Target High-Potential Candidates with the 7-Item List of Skills for Employment
As part of the recruitment process, employers usually seek a combination of soft and hard skills. Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be easily measured, such as proficiency in a foreign language or programming, and soft skills are more nuanced, encompassing traits like teamwork, communication, and adaptability. These intangible qualities can be difficult to evaluate but are equally important for success in the workplace.
The unique challenge for businesses lies in assessing these soft skills during the hiring process, as they cannot be reliably tested like hard skills. Ignoring the importance of soft skills can negatively impact the entire organization, leading to costly mistakes in hiring. In fact, 89% of HR professionals say bad hires typically lack soft skills.
To tackle these challenges, our carefully curated list of skills for employment focuses on the essential soft skills to look for during interviews. You should also test job-specific skills, ideally with assessments created by industry experts, such as those offered by Workello. By combining these approaches, businesses can better identify well-rounded candidates and build successful teams.
1) Communication Skills
Good communication skills are the building blocks of positive relationships and smooth teamwork in any work setting. They enable people to share their thoughts clearly, listen to others, and create a friendly work atmosphere. These are the 3 key communication skills:
Oral communication—the ability to express oneself clearly and confidently in spoken interactions
Written communication—the capacity to convey ideas and information effectively through writing
Active listening—the skill of attentively and empathetically hearing others to understand their perspectives
These skills enable employees to effectively share ideas, collaborate with colleagues, and understand the needs of clients or customers. Other communication skills include nonverbal communication, presentation skills, assertiveness, and persuasion.
To evaluate written communication skills, you can give candidates a specific writing assignment. Workello offers a writing skills assessment that lets you identify the top 1% of your writing candidates as Workello’s automation seamlessly moves them through the recruitment funnel.
To evaluate a candidate’s communication skills during an interview, ask open-ended questions that encourage them to articulate their thoughts clearly. Take note of their ability to convey complex ideas concisely, and observe their listening skills as they respond to your questions. Do they fully address your question, or do they seem to miss the point? Active listeners are more likely to provide thoughtful and relevant responses.
• Oral communication
• Written communication
• Active listening
• Nonverbal communication
• Presentation skills
• Ask open-ended questions that encourage candidates to articulate their thoughts clearly
• Observe their ability to convey complex ideas concisely
• Observe their listening skills
• Give candidates a specific writing assignment
2) Problem-Solving Skills
Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in recent years, but problem-solving skills remain among the least likely to be convincingly replicated by AI. Human problem-solving often involves intuition and creativity, which are difficult for AI to emulate. This is one of the reasons why soft skills now take a central place in recruitment strategies.
Solid problem-solving skills let people break down complicated issues, think outside the box, and make well-informed decisions. The most important problem-solving skills to have are:
Analytical thinking—the capability to break down complex problems into manageable parts and identify the root causes
Creativity and innovation—the aptitude for developing new ideas and thinking outside the box
Decision-making—the ability to evaluate options and choose the most appropriate course of action
Employees with these skills can identify issues and generate innovative solutions. Problem-solving abilities extend beyond the listed skills to include critical thinking, risk assessment and management, resourcefulness, and troubleshooting.
During the interview process, assess candidates’ problem-solving skills by presenting them with hypothetical scenarios or real-life situations that they might encounter in their role. Ask them to explain their thought process and describe the steps they would take to resolve the issue. You can also ask questions that prompt the candidate to share past experiences where they demonstrated problem-solving abilities. Questions like, “Can you describe a difficult problem you faced at work and how you resolved it?” will provide insights into their approach. Ask follow-up questions to understand the candidate’s thought process and the factors they considered when making decisions.
• Present hypothetical scenarios or real-life situations to assess problem-solving approach
• Ask about past experiences demonstrating problem-solving abilities
• Request explanations of thought processes and steps taken to resolve issues
• Assess their ability to think critically, manage risks, and troubleshoot during discussions
3) Teamwork Skills
According to a report by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly hired staff fail after 18 months, and only 11% of them do so because of a lack of technical abilities. Soft skill issues are the main cause of failure for newcomers. The 2 main reasons new hires fail are the unwillingness to accept and implement feedback, and the lack of emotional intelligence, which suggests that these are the most important skills to look for when hiring.
Source: Leadership IQ
Teamwork skills help create a supportive environment where everyone can contribute their best. Key teamwork skills that make a difference are:
Collaboration—the skill of working effectively with others to achieve a common goal
Emotional intelligence—the capacity to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of others
Conflict resolution—the ability to address and resolve disagreements constructively
Employees with these skills can effectively cooperate with their colleagues and empathize with others. Additional teamwork skills encompass active participation, trust-building, encouraging others, and recognizing contributions.
To evaluate these skills during interviews, ask candidates about their experiences working in teams and inquire about specific instances where they resolved conflicts or contributed to a group’s success. Present hypothetical scenarios that involve teamwork and ask the candidate how they would handle the situation. Look for evidence of empathy and a willingness to put the team’s needs above their own.
• Inquire about experiences working in teams and resolving conflicts
• Request examples of contributing to a group's success
• Present hypothetical scenarios involving teamwork and assess responses
• Look for evidence of empathy and a team-first attitude
• Observe how they interact with other candidates or staff during the interview process
4) Adaptability Skills
Adaptability skills are valuable for staying ahead in today’s fast-changing work landscape. According to a 2020 Harvard Business School poll of 1,500 CEOs from more than 90 countries, 71% of respondents thought adaptability was the most crucial trait of a leader in the digital era.
Source: Harvard Business School
Adaptability skills help people adjust to new situations, embrace change, and keep learning. Here are the most important ones:
Flexibility—the ability to modify one’s approach or methods in response to changing circumstances or new information
Resilience—the capacity to recover quickly from setbacks, maintain a positive attitude, and persevere in the face of challenges
Learning agility—the ability to learn from experience, apply knowledge to new situations, and quickly adapt to new information or technologies
Employees with these traits demonstrate a willingness to evolve, bounce back from adversity, and rapidly absorb new concepts or skills. Open-mindedness, tolerance for uncertainty, a proactive mindset, and navigating transitions are also important adaptability skills to consider.
To assess adaptability during interviews, ask candidates about their experiences with change, how they have adapted to new roles or situations, and how they learn from their mistakes. Questions like, “Can you describe a time when you had to adapt to a sudden change at work?” or “Tell me about a situation where you had to learn a new skill quickly” will give you insights into their adaptability. Look for evidence of a growth mindset and a willingness to embrace new challenges. You can intentionally introduce small changes or surprises during the interview process and observe how the candidate reacts. This will give you an idea of how well they handle unexpected situations and adapt to them.
• Learning agility
• Tolerance for uncertainty
• A proactive mindset
• Navigating transitions
• Ask about experiences with change and adapting to new roles or situations
• Request examples of learning from mistakes or acquiring new skills quickly
• Look for evidence of a growth mindset and willingness to embrace challenges
• Introduce small changes or surprises during the interview and observe reactions
5) Self-Management Skills
The self-management skill wave gained momentum in 2020, propelled by the shift to remote work. As employees transitioned from in-person interactions to virtual check-ins, they embraced the challenge of becoming their own managers, discovering newfound autonomy, and maintaining productivity levels in the process. Self-management skills are helpful for staying organized, motivated, and focused on personal and professional growth. They enable individuals to take charge of their own work and make the most of their time. If you’re hiringremote workers, then it’s essential to make sure that they have the following skills:
Time management—the ability to prioritize tasks and use time effectively to accomplish goals
Self-motivation—the drive to take initiative and complete tasks without constant supervision
Continuous learning—the commitment to staying up-to-date with industry trends and enhancing one’s own skills
Employees with these skills can work independently and continually improve their knowledge and skills. Besides the mentioned skills, goal-setting, emotional regulation, stress management, and self-awareness are also valuable.
During interviews, ask candidates about their time management strategies, how they stay motivated, and what steps they take to keep up with industry developments. Look for evidence of self-discipline and a commitment to professional growth. Pay attention to the candidate’s punctuality, preparedness, and overall organization during the interview process.
• Ask about their time management strategies and personal goal-setting
• Request examples of how they keep up with industry developments
• Observe punctuality, preparedness, and overall organization during the interview
• Look for evidence of self-discipline and a proactive attitude
6) Leadership Skills
As the saying goes, people don’t quit their job—they quit their boss. A recent survey showed that a whopping 76% of employees either have or have had toxic bosses. On the other hand, recruiting candidates with leadership skills for managerial roles helps create a positive work culture where everyone feels valued and supported. These skills play a significant role in inspiring, guiding, and empowering team members to achieve their full potential.
These are the 3 key leadership skills:
Delegation—the ability to assign tasks and responsibilities to team members effectively, ensuring efficient use of resources and successful project completion
Vision—the capacity to create and communicate a clear, inspiring, and achievable vision for the future, motivating team members to strive towards common goals
Empowerment—encouraging and supporting team members to take ownership of their work, fostering a sense of responsibility and commitment
These skills ensure that a team functions effectively and harmoniously. Strategic planning, coaching and mentoring, accountability and responsibility, and a results-oriented mindset are also important leadership skills.
During interviews, you can ask candidates to provide examples from their past experiences that demonstrate their leadership skills. Questions like, “Can you describe a time when you had to delegate tasks effectively?” or “Tell me about a situation where you had to communicate a vision to your team” will give you insights into their leadership abilities. Inquire about their experiences with empowering team members, as well as any coaching or mentoring situations they’ve been involved in. Observing candidates’ communication styles, confidence, and ability to build rapport during the interview can also provide insights into their leadership potential.
• Strategic planning
• Coaching and mentoring
• Accountability and responsibility
• A results-oriented mindset
• Ask for specific examples of delegation
• Request situations where they communicated a vision
• Observe communication styles during the interview
• Assess confidence and rapport-building abilities
• Discuss experiences with empowering team members
• Inquire about coaching or mentoring experiences
7) Organizational Skills
Source: Glasbergen Cartoon Service
Effective organizational skills are important for professionals to manage their workload efficiently and deliver high-quality results. Thee following main organizational skills help employees deal with the challenges of modern workplaces:
Prioritization—the ability to determine the importance of tasks and allocate resources effectively to accomplish goals in a timely manner
Attention to detail—the skill of carefully reviewing and managing all aspects of a task or project, ensuring accuracy and high-quality results
Multitasking—the capacity to manage multiple tasks or projects simultaneously, maintaining focus and productivity under pressure
Employees with these qualities can plan their time and effort wisely for success. Other significant organizational skills include project management, scheduling and planning, workflow optimization, and goal tracking and monitoring.
To assess these organizational skills during interviews, consider asking behavioral and situational questions that require them to discuss their experiences with managing tasks, projects, or goals. For example: “Describe a situation when you had to pay close attention to detail to complete a project successfully. What steps did you take to ensure accuracy?” or “Tell me about a time when you had to reassess your priorities to meet a tight deadline. How did you adjust your plans?” Additionally, observe how well-prepared they are for the interview, and the quality of the materials they provide, such as resumes or portfolios.
• Attention to detail
• Project management
• Scheduling and planning
• Workflow optimization
• Goal tracking and monitoring
• Ask questions about past experiences with managing tasks, projects, or goals
• Request examples of situations that required attention to detail and prioritization
• Inquire about their experience with multitasking and handling tight deadlines
• Observe the candidate's preparedness for the interview
• Assess the quality of provided materials, such as resumes or portfolios
Hiring for Good Employment Skills with Workello
In the recruitment process, employers must assess both hard and soft skills to find the best candidates. While hard skills can be easily measured, soft skills are more nuanced but equally important for workplace success. Essential soft skills for employment are communication, problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability, self-management, leadership, and organizational skills. Good communication, adaptability, and teamwork skills foster a positive work environment, while problem-solving and organizational skills ensure efficient, high-quality results. Self-management is crucial for remote workers, and strong leadership skills create a supportive work culture where employees feel valued.
Businesses can better identify top candidates and build successful teams by evaluating these skills during interviews and using job-specific assessments. Workello is a powerful, yet affordableskills assessment platform, that boasts an extensive template library as well as an assessment builder. Initially designed to test writers, Workello now offers skills assessments for any role. Moreover, Workello also doubles as an applicant tracking system (ATS) with a fully automated hiring funnel. With just one click, you can send assessments, reject candidates, invite candidates to interviews, or make job offers. With Workello, you will never miss out on a great candidate. Try it out for free here.
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