How important are soft skills for IT professionals? Very important, most IT leaders agree. In a recent survey of 1,250 HR and line of business executives by consulting firm West Monroe Partners, 98 percent say they evaluate candidates for IT positions on soft skills, usually by means of a behavioral or cultural interview, personality test, or written test. And 66 percent say they’ve rejected an otherwise qualified candidate for an IT role because of deficient soft skills.
“Soft skills are so important for IT people because they have a larger barrier to overcome,” explains Greg Layok, managing director at West Monroe. “They have to collaborate on very challenging issues. They have to communicate in a form that a business person can understand, and know the business issues.” That’s why, he says, many employers would rather leave a position vacant than fill it with a candidate who lacks soft skills. Even though the current labor market is “ridiculously tight,” he says, “we’re better off not hiring than hiring the wrong person. Hiring a developer who’s not collaborative, who doesn’t work well with the team is not a neutral value-add. It’s a negative.”
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