10 Skills and Qualities That Employers Want to See in Candidates

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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question on jobs data you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

This Week’s Question: Hiring new employees is a complex process — and we’re not going to pretend it isn’t. But, in general, what skill matters most to you when hiring? What skill — hard or soft — can make or break an applicant’s chances of landing the role?

Marc1. Interest

The most important consideration for me when hiring is the candidate’s interest. More than anything, you want to hire an employee who can stay motivated to grow and adapt to the position. But motivation is very difficult to judge in an interview. Interest, however, is a great indicator that a candidate will stay motivated. And interest is very easy to evaluate. That’s why I love to ask the old interview question: ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ The questions they ask are a better indicator of their interest than practically any other step of the job application process.

Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business 

Miles2. Alignment With Our Core Values

No matter the position, we hire the same way. We look for people who exhibit our core values — people who are passionate, dependable, adaptable, helpful, resilient, and who communicate well. Your values will look different, but the importance remains the same. If you only hire people that embody the key attributes that your company values, you can’t go wrong.

Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com 

John3. People Skills

There is virtually no role in any company where a little bit of each of the following skills isn’t imperative: people skills, conflict resolution, and problem solving. Without these three skills, it’s difficult for an employee to function as an effective part of a team.

John Jersin, Connectifier 

Andrea4. The Ability to Multitask

I look for the ability to multitask above all other skills, and I ask for demonstrable examples where this skill has been used to achieve success. People who are easily flustered can shift the energy in an organization and will definitely impact the dynamics of a small team. The ability to work on several tasks in a calm manner is essential to success.

Andrea Berkman Donlon, The Constant Professional 

Jay5. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) includes self-management and self-awareness. It is the ability to be aware of your emotions and manage your behavior. EI also includes social competence, which is the ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviors, and motives in order to improve the quality of your relationships. If a candidate can manage themselves, stay cool under pressure, and understand how they are with others, then chances for success are high.

Jay Candelario, Candelario Insurance Advisors 

Roy6. Attitude

I can’t fix a bad attitude, and a bad attitude is also infectious. I was once told the when you sit across from a candidate, you should ask yourself, ‘What is their attitude, and do I want others catching it?’ To uncover a candidate’s attitude, try to get them into a comfortable environment, not the traditional behind-the-desk interview. Go to a patio and have lunch or coffee. Put them in a relaxed environment, and you will be surprised what comes out.

Roy Barker, Moore Diversified Services 

Alan7. The “Get Sh*t Done” Gene

I look for one thing in a manager that I call the ‘get sh*t done’ gene, or the ‘get ‘er done’ gene. This is an extremely rare commodity that is practically as unobtainium as common sense. It is the difference between a manager who sits quietly at their desk waiting to be micromanaged, or who puts all of their talent into avoiding the wheel of blame, and a manager who is able to do their job — which is getting sh*t done.

One tests for this by giving the candidate situations and asking how they would handle them. If the answer includes the word ‘communication,’ I probably have a manager on my hands.

Alan Robbins, Moose WorldWide Digital 

J.8. Intelligence

What matters the most to me when hiring is intelligence. I realize that’s a quality. As a skill, it manifests as knowledge, the ability to apply that knowledge and learn more, and the ability to solve problems. When I hire a new employee, they must be smarter than I am — if not in all ways, then at least in all ways related to their area of expertise. I firmly believe that if I’m the smartest person in my company, then I’m in trouble.

J. Colin Petersen, J – I.T. Outsource 

Lisa9. Will

Will over skill! Will is the soft ‘skill’ that aligns with a personal affective nature. It is what motivates a person to take action — or not. With 20 years’ experience coaching small business owners and recruiting in corporate America, I know that ‘will’ cannot be taught. If I find an individual that is missing some of the hard skills, I can teach them those skills. But no amount of education or training will teach someone to ‘want to’ do the job and do it well. That comes from inside of them.

Lisa Baker-King, Zebecs 

Jennifer10. Coachability

When it comes down to the final few candidates, it matters less what the skill sets are. If the candidate is unwilling to learn and be coached, then they are not a good fit for the company. If the candidate is coachable, that will tip the process in their favor. Missing skills can be taught and improved upon.

In addition, a candidate that has been coached tends to have a greater loyalty to the company that has brought them up and taught them the skills that they need. The company is also more likely to promote someone who has
been coached and has proven that they can grow, adapt, and succeed.

Jennifer Maffei, Virtual EA Services, LLC 

By Recruiter Q&A