Name one thing that’s guaranteed to change. Here, I’ll go first: the workforce.

Since the workforce changes so rapidly, employers need candidates who can stay current. And by that, we mean candidates have to be skilled not just in hard skills, but in soft skills, too. It all boils down to one simple question: Can candidates play nice with others?

You be the judge. Take a look at 7 top soft skills employers plan to look out for in their 2018 hires. 

1. Leadership

An organization with high-quality leaders is 13x more likely to outperform its competition. That said, it’s no surprise that leadership tops the list of most important soft skills. An individual with natural leadership skills will drive the change a company needs to grow. Not much convincing needs to be had here beyond that, right?

To gauge leadership skills, ask candidates:

“When was the last time something major didn’t go your way at work? What was your role, and what was the outcome?”

2. Emotional intelligence

Despite the paranoia of a hostile AI takeover, human relationships aren’t going anywhere. As it stands, emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of rarest, most sought-after traits in the biz world. For a good reason, too: Someone with a high EQ is emotionally self-aware, empathetic toward others’ emotions, and can (rationally) apply emotions to tasks like problem-solving.

Recruiters and hiring managers could ask a myriad of questions to screen for EQ, but these 2 are a good starting point:

– “Tell me about a time a client, boss, or direct report was disappointed with your work? What was your response?”

– “Take problem XYZ. Can you offer a win-win solution? If no, explain why.”


3. Collaboration

Here are some more numbers for you: 97% of executives and employees feel that a lack of collaboration and team alliance directly impacts the outcome of a project. Even if the major responsibilities of a role are independent, a workplace in itself is a collaborative space. There’s really nowhere to hide.

Learn if a candidate can play nice and ask:

“Give an example of a time you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along. How did you handle your interactions with that person? What was the result?”

4. Problem-solving

It doesn’t matter if someone works for Facebook or a small startup, problems in the workplace are bound to happen. That’s why problem-solving is a soft skill that’ll never go out of style. Whether the problem is big or small, someone with the ability to identify a problem and tackle it objectively is someone employers want on their side.

To screen for problem-solving skills, ask candidates:

Describe a time you encountered a problem, developed a solution, and how the issue was resolved.”

Keep in mind that candidates don’t have to have the perfect answer to prove they can solve a problem. It’s just as valuable to say they sought out advice during a conflict.

5. Resiliency

Resiliency is the first cousin to problem-solving. While the two are similar, resiliency focuses on a candidate’s reaction to stress or failure. Since stress and failure are an unfortunate, yet inevitable part of life, hiring managers and recruiters need to get an idea of how candidates deal.

Ask candidates to:

“Describe the last time you got stressed at work. How did you cope, and what happened in the end?”

The candidate’s response will not only teach one how he copes, but also what types of situations cause his stress. If the recruiter or hiring manager knows those situations will, in fact, occur frequently, take him off the roster. Candidates who claim that work doesn’t stress them out at times should be out of the running, too. Like, immediately. It’s a sign he’s not a resilient individual after all.

6. Adaptability

69% of hiring managers agree that adaptable people are some of the best hires. They have more potential to just go with the flow, which sets them up for a longer tenure. An adaptable employee also has way more growth potential. And this is good for business; an employee who grows within an organization directly impacts the organization’s overall bottom line.

To screen for adaptability, recruiters and hiring manager should ask:

“Tell me about a time you were asked to do a task you’ve never done before. How did you react, and what did you learn?”


7. Willingness to learn

A newbie on the top soft skill list is the willingness to learn new skills. Candidates who are eager to improve and gain new skills (and actually make it happen) are top of mind for employers. A willingness to learn speaks volumes about a person’s character, level of motivation and dedication to a role, task, and even their career goals.

Find out if a candidate has the gall to learn new things and ask:

“Describe a situation that required you to learn a new skill, software, etc. to complete a project. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?

Side note: A candidate who’s willing to learn won’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder after some constructive criticism. Nobody likes a dude with a bad attitude. Double check if your candidate stinks of attitude, and ask him to:

“Explain a time you completed a project, received constructive criticism, and had to go back to the drawing board. What was your reaction?”

Need some extra recruiting help?

Obviously, we give a hoot about finding candidates with skills that make sense for our clients’ bottom line. If you’re looking for help with recruitment research or recruiting services, let us know. Talk to a real human using the chat function in the bottom right corner of your screen, or reach out the old-fashioned way through our contact form.