Recently, one of my fellow engineers took a job at Facebook. He successfully completed several rounds of interviews, he was called for an interview at the office, and already there, at the leadership and drive stage, something went wrong. As an acquaintance later admitted, he was not very ready to answer questions like “how did you work with a difficult colleague” or “how did you achieve your goals in a toxic environment”.
It is these questions that make it possible to assess the so-called soft skills of engineers. I was very interested in the history of interviews on Facebook, so I decided to study the topic of soft skills, check them and train in more detail. As a bonus, I attach a list of useful resources and articles that I came across in the process of preparing the material. Go!
What are soft skills
On the Russian-speaking Internet, and especially on Habré, many have at least heard of such a concept. Usually the following meaning is put into it: “This is all that is not directly related to the code – the ability to communicate in a team, etc.” This is partly true, but this concept is too general.
Here is a good description What soft skills really are: Soft skills require interpersonal adaptability to different people, problems and situations. For example, leadership and communication are interpersonal skills that help engineers be more successful because they complement their hard skills, such as knowledge of a particular programming language.
According to researchby LinkedIn, the following soft skills are most valued by employers in 2020:
- creativity – as in 2019, employers are looking for those who can find non-standard ways to solve work problems.
- persuasion ability – as in the previous year, employers appreciate those who not only offer solutions and ideas, but can explain them.
- ability to interact – the management of companies understands that loners are not as effective in the long term as a high-quality team.
- skills to adapt to change – the current year has fully demonstrated the need for this skill, in 2019 the LinkedIn survey also showed its relevance.
- emotional intellect Is a new skill that was not in last year’s report. It implies the ability to perceive, evaluate and respond to one’s own emotions and those of others.
Soft skills are tested in so-called behavioral interviews. There are more than a dozen aspects that recruiters can analyze during them, among them:
- Propensity to take action, ability to self-motivation.
- Ability to adapt to changing conditions.
- Communication skills.
- Ability to resolve conflicts.
- Creativity and the ability to generate ideas.
- Decision making process.
- Ability to set goals.
- Skills for communicating a position, convincing oneself in the rightness.
- Planning, prioritization, time management.
- Solution of problems.
- Work under pressure.
How it all works
Companies analyze soft skills in different ways. For example, Amazon also uses its famous Leadership Principles for this, and some of them to the candidate “try on“Already on a telephone interview.
Some people start checking already at the stage of applying for a vacancy. For example, we developed a bot @g_jobbotthat allows candidates to receive vacancies relevant to their experience directly in Telegram. Companies sometimes post a vacancy not only in the bot, but also on other sites, but in the end they give preference to those who came through g-mate – this is a fairly new way of finding a job, those candidates who use it show themselves as people who do not are afraid of experiments and open to new technologies.
For many projects – for example, startups – having these qualities is critical. According to the companies’ reviews, the sample of candidates who came through the bot significantly exceeds the quality that can be obtained through ordinary job boards.
In large IT companies, especially in the United States, it is common for behavioral interviews to become part of the so-called onsite loop – a series of conversations in the company’s office for a candidate who has undergone telephone screening.
In these interviews, soft skills are tested using questions like:
- Tell me about the situation in which you ..
- Share an example of how you …
- Imagine that you are in a situation where you need …
- Remember how you acted in a situation when …
Such open-ended questions allow the recruiter to get a description of a specific situation, action, task that the candidate faced. At the same time, it is considered good practice among recruiters to ask additional questions during the story.
Below is a record of a useful webinar on soft skills with practical examples in Russian: