When it comes to hiring and assessing candidates, most recruiters put an emphasis on hard skills such as technical abilities and skills necessary to deliver desired results for the given job. However, it is essential for hiring managers to also focus on a candidate’s soft skills, which often have a substantial impact on employee success and retention.

According to LinkedIn’s annual Global Talent Trends Report, 80 percent of recruiters surveyed stated that soft skills are vital when it comes to hiring. Additionally, 45 percent of respondents reported the candidates who were ultimately a poor fit was due to soft skills compared to only 11 percent attributing it to hard skills.

Soft skills are characteristics such as critical thinking, work ethic, communication, teamwork, problem solving, and conflict resolution that can have a direct impact on the day-to-day culture and productivity of your company. Identifying these skills during the interview process can be challenging because candidates often bring their “A” game to portray a perfect image to their prospective employers. However, differentiating between candidates who may have the technical know-how and those who are well-rounded with the ideal characteristics and task-completing competency for the workplace is essential to finding the right candidate for the position. As an employer, you want someone who is an innovative, proactive thinker. Someone who is up for the challenge of going above and beyond in efforts to become a team player and exceed your expectations. Why not aim for excellence by recruiting someone with these imperative soft skills?

As a hiring manager, the most profound soft skill that should be identified early in the interviewing process is the applicant’s ability to think critically. Critical thinkers are skilled at analyzing data, seeing the bigger picture in terms of goals and outcomes, and can seek out alternative solutions. During an interview, ask questions that provoke the prospective candidate’s critical thinking skills. Leave questions open ended and geared around their experience with problem solving, how they reached a solution for a particularly challenging project, or how they moved a project forward with insufficient information. A strategy that may be beneficial would be to come up with a hypothetical scenario to assess the candidate response.

Other essential soft skills to consider when hiring your next employee include:

Communication Skills

Seek out candidates who are able to effectively communicate, particularly with other employees and clients. Knowing when to include others in on projects or tasks, communicate project updates or proactively raising the flag when an unforeseen issue is about to occur are the type of communications skills a communicative employee will bring to the table.

Work Ethic

While this soft skill may be difficult to assess in the initial interview, work ethic and drive is an imperative soft skill needed in every employee no matter their position within the company. Look for red flags during the first few weeks of your new hire’s employment – are they taking initiative and asking questions, or do they seem to sit back and allow for others to pick up their slack? Is the new member of your team connecting with the rest of your staff? Are they offering their services to assist their colleagues on current projects? Addressing poor work ethic early on with the employee may help to correct the situation while also providing clarity around expectations. While some people may never rach your expectations as an employer, others may surprise you with their coachable nature.

Problem Solving

The ability to problem solve and produce quick, satisfactory decisions when necessary is a crucial skill in a reliable workforce. Serving hand in hand with work ethic and drive, a candidate with strong problem-solving abilities is capable of effectively assessing and analyzing a situation before taking the appropriate action. An employee with this skillset helps to keep all projects and systems moving and does not need constant direction to move forward. Additionally, individuals with strong decision-making and problem-solving skills often make effective managers.