Be on the lookout for soft skills when hiring for senior positions
Assessing a candidate’s soft skills is a fundamental step in the hiring process, especially for senior positions. (File photo)
Hi, I am a recruitment manager at a medium-sized company in Egypt. We’ve recently been expanding, and now have the need to hire a creative director for our design department. In terms of skills, we know that we are looking for someone who can use specific programs, and has a certain amount of experience. The question that remains is: once we’ve assessed the technical skills of the candidates, what should we be looking for in terms of “soft skills”? Are these skills really necessary in the workplace? And are there specific skills that are more important than others when hiring senior-level candidates? – Mohammed B.
Hi Mohammed. Assessing a candidate’s soft skills is a fundamental step in the hiring process, especially for senior positions. While technical skills are important to complete tasks properly, soft skills make sure that the company grows constantly, teams run smoothly and individuals work effectively.
The importance of soft skills in hiring senior candidates has never been more evident. Results from the recent Bayt.com Skills Gap in the Middle East survey, May 2016, show that it is still challenging for employers to find candidates with the required skill sets, particularly for senior positions. In fact, 57% of them say that finding candidates for senior positions with the required skills is difficult, with ‘soft skills’ regarded as most lacking. Skills such as ‘critical thinking’ (63%), ‘creative thinking’ (63%) and ‘adaptability’ (60%) are seen by employers as the most difficult skills to find at a senior level.
So what skills should you be looking for when hiring senior candidates? And how can you assess whether or not a candidate has them? We asked respondents in the Bayt.com Skills Gap in the Middle East survey what they thought were the most important “soft” skills in senior-level candidates.
Here’s a list of the top 7 soft skills you should be looking for when hiring senior candidates:
1. Collaboration/ Teamwork (88%)
It is no surprise that employers in the Bayt.com Skills Gap in the Middle East survey rated collaboration and teamwork as the highest sought-after “soft” skill in senior candidates. Not only does this indicate that a senior-level hire can work well with peers and managers, but it also means that they can manage a team and delegate tasks effectively while motivating and helping the team when needed.
2. Efficiency (87%)
An employee who can get things done will run a team that gets things done too! Being proactive and action-oriented is a key quality for every senior candidate. It can be difficult to assess, though, without some digging and questioning. In order to hire a go-getter or over-achiever, start by researching the candidate. Candidates with a lot of interests, affiliations and extracurricular activities are your best bet. During the job interview, ask questions that will reveal a little about their attitude towards work. Knowing this gives you a peak into what motivates them and truly keeps them going.
3. Communication skills (85%)
It is important that a senior-level employee has the ability to build clear and open channels of communication with other departments, managers and subordinates, as well as effectively communicate and train staff on certain aspects of the job. You can evaluate this skill by observing the candidate throughout the job interview. Are they clear and candid in answering your questions? Do they engage in conversation with you? Do they have the ability to convey their thoughts effectively? These are all indicators of good communication skills.
4. Personality and demeanor (85%)
This is a more subjective trait, which is essentially determined by your company culture. Generally speaking, the qualities to look for when assessing personality are confidence, attire and professionalism. Pay attention to a candidate’s appearance and how they walk into the job interview. Was the candidate well dressed? Was he polite? Did he use proper language? According to the Bayt.com ‘Influence of Personal Appearance on Hiring Decisions’ poll, March 2013, 76.4% of polled respondents believe that hiring decisions are greatly influenced by a candidate’s personal appearance.
5. Leadership (84%)
Leadership is not so much about directing others as it is about empowering them. Assess the candidate’s past experiences, take a look at their referrals and ask questions about how they feel they were essential for their team’s motivation, growth and success. Another important trait is vision. Ask them: In what direction do you think the business needs to go? Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years? How do you envision achieving that? A candidate with strong vision will have much better odds at ensuring growth and success than one without.
6. Ability to work under pressure (84%)
Employees in senior positions must be able to perform a variety of tasks and juggle projects, all in a fast-paced, challenging and constantly changing corporate environment. Many times, deadlines come suddenly and timelines are short; other times, problems may arise which seem almost impossible to solve. A candidate who can work effectively and efficiently under pressure is essential to the success of a company. During the job interview do a quick role-play to evaluate how a candidate makes decisions when it comes to operating under a set of challenges and a very tight deadline. You can also ask questions based on their behavioral competencies to see how they would tackle different situations. Ask them about actual scenarios, step by step, and then delve into more details for each scenario.
7. Planning/ Organizational skills (84%)
In order to effectively manage a team and keep a department running smoothly, a senior employee needs to have extensive organizational and planning skills. To get a glimpse into a candidate’s aptness in this aspect, ask for an example of a project that they initiated, planned and implemented, while assessing all the risks and contingencies, and how they handled each step of the process.
by Shobha Jaison
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com.
This article and all other intellectual property on Bayt.com is the property of Bayt.com. Reproduction of this article in any form is only permissible with written permission from Bayt.com.
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