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How Can I Analyse a Candidate’s Intangible Skills?

Finding the right candidate for your vacancy can be difficult. Whilst it is easy to find out about their sales prowess or perhaps confirm the achievements they claim to have made in their previous roles, it is tricky to find those intangible skills that are important to you.

Whether you are looking for someone who can run an entire call centre or perhaps a friendly customer focused shop floor assistant, there are factors of their personality and interpersonal skills that you will see as vital.


This could be things such as attitude, calmness under pressure and common sense. All things that can make the difference between someone who “can do the job” to someone who “is the job”!


But how can you find these skills? Especially when you will often need to dig down even further than pure experience and qualifications.


We have put together a guide for uncovering those all-important intangible skills to make sure that you have the perfect candidate for your business.


So what are these magic skills?


Before you learn how to uncover the all-important tangible skills, you may want to learn more about each one and why they are so important. Here we discuss some of the most favoured skills seen in ideal candidates and how they can prove vital for your business.



Even in the best businesses there are going to be times when all hell breaks loose. What you will need are staff that can remain calm, cool and well, un-flapped by whatever may happen.



Intuition is a skill that gives you the ability to read between the lines and see things clearly and quickly. People who have good intuition are often able to make decisions quickly and with ease.



You should never underestimate the power of a smile. Whether it is the impact it has on your customers or simply the rest of the team around you; having someone that can draw laughter or simply turn up the corners of the mouth on a bad day is invaluable.



Confidence is often confused with arrogance. Arrogance can be a hugely negative trait, giving you the belief that you are better than everyone else, whereas confidence is simply the ability to trust in yourself.


Confident members are more likely to just “get on with their job”, believing in the choices that they have made and going with them.



Just as important as having faith in your own choices is having the ability to acknowledge when you have made a mistake. An honest employee will be willing to take responsibility for their actions and decisions and admit when something hasn’t gone quite the way they were planned.



Often a persuasive nature is something that will appeal to a company looking for sales people, however this isn’t the only way it can help. A persuasive employee can help you win over other members of staff and create a cohesive team that can lead you towards success.


Are there any negative intangible skills?


Just as there are positive personality traits there are also those that are negative. These are things that are not desirable in an employee and that you might want to avoid. The most common are poor time keeping, laziness and dis-organisation. All of which can have a detrimental effect on the job that they can do, as well as how they will fit in with your business.


So how do I spot them?


Now you know all about those all-important skills, you might wonder exactly how you can spot them in your candidates. Unfortunately for you, intangible skills are not always the easiest to spot and by their very nature they are not always obvious.


It is important that you look deeper into each application to make sure that you don’t overlook a good applicant. After all, just because someone doesn’t quite have the right qualifications for the role, that doesn’t mean that they won’t possess relevant experience of skills in the area.


The truth is that it is hard to pick up on the important traits that you are looking for with a CV alone; however, there is a good chance that you simply will not have enough time to personally interview each and every applicant face-to-face.


If you want to get a feel for the person, why not arrange a telephone interview instead? Often these are easier to arrange and you can set aside some of the questions that will help you to discover if they have the right intangible skills for your role.


The questions to ask


The best way to make sure that you assess your potential candidate for the right intangible skills is to list which ones are important to you. Once you have this list you can then begin to write down questions to ask that you think will give you a clue to their inner workings.


This is relevant whether you are having a face to face interview or a telephone one.


Here are some examples of great questions to ask:


› Can you tell me when you have had to use your initiative to solve a problem?

› How do you stay calm when faced with a difficult or stressful situation?

› What would you do if you made a mistake at work?


Of course, the trouble with asking these types of questions is that many candidates are prepared for these and will have formulated an answer already. They may even give you an insincere response if they feel it will help them to secure the role.


Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way that you can discover whether an answer is honest or not. Sometimes you can ask them to back up their claims further, but most of the time you are just going to have to hope that your own business antenna can pick up on the less than truthful responses.


Looking for intangible skills is a great first step to finding the right candidate for your role. Not only this but it is the foundation for an excellent working relationship with them too.


By understanding the deeper inner workings of them as a person you will know how best to shape their development, improve their skills and where they are going to fit best within your existing team, all leading to a very happy employee, who is going to work their hardest for you!

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