Four Soft Skills to Look For When Hiring Leaders

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Companies thrive when they have the people they need in every position, from front-line work to leadership.  But the practical skills that make an employee great “in the field” don’t always make the same employee a great leader.

Here are four soft skills to look for when it’s time to hire for a management or leadership position:


Knowing how to do a task and knowing how to teach someone else to do it are two separate skill sets.  Both are essential for leadership.  Seek leaders who make open, thorough, two-way communication a priority as they lead.  When examining a candidate’s communication skills, consider not only how well they teach or give instructions, but how they handle questions and offer feedback as well.

Sample Interview Question: “Tell us about a time you had to offer criticism or feedback on someone else’s work.  How did you go about it?”


Good leaders often rise to leadership positions because they can handle just about any task competently.  Great leaders, however, know that just because they can do the work doesn’t mean they should.  A leader who delegates efficiently ensures that more work is done, that deadlines are met, and that his or her own energy is saved for tasks only the leader can handle.

Sample Interview Question: “Give us an example of a time you should have delegated a task, but didn’t.  What did you learn?”

Planning and Prioritizing

Leaders need to have a “big picture” view of the company’s goals, and they need to understand how the work of their team and its individual members contributes to those overall goals.  But leaders also need to be good at breaking down the team’s tasks into manageable work, making sure key tasks are done on time, and that the most important work is done first – in short, planning and prioritizing.

Sample Interview Question: “When have you led or managed a project too big to accomplish on your own?  How did you approach it?

Conflict Resolution

Among human beings, conflicts are inevitable.  A good leader tries to minimize conflicts and build consensus, while also realizing that some sources of conflict also provide golden opportunities for creative thinking and problem solving.  Leaders with superior conflict resolution skills will look for ways to reduce conflict on their teams and will quickly address brewing problems before they get out of hand.

Sample Interview Question: “When has a disagreement threatened your team’s ability to complete its work?  What did you do?”

At Burnett’s Staffing, our recruiters screen candidates for both technical expertise and soft-skill strength in our quest to match the right candidate with the right company – every time.  Contact us today to learn more about our recruiting services in Dallas and beyond.

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