by Josh Millar
Especially when you’re interviewing a number of candidates, it’s easy to focus in on experience and achievements. As a manager, you want someone who has something to offer your team and who’s going to contribute to its success. While those specific qualifications are important, there are several qualities that are often undervalued when it comes to selecting the best candidate for your team. Many of these fall under the category of soft skills. I’m not suggesting you prioritize soft skills over the hard skills you know an employee needs to succeed. However, sometimes it can be incredibly beneficial for an employer to give those soft skills more attention. Boil the hard skills down to your essentials. When you’re looking for someone not only to do a job, but also to be a part of a team, paying attention to those soft skills can help you choose the best candidate.
Empathy is rarely a quality listed on someone’s resume, but it’s absolutely worth considering in a potential hire. Managers often pay attention to confidence and self-assuredness, and for good reason. These qualities tend to point to someone who can work independently and take initiative. If you’re focused on creating a strong team though, you want to look for whether that person has qualities that will allow them to succeed not only as an individual but also as a part of a team. The ability to understand where others are coming from and consider their perspective when making decisions is a great indicator that someone will maximize the success of your team.
While no one is likely to hire a candidate who comes off as rude or unpleasant in their interview, positivity isn’t always taken into account. Did the candidate have a smile, good energy, and make you feel comfortable? When discussing past experiences and outlooks for the future, did they express optimism? Positivity doesn’t mean they’re not grounded or realistic. Someone with a positive disposition can be a great addition to a team because they can motivate and boost morale, and they’re less likely to encounter conflict with those on their team.
Does the candidate have an open mind and a desire to learn? Candidates often feel like they need to know it all to ace an interview. And sometimes, hiring managers make it feel that way. Create some space in your interview to let your candidate tell you about what interests them and what they want to learn more about. Let them show you their desire and willingness to grow in their career. Depending on the position, it’s often much more beneficial to your team to bring on a candidate who is eager to learn than someone who thinks they know everything.
Like most soft skills, this one feels rather intangible and isn’t typically found on a resume. It’s much easier to pick up on in the way a candidate speaks, how they describe their past experiences, and what their goals look like for the future. It might be enthusiasm for the work they’re doing or for being a part of your company and team. When you encounter a candidate with excitement and drive, it’s a great sign that they’ll bring that energy to your team.
Let candidates demonstrate this one for you. Has their experience so far consisted of a punch-in-punch-out job, or have they intentionally found ways to immerse themselves in the work they’re passionate about? Have they taken additional classes, gotten a promotion, reached a goal? Even getting into the books they read or the blogs they follow can give you a glimpse into where their passion lies. Passion is probably the best source of motivation out there. It’s better than money, perks, pressure, and responsibility. It also can be contagious. When you bring someone onto your team who really values the work they’re doing and is excited about it, that attitude can spread to your whole team.
You don’t have to throw out the skills you usually look for in a candidate. But including these qualities on your list is a great way to find someone who will not only be a good employee himself, but who will also be a productive, motivating, and successful part of a team. What qualities do you look for when considering a new addition to your team? Let us know in the comments.