What are hiring managers really looking for?

Crawford Thomas Recruiting Blog

Soft Skills are something that everyone possesses to some degree, but are intangible.

Soft Skills can be listed as: Communication, Teamwork, Problem Solving, Time Management, Attitude and Work Ethic.

The question is, how do you assess something you cannot measure? Executive Chairman of Starbucks Howard Schultz once said, “Hiring people is an art, not a science. And resumes cannot tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.” This astute observation by the American businessman sums up the importance of assessing a job seeker for their soft skills — not just what’s on paper.

As a hiring manager, it is your responsibility to evaluate potential employees before, during, and after an interview. While it may seem as simple as reviewing a resume; or comparing your company’s requirements to the candidate’s qualifications, there is so much more to it. Employers are looking for Soft Skills, also known as ‘employability skills’. Unfortunately, these are intangible.

While resumes may sound impressive, assessing a job-seeker for soft skills plays a key role in promoting effectiveness in a company’s hiring process. Glassdoor explains several Soft Skills to assess in the interview process.

How do you assess something so intangible? According to Glassdoor, they recommend looking for the following while interviewing candidates.

Company Knowledge

Quizzing a candidate over knowledge about your company as well as past employers, if any, is an effective way to assess their soft skills. Answers indicate an interest in the profession and industry. They will also show whether an interviewee is well prepared and is serious about the job or is eyeing the vacancy merely as another employment options.

Composure Under Stress

The ability to work under stress is critical for many positions, especially when hiring for more senior roles. One good way to evaluate this skill is by asking a candidate to tell you about a stressful period at work and how they responded. You can also simply evaluate their behavior during the interview. Fumbling to respond or getting frustrated indicate the person may have a hard time working under stress or pressure.


A jobseeker that walks in with a rough outer appearance and salty language, for example, may not take their role seriously enough. What’s more, they could make other employees and customers uncomfortable with their behavior.

Body Language

Body language betrays a lot. Observing body language will enable you to learn a bit about a jobseeker’s interpersonal skills. Also, it can help inform whether the interviewee is lying or answering a question honestly.

Modern workplaces demand that all employees possess soft skills. Indeed, soft skills can be more difficult to acquire than professional degrees and experience. Without them, any hard skills are far less valuable. So when screening candidates, don’t just try to uncover how well they know a particular software program or platform — get to the heart of how they interact with others.

Thank you to Lisa Parker of Glassdoor for her incredible insight on the topic.

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Crawford Thomas RecruitingWhat are hiring managers really looking for?