I’ve the chance to interview a lot of people even if I’m not a HR person. Mainly IT guys, different skills, but more or less all technical people (or first line managers).
I almost often ask a question about the future, something like: how do see yourself in 5 years?
And then I ask: which will be the three key success factors that will let you achieve that position?
Even if they usually have a deep technical skill, at least 2 factors are related to soft skills. And this is good, I think (or may be they just are reading too much 🙂 ).
What I don’t like is that they usually think that soft skills cannot be learnt.
As for many things, you can be more or less natural on a given skill but you can learn and be better! I just think it’s a bit harder with soft skills then with technical stuff for a single reason: it’s harder to learn by doing.
After studying, you can learn by doing a new technical stuff just applying it in you current project.
Soft skills must be used while you are doing “something else” so you tend to loose control. Suppose you want to be better in some kind of personal skill during meetings, you have to learn it by doing the meeting. And as meetings are (should be) important and hard, you have to be concentrated on the topic of the meeting more then on your behavior. That’s why it’s harder to improve on soft skills.