Hiring Tips: 5 In-Demand Soft Skills to Look for When Hiring New Talent

Decision-making & Problem-solving 1st December 2016 Pooja Kamat

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While it may be easy to find someone with sound technical skills matching a profile like language proficiency or programming, it is scanning for intangible soft skills in a new hire that gives recruiters a hard time. These soft skills are a major game changer. They determine whether the employee will survive or fit into a dynamic work culture. In case you are looking for hiring tips then make sure you do pay attention to the key things to focus on when you have a candidate sitting across you. Look for a healthy balance between business knowledge and soft skills for this can go a long way in an organisation’s success.

Is flexible and enthusiastic

Being flexible and adaptable is an asset because it’s a sign that no matter which situation you put such employees in, they will fine tune accordingly and give it their best shot. They are generally not scared of being thrown out of their comfort zone, which also ups their dependability quotient. Give them a hypothetical situation to identify their level of enthusiasm. Should they fake it you’ll know and if it they are consistent in their response you know they’re a perfect hire.

Willing to take initiative and lead with a problem-solving approach

When you interview prospects, make it look like a discussion and that you want to know them beyond their degrees and certificates. Talk about their past experiences and gauge how much of an initiative-taker they are and whether they like to lead and not just follow. Ask them to cite instances where they had to lead and analyse their approach. Of course you may not necessarily be hiring for a manager position always, but you can surely identify potential for later.


‘What are your strengths and limitations’ may be the most often asked question, but be sure to frame it differently. Ask them about their work style is. Do they like to collaborate and enjoy working with teams or prefer doing everything on their own. They will naturally hint on how they function better which obviously reveals how self-aware they are. Look for consistency by checking how in the past their peers rated their working style. Or whether they think there’s scope to improve or what can help them improve.

Has no sense of bloated ego

Ask candidates to narrate experiences that have been rewarding and also a few that they think were mistakes they aren’t proud of. Delve deeper. Find out why they went wrong and what they could have done (in retrospect) that will help them avoid such situations in future. Find out what they felt when they were reviewed for their work by superiors. Did they take feedback (constructive or not) in the right spirit? Or are they focused on making statements like ‘I did what was right’. The latter should be an indicator that they have ego issues and may not take feedback seriously. Ask them to define a good manager (they’re likely to define the kind of manager they’d like to become). Ask for their opinion on sharing credit with the team. This will open a window to their notion of self.

Inquisitive and hungry to learn

Most times candidates shy away from asking questions about the company even when they are asked to. While some recruiters may think it is okay, others think that asking questions is a genuine sign of their inquisitiveness. Probing questions on work culture, team hierarchy (vertical and lateral), growth opportunities, work from home setup, trainings (onsite and offsite) and mid-year and annual review criteria show they are interested in knowing how the firm works. The way you judge their potential, they too are figuring out if they will fit in, and grow or not.

If you are an employment seeker, you may have by now got an insight into what hirers look for. You must have also found out why despite your excellent technical skill sets you often face rejection. Now that you know how to score perfectly, get your answers ready. It’s is likely that you may clinch your next opportunity in no time.

This article was first published in World HR Diary. It can be found here

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