The Role of Soft Skills in Hiring: What Employers Look For

Employers are increasingly prioritising soft skills when making hiring decisions.

In today’s competitive job market, having the right technical skills in no longer enough to secure a position. But what are soft skills, and why are they so important?

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills, often referred to as interpersonal or people skills, are non-technical abilities that relate to how you work and interact with others. These include:

  • Communication: The ability to convey information effectively and efficiently.
  • Teamwork: The capacity to work well with others to achieve common goals.
  • Problem-Solving: The knack for identifying solutions to complex issues.
  • Adaptability: Being flexible and able to adjust to new conditions or challenges.
  • Leadership: Guiding and motivating a team towards success.
  • Work Ethic: Demonstrating dedication, reliability, and a strong sense of responsibility.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing your own emotions, and recognising and influencing the emotions of others.
Why are Soft Skills Important?

Enhanced Collaboration:

Soft skills like communication and teamwork are crucial for creating a collaborative environment. When employees communicate effectively and work well together, productivity increases, and projects run more smoothly.

Improved Problem-Solving:

Employers value employees who can think critically and solve problems efficiently. Soft skills such as crucial thinking and creativity enables individuals to approach challenges from different angles and come up with innovative solutions.

Adaptability to Change:

In today’s fast-paced work environment, the ability to adapt to change is essential. Employers look for candidates who can handle the unexpected and remain effective in dynamic situations.

Positive Work Culture:

Employees with strong soft skills contribute to a positive workplace culture. They are often more empathetic, respectful, and able to handle conflicts constructively, leading to a more harmonious and productive work environment.

Leadership Potential:

Leadership isn’t just about managing a team; it’s about inspiring and motivating others. Soft skills such as emotional intelligence and effective communication are key traits of successful leaders.

How Employers Assess Soft Skills:

Employers use various methods to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills during the hiring process.

Behavioural Interviews:

Interviewers ask candidates to describe past experiences that demonstrate their soft skills. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult problem at work.”

Situation Judgement Tests:

These assessments present hypothetical scenarios to candidates, who must choose the most appropriate response. This helps employers gauge decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

Role-Playing Exercises:

Candidates are asked to participate in role-playing exercises that mimic real-life work situations. This allows employers to observe their interpersonal and communication skills in action.

Reference Checks:

Talking to a candidate’s previous employers or colleagues can provide insights into their soft skills and how they interact with others in a professional setting.


When technical skills and experience are critical, soft skills are increasingly becoming the differentiator in hiring decisions. They enhance collaboration, improve problem-solving, and contribute to a positive work environment.

So, as you prepare for your next job interview, remember to highlight not just what you know, but how you work with others and approach challenges.

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