What Do Hiring Managers Look for in Applicants when Making Hiring Decisions

The Importance of Soft Skills to Hiring Managers

When organizations desire to hire employees for job openings, there are usually a set of criteria that they use to make the hiring decisions. For instance, apart from the technical skills and the aptitude of the applicants, hiring managers also look at how presentable the applicant is in terms of personality, communication skills, and interpersonal skills.

Further, hiring managers also look at linguistic abilities and the ability to work abroad or in unfamiliar geographical regions. Indeed, these soft skills so-called because they pertain to the “softer” aspect of an applicant’s skills are much sought after by organizations, especially those in the IT (Information Technology) and financial services firms.

The reason being that most of the firms in these sectors have a requirement for client interfacing roles and hence, they need employees to have pleasing and impressive personalities.

Moreover, most of the multinational firms also need employees with these skills as they tend to depute them to overseas locations where the ability to hold one’s own in an unfamiliar setting is very important.

Apart from that, due to the multicultural nature of their workforces, they also need employees to have strong intercultural communication skills.

What is Employability and why does it Matter So Much?

Turning to the hard skills or the technical skills as well as the educational qualifications, hiring managers often focus on what is known as “employability” wherein it does not matter where one has studied or how many certifications and courses that one has done, and rather, what matters is how employable the candidate is.

In other words, while you may be holding Engineering or a similar Technical degree, what ultimately matters to the hiring managers is that how technically qualified are you.

For instance, research has shown that nearly 90% of all the Engineering graduates in India are unemployable meaning that though they have degrees and educational qualifications, when it comes to their usefulness for organizations to employ them, they are sorely found lacking.

Indeed, in recent years, Indian corporates have been voicing alarm about what they see as the widening gap between education and employability.

What this means is that while the Government reels out statistics about how many graduates are entering the workforce and the advantage of the Demographic Dividend, the reality is that most of these youth cannot simply be employed gainfully since they have to be extensively trained before they can be deployed which increases the costs to the organizations.

The Economics of Hiring Decisions

Indeed, talking about costs to the organization, most hiring managers typically base their decisions on how much cost can the organization bear vis-a-vis the expected benefit from the applicant to the organization if he or she is hired.

To explain, hiring managers assess the costs and the benefits of hiring the employees in an objective and scientific manner by referring to the revenues that would accrue from the candidate and the costs that need to be incurred on them including salary perks, training costs, and other incidental costs.

This is where employability again comes into the picture as it determines how much savings the organization can realize on the applicant when compared to a similar profile who needs training and Reskilling.

In other words, the more employable you are, the greater are your chances at landing a job. Apart from this, what matters also is how much value you can bring to the table where value is measured as how much extra edge you have over other candidates.

Value Addition as the Differentiator

Indeed, in the current market for applicants, value has become a key aspect of hiring managers’ decisions as it determines the difference between the top 1% of the applicant pool against the next brackets as well as the middle percentile of the heap of applicants.

For instance, if a particular candidate has additional skills in the form of exposure to AI or Artificial Intelligence and Analytics powered technologies, chances are that he or she stands a greater success rate as far as hiring is concerned. In addition, value addition in terms of the soft skills also plays a major role.

To take an example, if a particular applicant knows French or German and has worked abroad or studied abroad, hiring managers for positions that involve travel often prefer them over others since they can “hit the ground running”.

Keep in mind this phrase as more and more organizations in the present times are recruiting candidates who can start immediately and who can be deployed from Day One instead of having to be put through training and other skills development programs.

In times when revenues are being squeezed and margins eroded, the applicants who already have the needed technical and soft skills as well as personality based skills have a greater chance of being hired.

Moreover, the focus of most hiring managers is to ensure that the demands for immediate placement from the functional managers and the middle and senior management are met and hence, they do tend to prefer those who can be put through the paces immediately.

Concluding Thoughts

Lastly, it is also the case that some candidates are good at what are known as being Good Interview Candidates wherein they seem impressive during the interviews but once employed, they fail to deliver the goods.

This is the reason why most hiring managers in recent years have begun to stagger the interview process in such a manner that all facets of the applicant’s abilities are discerned upfront and that there are no misgivings later.

To conclude, hiring is a layered activity and hence, the points discussed so far provide a glimpse into the minds of the hiring managers.

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