As soon as you start a new project or expand your team, you'll inevitably go through the hiring process. If you want to find a good specialist, meticulous recruitment is a must. As two sides of the same coin, hard and soft skills help to create the complete overview of a candidate's capacities. That's why it's important to build your recruitment in the manner to actually assess them.

Many managers clearly define the critical skills they want to see in their teams. But they often struggle to put their needs into action. How to build the evaluation process correctly and find the solutions for the biggest pain points? With our extensive experience in tech recruiting services and thousands of tech interviews behind the scenes, let us share the best examples and strategies.

What Are Hard and Soft Skills in Tech?

Evaluating specialists' hard and soft skills is a number one challenge

Of course, soft skills and hard skills will differ from one role to another, but they are some main contributors to your IT staffing quotes. Hiring a full-stack who masters only JavaScript and Python or someone who has skills in Java, CSS, Angular, and a bit of PHP? Feel the difference?

All build their recruiting campaigns around hard skills, looking for professionals to accomplish a specific pile of tasks.

Hard skills

The characteristics of hard skills are closely linked with the technical abilities of a specialist. These will be exactly the specific skills required for each role and function. Whether you check the proficiency of a programming language or a software mastery, you'll expect a candidate to show their certificates, training, and experience for that.

While we don't expect candidates to describe their soft skills in their CVs, we don't send any offers until we check them during interviews. And this requirement is present everywhere around, from small startups to big unicorns.

Soft skills

Unlike hard skills that are measurable and job-specific, soft skills are human skills omnipresent in every role. Soft skills evaluation is built differently and is aimed at checking a specialists' behavioral, communication, and interpersonal traits. Why have they shifted to the fore? Because we all realized that, for example, mastering Ruby won't help you much if you cannot collaborate and resolve conflicts.

Understanding this difference between soft skills and hard skills will allow you to better structure your recruiting campaign.

Assessing Technical Skills vs. Soft Skills: What Are Everyone's Struggles?

For sure, every company and business, and even each manager has their own approach towards finding a talent. But looking back to all the talent requests we had, we see some common trends. Actually, finding a needed specialist is not a number one challenge. But evaluating their hard skills vs. soft skills is.

Top needs in hard skills

Based on common trends and our experience

It's not surprising that programming skills assessment is in the forefront for hard skills. But, companies also seek proficiency for:

  • Database management

  • Algorithms knowledge

  • Data structures

  • GenAI usage

  • Proper prompts usage

  • Automation of routine tasks

CEOs also indicate that they sometimes struggle with a rapidly evolving tech landscape. That's why in assessing the hard skills, they rather focus on a future-proof skill set.

Top needs in soft skills

Based on business' demands and needs

While thinking of soft skills evaluation, time management and teamwork are probably the first to come to your mind. But managers see their businesses prosper with specialists mastering:

  • Readiness to learn

  • Ability to listen

  • Honesty

  • Ownership of tasks

  • Cross-team communication

Besides, they would like specialists to not only accomplish their tasks, but have an understanding of business strategy. They mostly look for someone to stay long-term and be able to give precise estimates.

If you're worried about your turnover or struggle with overdue project results, Outstaff Your Team can offer a solution. We find you talents – you reap the fruits.

Hire with us now!

Effective Evaluation Strategies

In the majority of cases, every recruiting campaign includes a couple of stages. From screening and CV checking to several rounds of interviews and recommendations gathering. It's important to build a comprehensive approach that would equally assess hard vs. soft skills needed for the role.

Basically, what are hard skills and soft skills for a hiring manager? These are the main criteria to check whether a potential candidate will be able to meet the role requirements. They also show if they fit a company's business strategy.

For different technical positions, there are options to create standard evaluations for a specific role, like in the case of a full-stack developer roadmap. There are also options to create specific questions for a software developer skills. We've gathered the most effective approaches that we know worked well for our clients.

What does hard skills' assessment look like?

The evaluation of all hard skills and soft skills starts with the assessment of the project's needs. Besides defining what a specialist should do to move the project forward, you should also agree on the final cost to hire a programmer. Further, plan on how to do an employment background check and move from the pre-screening phase to all the interview rounds. Ensure you include these strategies in your workflow:

  • Certificates and portfolio checks. Even though checking the certificates and a candidate's background gives you a limited overview, it can be a good starting point in differentiating a specialist from the pool of all the applicants. Depending on the role you're seeking to fill in, check the certifications in the relevant field, be it networking, cloud computing, or cybersecurity area.

    Whether you're looking for a junior or a senior specialist, compare their educational background with their experience. Request to check a candidate's portfolio to understand the complexity of the work they've done and whether it correlates with your requirements. It's also a good way to check how candidates develop hard and soft skills during their assignments.

  • Live coding tests. We've noticed that live coding gives the most accurate overview of a candidate's skills. When you give tasks related to the future job, you get the real insight into how a developer will cope with such typical tasks in the future. Both sides immediately understand whether they will be a perfect match in the future.

  • Technical interviews. We mistakenly think that technical interviews encompass evaluation of technical skills vs. soft skills of a developer. In reality, good questions are designed to deepen the understanding of a candidate's technical expertise only.

    It's not efficient to simply ask, “Do you have any experience with React?”. We'd rather check in which situation a developer would use React and when they would opt for Svelte. Or, for example, we would check on which part of their workflow they would implement a GenAI.

  • Demonstrations. To dive deeper into a candidate's portfolio, ask to demonstrate some parts of their accomplished projects. This way, you'll not only evaluate the technical expertise, but understand their knowledge of a business strategy. You'll also assess their presentation skills and how they put complex concepts into simpler words, which is a need in communication with stakeholders.

  • Project assignments. Setting aside live coding, you can offer a small piece of a project to accomplish at home. Otherwise, you can ask for a contribution in an already existing project in your company. The task should be similar to what you expect a specialist to do in their future role. The idea is not only to check how they master a programming language, but also how they will work on their new assignment.

How to assess soft skills?

While taking a look at developers' soft vs. hard skills, it's important to devote the equal amount of time to both. Soft skills evaluation usually includes behavioral assessment and situational questions. They should cover the specific scenarios that developers will face in their daily work. We usually benefit from the following approaches:

  • Behavioral questions. There is no standard behavioral approach for all interviews and all roles. Even though soft skills are applicable to every role, each client decides what is important for them the most. The questions will differ if someone is looking for a full-stack who takes on the responsibility and a data analyst with a good time management.

    That's why our interview phases are custom and are dependent on a position we want to fill in.

  • Typical scenarios. Scenarios from everyday activities are good for soft vs. technical skills, but are mostly used for the first ones. Take an example: “Imagine that the feature development takes longer than you initially estimated. What will be your next steps?”. Questions like this allow us to see a candidate's behavior in different situations. They also show whether they will be a good fit for the team.

  • STAR method. As part of behavioral assessment, STAR questions are built in a manner to let a candidate respond with concrete examples. From their experience, we want to hear what was the situation, what was their task, what action they took, and which result they had. Adopted initially by such giants as Google and Meta, this technique quickly spread across all companies, proving its effectiveness.

  • Recommendations. What are hard and soft skills of this candidate? To get the full overview, ask this question to a candidate's previous manager. We mark this strategy as part of soft skills. It's rare that previous hiring managers describe how a specialist was actually coding. They mostly talk of their deadlines management, their cooperation with the team, their responsibility, and so on.

Finding balance between soft vs. hard skills

Top effective strategies for your successful recruiting campaign

With all these examples of hard and soft skills, it's important to keep the balance between both. The questions prepared for the interview rounds should be precise and concise. They should target the main needs of the business, otherwise the interview will become long and tiring for both sides.

Try the integrated approach, where you would assess soft skills vs. hard skills at the same time. Create a defined structure, where you would prepare questions for every hard or soft skill defined in your requirements.

How a Recruiter Can Solve the IT Hiring Problem with Hard and Soft Skills?

Recruiters are these intermediary players who create the comprehensive evaluation of hard and soft skills per your requirements. Besides their extensive knowledge in the field, they benefit from their experience and know which strategy works best. Before presenting you the candidates, the recruiting partner will usually go through the following steps:

  • Understand your needs;

  • Source candidates;

  • Accomplish technical assessment;

  • Organize interviews;

  • Evaluate matching.

Instead of doing everything yourself, you can delegate this task to professionals like Outstaff Your Team. We can not only help you find candidates and lead the interviews. We can also advise you on communication and retention. Because in the end, finding world-class specialists for your project is not only about hiring. It's about creating a match of experience, aspirations, and the mutual vision of the future.


How can we ensure our IT team has the relevant expertise for emerging technologies?

We should keep the team up to date, providing access to various sources. Sometimes, asking simple questions on where the technology can be used can show the gaps a team has in the field. Extra training and refreshers can also be of great help.

How do we assess a candidate's problem-solving abilities and ability to troubleshoot complex technical issues efficiently?

To check problem-solving abilities, we usually use the situational questions during interviews. By modeling a situation from an everyday work, we assess how a candidate will behave and whether this matches the client's expectations.

How can we find IT professionals with the right balance of hard and soft skills?

For every set of competences needed for the job, we usually prepare a number of questions that would cover both hard and soft skills. We usually stick to typical scenarios from work for soft skills and organize live coding tests to check the technical expertise.

Silvia is the Hiring Specialist at Outstaff Your Team, who transforms the hiring process into an exciting journey with a successful outcome. More than 5 years of experience in IT outsourcing has brought her the valuable skills that help her lead a qualified recruiting process. Her empathy and exceptional understanding of soft skills are the key strengths in her professional activity. The tech talents she finds for various clients harmoniously fit the team.

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