7 Essential soft skills to look for when hiring

7 Essential soft skills to look for when hiring

Candidate’s Soft SkillsThe hiring process is about more than just gauging a candidate’s job skills. What they can do, where their strengths lie and their track record are all important. These hard markers are only one area you should be exploring in the all-important hiring process. But there’s another area that shouldn’t be passed over as you quiz a potential hire: soft skills. Soft skills let you see who a job candidate really is, not just what they can do. Can they do more than just fill the basic requirements for the job?

Here are some pointers to keep in mind to gain an understanding of a candidate’s soft skills.


The thing about self-motivated employees is they either have it or they don’t. This isn’t something you can teach. As for why is it important? Ask yourself how much time, as a manager, you spend coaching and motivating staff? How would you like to have that time to work on other priorities? Self-motivated employees don’t need you to hang over them. They’re also likely to be top-performers and they don’t need expensive rewards and incentives to deliver results.


Is your candidate a self-starter who takes initiative on their own when a problem arises? Or, instead, do they wait for instructions before tackling the problem? Quiz job candidates for an example of when they spotted a workplace problem on their own and what they did to solve it.


Few employees fill one single role these days. More commonly, they take on several roles when the situation demands it. As such, new hires should be prepared to wear many hats, and switch between them at any moment. To spot this ability, pore through their experience and see if they have a track record of being versatile and agile in different job roles.


Is your candidate all talk and no walk? Can they meet the promises they make? Check for follow-through. You can do this by having candidates take skill tests or other duties that must be finished by a deadline you set. Make sure this deadline isn’t too loose, but be fair in setting it.


You want candidates who are critical thinkers, making solid decisions while considering different options along the way. Employees who can do this require a sense of self-awareness about their ingrained biases. Help explore this in the job interview by asking them to walk you through a decision they made that went against their own personal biases.

Company awareness

Does the candidate have a thorough sense of what your company does and what its goals are? Look for this and see if they show genuine passion to work for you.

Applying experience

You want a candidate who can learn from their past experiences and use that knowledge in new situations. One way to bring this out in an interview is to have your candidate solve a hypothetical problem that is outside their past experiences. You want to see if they can use what they know on something new.


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