There’s tons of advice on how to evaluate soft skills at each stage of the hiring process. But, let’s take a step back for a moment, from the ‘how’ to the ‘what’: out of the dozens of soft skills and personality traits in existence, which exactly are the qualities of a good employee and candidate you should always look for?
Knowing these important qualities to look for in an employee means you have better chances of hiring the best people and avoiding the scary costs of making a bad hire.
So, we narrowed down the list to five critical job candidate qualities:
- Willingness to learn
- Culture fit
This doesn’t imply that you should evaluate only these skills and nothing else. But these are traits you should evaluate no matter the role you’re hiring for. Here’s why:
Most jobs require a degree of collaboration with other people – and sometimes managing others, as well. Even work that’s often seen as lonely, such as accounting or software development, may involve considerable input from other people. So unless you’re hiring for a truck driver or a night guard at a museum (which is an awesome job, by the way), you need people who are able to collaborate well with others.
2. Willingness to learn
Life-long learning is a must nowadays – new technology and knowledge come out all the time, and organizations and systems change. Whoever doesn’t learn risks staying behind, no matter their accumulated knowledge or position. A willingness, and ultimately, an ability to learn are very important qualities of a good employee – not just for learning new hard skills, but also for growing as a professional and as a person. The concept of adaptability is also one of the qualities of a good employee and candidate associated with willingness to learn.
Being skilled in communication doesn’t mean you have to be great with words or even really sophisticated and eloquent (although this helps). You need to be able to clearly get your message across, in verbal or written speech, and be able to grasp other people’s meaning (particularly through asking the right questions). Having issues with this can drastically impact job performance.
This trait is sometimes used by companies as a euphemism for “I won’t ask for a higher salary and will work long hours without complaining”. But that’s not what this skill is about (needless to say, you should always pay people a living wage and avoid overworking them). Self-motivation is about liking what you do enough to want to do a good job regardless of the external reward. Self-motivation can also be called “passion” – though this term might be a bit over the top.
5. Culture fit
The exact meaning of “culture fit” changes with every organization. But it’s not as simple as being about who you want to have lunch or an after-work drink with; it’s much more about who understands and embraces the workplace and mode of work, from the open-space layout to the dress code. Culture fit might even change among different teams. It’s a good idea to sit down with your team members and discuss about what constitutes culture fit for your team and narrow it down to specific traits or values.
Culled from Resources for Employers