When hiring a candidate for a job opening, one of the first things hiring managers look at is the set of hard skills the individual possesses. “Hard skills” are the skills that the candidate will actually use in direct fulfillment of their job requirements. For example, hard skills for someone who will work in an IT job include the ability to code and the ability to manage information systems. Hard skills for someone who will work as a restaurant chef include mastery of cooking techniques and the ability to work with kitchen staff.
But there are also what are known as “soft skills,” or skills that aren’t necessarily required for the job but will still contribute to the employee’s good work. These skills are quite adaptable and can be carried over across different fields of employment. For that reason, they are just as valuable as hard skills and are worth looking for in new hires.
Soft skills are particularly important to look for in candidates who’ll work with people often, as well as candidates who’ll assume managerial duties. They also matter in work environments that employ a diverse range of people, for example in the Philippines’ business capital of Metro Manila. These eight soft skills will set the best candidates apart whether they’re applying for technical, creative, customer service, or management jobs in Manila. If you’re directly responsible for hiring new recruits, see if your candidates can demonstrate these to you.
One soft skill that’s extremely valuable to any job involving groups of people is empathy. You will want to look for a candidate with high emotional intelligence and an ability to “read the room.” It’s a good sign if they can put themselves in another person’s shoes and understand what they’re thinking. During their interview, you can ask them questions like, “What would you value from our company if you were our customer?” From their answers, you might be able to see how good they are at demonstrating empathy.
Confident, precise communicators are often assets to their employers, no matter their job designation. Look for a candidate who is not only articulate, but also thoughtful and deliberate about how they choose their words. You can get a feel of this while you’re speaking to them or while you’re reading their emails.
Ability to Ask Meaningful Questions
During the application process, you’re likely to ask the candidate whether they have questions about their job requirements, the company culture, and the like. Pay attention if they make the effort to ask questions, and if their questions are meaningful ones. It will demonstrate that they aren’t afraid to ask questions, especially when something is unclear or needs to be resolved. It also indicates that they’re curious and are genuinely interested in what they’ll be doing.
Ability to Work Well with People
Yet another soft skill that translates well across different fields and different job positions is the ability to work well with people. You’ll want to onboard a candidate who can prove that they’re comfortable around people and good at coordinating with others. You’ll be able to see if they have experience working with people from their resume. However, you can also ask them questions related to this soft skill. For example, consider asking “what are some things that you like to do to motivate your teammates?”
Initiative to Learn
It’s also a big plus if your candidate shows initiative to learn about things ahead of their job interview. One indicator that they’re eager learners is that they ask questions related to the home industry or want to know what your company does differently. During the interview, you can also ask them what they know about the company and its values. If they’re able to answer extensively, that means they took the time to research your company and are quite serious about the job. That’s a green flag for a successful candidate.
Organization and Carefulness
It always helps for an employee to be organized and careful about the way they work. That often indicates accuracy, good work ethic, and consideration for others. You’ll be able to spot this in how they organize the information on their resume, or how well they followed instructions during the application process.
Aptitude with Technology
Though it’s not a requirement for every single candidate to be a tech whiz, proficiency with technology is a big plus. That means that you don’t have to spend as much time teaching them how to use the technologies you already use in the office. It may also mean that they’ll be more confident incorporating tech into their workflow to work more accurately and efficiently.
Grace Under Pressure
The last soft skill you’ll want to watch out for is the candidate’s ability to work well under pressure. There may be situations in your line of work where things don’t go according to plan. It would be good if your candidate knows what these situations could be, and better if they can show their thought process for handling them. Take the opportunity to ask “what if” questions to the candidate, or to ask them how exactly they handled high-pressure situations at their last job.
The candidate’s hard skills should still be the primary basis of whether or not you’ll hire them. After all, their hard skills are what indicate how well-equipped they are to do the job. But their soft skills can help you predict whether they’ll last at the job and whether they’ll thrive in the company’s environment. That said, don’t neglect the opportunity to get to know your candidates better, and offer them the chance to demonstrate their soft skills.