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What Are “Employability Skills” – How Do Employers Identify These Skills?

What Are “Employability Skills” – How Do Employers Identify These Skills?

Hiring people is an art, not a science. More often than not, resumes may be not an accurate reflection of whether a candidate is a suitable fit for a company. This sums up the importance of assessing a job seeker for their soft skills–not just what’s on paper.

What are “employability skills”?

Also known as “soft skills”, “employability skills” can determine whether a candidate will be a good fit for one’s company. “Soft skills” are defined by Business Dictionary as “a group of essential abilities that involve the development of a knowledge base, expertise level, and mindset that is increasingly necessary for success in the modern workplace. For new recruits to fit into the corporate culture and be productive, soft skills are a prerequisite.

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.

But, how do employers assess something so intangible? The following factors are taken into consideration to assess soft skills.


The first impression a job seeker imparts speaks a lot about themselves. A job seeker that walks in with a dishevelled appearance and deplorable language, for example, may not take their role seriously enough. What’s more, they could make other employees and customers uncomfortable with their behaviour.

Body language

Body language makes a huge impact. Observing body language will enable you to learn a bit about a job seeker’s interpersonal skills. It can help inform whether the interviewee is lying or answering a question honestly. Jittery job seekers are generally diffident about themselves and unsure whether they can meet your standards. They doubt their own abilities and may end up as under performers.

Problem-solving skills

Regardless of the nature of your business, problem-solving skills are essential for every employee. Candidates who cannot troubleshoot are unable to provide customer care, address issues faced by business associates or assist colleagues and seniors in the event of any internal problems. Questions on how to solve a problem usually aids a prospective employer to determine whether a candidate possesses this vital skill.

Awareness about current issues

It is vital for candidates to be aware of major issues affecting the world, country, and local economy and the ability to form an opinion regarding the same. Knowledge about these issues and opinions suggest that the job seeker is alert and responsive. It also indicates adaptability to adverse situations, since such candidates will usually possess abilities to respond effectively. Issues and opinions can reflect traits such as positivity, skepticism and negative thoughts. Admittedly, these thoughts may vary according to the issue. A candidate may be positive about something or negative about another. Yet, such awareness would also helps the employer to assess a candidate’s overall capabilities and traits since every flip side also has positives.

Memberships of clubs/organisations

Memberships of clubs and organisations are a clear indicator of a candidate’s social and collaborative skills. Such individuals generally tend to become great team players. Additionally, it also indicates the candidate spends time on constructive activities such as sports or even politics.

Psychometric tests

An increasing number of employers worldwide now utilise psychometric tests to gauge a candidate’s behaviour and mental aptitude for a job. Additionally, psychometric tests helps a company to assess an applicant’s analytical and pedagogic skills essential for any role. They are particularly useful in finding hidden traits of a job seeker that are often overlooked during an interview. However, there are debates worldwide over the effectiveness of these tests to assess soft skills and hidden talents as well as negative traits of an individual. Some psychologists and Human Resource experts vouch for their reliability, while others claim the results provide inconclusive results –so if you choose to use them, do so cautiously.

Company knowledge

Being quizzed over knowledge about the company as well as past employers, if any, is another effective way to access a candidate’s soft skills. Answers indicate an interest in the profession and industry. It shows whether a candidate is well prepared and is serious about the job or is eyeing the vacancy merely as another employment option. Sometimes, the answer can also reveal traits such as a willingness to adapt to a new work environment and spirit of collaboration to ensure personal success as well as that of an organisation.

Composure under stress

The ability to work under stress is critical for many positions, especially when applying for more senior roles. When an interviewer asks about how you manage stress and explain such a situation, your behaviour and how you answer will be evaluated during the interview. Fumbling to respond or getting frustrated will indicate that you may have a hard time working under stress or pressure.

Ability to work with diverse groups

Companies, just like the country in general, have become increasingly diverse in recent years. Walk into any major multinational company and you’ll find people of different backgrounds in terms of education and beliefs collaborating and thriving together.

If an employee has a hard time working with anybody who thinks or acts differently from them, it can be hard for them to succeed. If you are asked how you have collaborated with people who have had a very different perspective than yours, be sure it’s not an answer that suggests how you steamrolled another person’s ideas or refused to listen to them, you probably are giving an impression that you won’t perform well in a diverse team.

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.

It is best practice for candidates to not only prove how well they know a particular software program or platform, mastering the art of communicating with others is equally important.