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What Qualities to Watch For in Candidates During Job Interviews

You’ve just sorted through dozens of resumes and cover letters and are about to coordinate interviews with prospective employees for a position at your company. If you’ve never tackled such a task before, you might feel a little nervous. You may not know what questions to ask candidates. 

While having experience and technical skills are both crucial to any job, it’s also vital that your employees demonstrate soft qualities, such as people and social skills. If you’re unsure how to identify such traits, check out these qualities that executive search firm recruiters watch out for in candidates during interviews.

Effective Communication 

Identifying communication skills can be tricky during a job interview. How can you tell if the person is a good communicator from a one-hour meeting? Watch for body language. Is the person maintaining eye contact with you? Are they actively listening by nodding their head as you speak and pausing before responding to your questions? Does it feel like you’re having a conversation, or is it more one-sided? 

Take such questions into consideration. If there’s a flow to the interview conversation, you’ll know the candidate is capable of listening well and thinking quickly on their feet. You’ll also want to ask specific questions such as, how do you handle stress? Or, do you prefer working independently or in a team?


You want to work with self-starters—individuals who cultivate meaningful relationships and whom other employees admire. As you ask candidates questions, pay attention to how they’ve handled challenging situations in previous positions. Ask what processes they take to achieve their goals. Another good idea is to ask what kind of leadership style they prefer in a manager or supervisor.


Unless the position is entirely solitary, you’re looking for a candidate who is capable of completing excellent work independently but also a team player. Working together as a team generates ideas, creativity, and strengthens morale. It increases employees’ yearning for success and will encourage them to work harder. Look at your candidates’ experience with teamwork and observe how they interact with others as they reply to your questions.

Interpersonal Skills

Some roles require stronger interpersonal (or social) skills than others. For example, if you’re hiring for an upper management or executive position, such skills should be at the top of your list because you’re hiring someone who will engage with clients and the public. But such a skillset is relevant for any position. Consider the following questions before hiring a potential employee:

  • Can you picture yourself working with this person?
  • How well do you think a candidate would relate with the rest of your team? 
  • Do they convey empathy when they speak? 
  • Do they provide insight or humour to the conversation? 

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, move on to the next candidate. 

Hiring takes significant time and effort. Your best bet is to work with a professional recruitment agency. They’ll bring experience and expertise to the hiring process, and you won’t have to worry about a thing. All you’ll have to do is welcome your new, perfectly-suited employee to the team.

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