Coworkers can give vital feedback on soft skills in reference checks
- A new SkillSurvey study found that, when asked, job candidates' coworkers give feedback on soft skills for reference checks, while managers focus on tasks. SkillSurvey, provider of cloud-based reference-checking services, analyzed 20,000 references for 5,000 candidates.
- Based on the study results and the growing importance of soft skills in the workplace, SkillSurvey recommends that employers get feedback from both candidates' coworkers and their managers.
- The study also shows that in comparing feedback on areas of improvement, managers might describe candidates as not experienced or proactive enough, while a coworker might say that they're perfectionists or work too hard. In comparing feedback on candidates' strengths, managers might evaluate them as dependable and meet deadlines, while coworkers might describe them as good listeners and compassionate.
A 2016 SkillSurvey study found that 86% of reference checks on job candidates are completed before they receive a job offer. However, the quality of candidates is a growing concern because of the tendency by some to inflate their qualifications or be outright dishonest about their job experiences; a 2016 CareerBuilder survey showed that 77% or HR and hiring managers discovered lies on resumes.
But resumes mostly deal with skills and knowledge and fail to give an accurate idea of a candidate's character, including their level of camaraderie, trustworthiness, honesty and sense of ethics. Even if candidates' resumes are truthful and show they have the highest-level credentials in their fields, their soft skills will determine how they'll behave on the job and ultimately how productive they will make their teams. That's one reason why soft skills have been increasingly in demand as of late.
As candidates' peers, coworkers likely know first-hand a person's temperament, as well as how they communicate and problem solve. Recruitment and rehiring costs are high enough that expanding reference checks beyond managers could be a wise strategy. One caveat: Employers must weigh coworkers' feedback carefully to make sure it's objective and not personally motivated.