The “soft skills” gap in the tech industry is real, at least according to CIOs. To make sure that candidates possess sought-after competencies such as grit, empathy and emotional intelligence, employers are increasingly turning to neuroscience games, artificial intelligence (A.I.), VR/AR assessments, paid job auditions and old-fashioned lunch meetings to see a more realistic side of candidates.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at the new types of soft skill assessment techniques and platforms you may encounter during the hiring process.
A.I.-Driven Assessments in Video and Phone Interviews
How It Works: On the surface, this will probably look and feel the same as any other video interview process, explained Dr. Charles Handler, an industrial-organizational psychologist and president and founder of Rocket-Hire. But some employers run a customized algorithm in the background that assesses your body language, facial expressions, voice inflection, and word choice to reveal your soft skills.
The results are compared against “tens of thousands of data points” to predict on-the-job success, said Amanda Hahn, director of Product Marketing for HireVue, a developer of A.I.-powered pre-hire assessments.
Other employers are using speech analysis software to evaluate a candidate’s answers to questions recorded during an automated phone interview. The results are typically compared to the ideal profile based on the traits of current top performers.
On the positive side, you won’t need to spend time taking tests (or playing games) if your skills are simultaneously evaluated by an algorithm. The interviewer’s questions and reactions give you some idea of what they’re looking for.
Success Tips: Cite examples illustrating your competence with the soft skills listed in the job description, or that mirror attributes of current employees, using a blend of in-person and video interviewing preparation techniques.
Just be sure to incorporate positive adjectives, inflection and tone of voice into your delivery. Also, figure out what your facial expressions communicate to others and practice in front of a mirror. Lastly, remember that a machine may notcomprehend sarcasm or humor.
“Be authentic in what you say and how you say it,” Hahn advised.
Game-Based Assessments (GBAs)
How It Works: Companies are using interactive neuroscience games as an alternative to multiple choice psychometric tests to assess soft skills such as resilience, flexibility, adaptability and decision-making. In true video game style, some platforms ask a potential hire to assume a persona and make decisions based upon conflicts and situations they encounter, revealing soft and hard skills.
Success Tips: Reto Ruegger, founder of softfactors AG, says that candidates should research the hiring manager’s personality, as well as the company culture, in order to figure out what game moves will highlight desirable skills.
But Ruegger also warns against trying to tweak the test results, since it can lead to a bad match for both job hunters and their employers. “Being incompatible leads to frustration and turnover,” he said. “Use the results of evaluations and engage in self-testing to confirm your strengths and find your best fit.”
Also be aware that some providers (such as MindX) use A.I. to evaluate gameplay behaviors and identify potential cheaters.
How It Works: Virtual reality assessments immerse candidates in a simulated work environment based on the real thing. Instead of asking a PM how they would resolve team conflict, for instance, hiring managers can see them in action.
Success Tips: If you really want to shine, try taking a VR soft skills or emotional intelligence training course. You’ll not only improve your market value and capabilities—your confidence will grow as you become more comfortable applying your skills in both real world and simulated situations.
“Get to Know You” Sessions
How It Works: Having lunch or dinner with a prospective boss or team members may not be high-tech, but it is becoming an increasingly popular way to gauge interpersonal skills and mastery of the social elements that correlate with on-the-job success.
Success Tips: Your host will be judging your manners, your interactions with the wait staff, whether you interrupt or express opinions on controversial subjects, or how you react to a botched food order. Although dining with a prospective boss can be nerve-wracking, it’s a great way to build rapport and show off your soft skills to a real human being.