The automotive dealership industry has witnessed a dramatic shift in recent years. Technology is advancing, customer behaviors are evolving, and traditional roles within the dealership are being redefined.

Hiring for technical competence is no longer enough. Leaders in the industry must also focus on soft skills, as they can often be the difference between a good employee and a great one.

Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills: The Breakdown

First, let’s understand what we’re dealing with. Hard skills are teachable and measurable abilities, such as using dealership software, managing finances, or understanding automotive technicalities.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal attributes that enable someone to interact harmoniously and effectively with others. Think communication, adaptability, and problem-solving.

For leaders in the automotive dealership industry, striking the right balance between these two is critical. Here’s a closer look:

  1. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Hard Skills:

  • Financial forecasting
  • Risk management
  • Budgeting and financial planning
  • Compliance and regulatory knowledge

Soft Skills:

  • Strategic thinking: Ability to see the bigger picture and plan for the long-term.
  • Communication: Necessary for translating financial jargon into understandable insights for other members of the leadership team.
  • Leadership: Guiding a team and ensuring they remain motivated and aligned with dealership objectives.
  1. Controller

Hard Skills:

  • Financial reporting
  • Accounting proficiency
  • Internal controls and audits
  • Tax knowledge

Soft Skills:

  • Attention to detail: Ensuring all financial matters are accurate and up to par.
  • Integrity: Dealing with money means high levels of trust are essential.
  • Collaborative mindset: Working well with other departments to ensure smooth financial operations.
  1. General Manager

Hard Skills:

  • Dealership operations understanding
  • Sales and marketing strategies
  • Customer service practices
  • Inventory management

Soft Skills:

  • Problem-solving: Quickly addressing issues as they arise.
  • Motivational skills: Keeping the dealership team inspired and driven.
  • Customer-centric mindset: Always putting the customer first in decision-making.

Interviewing for Soft Skills

Here are a few ways dealership owners and leaders can effectively evaluate soft skills during the hiring process:

  1. Behavioral Interviewing: Instead of asking candidates to list their skills, pose scenarios or problems they might face in their role. Their answers will give insights into their problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and adaptability.
  2. Group Interviews: Seeing how a candidate interacts with others can be revealing. Group settings can bring out qualities like leadership, collaboration, and communication skills.
  3. Role-Playing: Simulate a challenging situation relevant to the role and see how the candidate responds. This helps gauge real-time decision-making, adaptability, and communication skills.
  4. Reference Checks: Former employers and colleagues can provide invaluable insights into a candidate’s interpersonal skills, work ethic, and more.


While technical skills are foundational in the automotive dealership industry, the intangible soft skills are often the glue that holds everything together. By placing equal emphasis on both during the hiring process, dealership leaders can ensure they’re building teams poised for success in today’s complex automotive landscape. Contact us today to get in touch with great candidates looking to make an impact.