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Recruitment Insights

Candidate Skills – Are you just rolling the dice?

candidate assessment

Organisations that don’t conduct candidate assessments before employing staff, run the risk of having under-skilled staff that jeopardise productivity levels and can end up costing the enterprise dearly in time and money.

There is a positive correlation between poor hiring decisions, staff morale, employee turnover, and the bottom line results of an organisation.
From many years of recruiting, I have seen just how crucial pre-employment skills assessments are to all types and sized organisations.

In the dim dark past, skills testing was a ‘nice to have’. Fast forward to today and we simply wouldn’t do without them! Assessing candidate’s skills provides a better understanding of their true capabilities and assists in more accurately determining their long-term suitability to perform and excel in any given role.

The buzz words now in employee assessment circles are the differentiation between ‘hard skills’ and soft skills’. What on earth is the difference – are not skills just skills?

Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs, often referred to as technical skills. By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify, such as self-awareness, self-management, adaptability, problem solving and social skills to name just a few.

Longitudinal research carried out by Amanda Gale et.al surveying 260 employers in the Interior Design sector clearly identified soft skills including attitude, communication and interpersonal skills more frequently as positive and important traits.1

The findings above included that soft skills can not only improve employee performance and satisfaction but can also prepare technical workers for promotion into supervisory roles.

In addition to hard skill testing, soft skill testing can be just as crucial in assessing and identifying levels of emotionally intelligent (EQ) in candidates providing an employer with valuable information about ‘fit’ for their organisation’s culture. This can be particularly important where certain cultural sensitivities are a pre-requisite.

At McCormack Employment Services we recognise how important it is to offer our clients the very best skilled candidates we can and incorporating both hard and soft skills assessments as part of our service offering sets us apart from those agencies that don’t.

Cheryl McCormack – Principal Recruiter & Business Consultant holds a Graduate Diploma in Psychology combined with her 20 plus years as a recruitment expert. Cheryl reviews all assessment results.


1 Gale, A., Duffey, M., Park‐Gates, S., & Peek, P. (2017). Soft Skills versus Hard Skills: Practitioners’ Perspectives on Interior Design Interns. Journal of Interior Design, 42(4), 45-63.