontline employees can perform and where the gaps are.
Testing for Soft Skills: Benefits and Challenges
Most employers are able to identify the skills of highly productive frontline employees. The challenges for recruiters are:
- How do you get applicants to produce those skills in a way that can be objectively evaluated on a test?
- How do you map those skills to a testing framework for the job?
- How do you do all of the above on a daily basis, in a high-volume, low-cost environment?
Aligning recruitment testing with the soft skills required for a job is a difficult task. Some common solutions with big flaws are:
Behavioral tests (what would you do in a situation?): These are expensive and time-consuming when speed and quality are required. In any case, answering multiple choice questions does not test the ability to perform live using voice or chat.
Interviews: While popular, they don’t reproduce the real work environment, they’re costly and open to subjectivity.
A Soft Skills Testing Solution that Works
Some of our clients are doing an excellent job of getting applicants to produce specific verbal and written communication skills for evaluation.
Here is how it works: the HR team uploads real call or chat scenarios to an online assessment. The assessment asks for a series of specific responses within a time limit. The assessment requires both live voice and chat responses.
The applicant listens to a customer’s concern and is required to answer specific questions:
|Soft Skills Test Prompt||Applicant’s Response|
|Acknowledge the client’s concern|
|Ask a clarifying question|
|Provide a can-do statement|
The soft skills evaluation is accurate and objective:
- The responses are limited to specific parameters.
- The recordings and chats are captured and immediately available for remote scoring by the team.
- The scoring rubric is based on specific functional language and vocabulary.
The platform used in this example is the LearningBranch Assessment and Training tool, a smart, customizable application that captures voice and chat responses for automated and/or human evaluation.
To help clients map skills to competencies, LearningBranch offers a communication competency framework of skills and behaviors that can be measured. Or clients use their own. More on this in another blog.
LearningBranch is now developing a smart soft-skill evaluation engine to assist the HR team by providing automated scoring on certain parameters within the soft skill testing framework. Speed and accuracy is the goal.
HR teams can evaluate real performance before applicants step onto the floor, and know that it maps to what their clients are asking for.