What to look for in a candidate

Written by: Beth Rowley
Published on: 8 Jun 2021

When you have a position open in your organisation you may want to fill it quickly but recruiting the wrong person could be costly. It is important to assess each candidate carefully and not only look at the hard skills they may have but also soft skills. Hard skills are job specific knowledge mostly learnt through education whereas softs skills are how someone works. For example, mindset, work ethic, communication skills etc.

Sometimes recruiters can focus on the skills and qualifications which candidates have listed on their CV, but the social attributes and characteristics of a new hire are just as important. Many technical skills can be taught, but it is difficult to change someone’s mindset.

The interview is the perfect time to assess your potential new employee’s soft skills. To help you with the process, we have put together a list of key attributes to look for when finding the right fit for your firm.


Communication is an essential skill for all job seekers. The interview will be the best opportunity for you to evaluate how well the candidate communicates. Try asking some open-ended questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why do you think you are the best candidate for the job’. Whilst they are responding make sure to take note of important communication qualities such as eye contact and body language. Also, asking a candidate how they handled a problem can be a good indicator of their communication skills. If they did nothing to resolve the issue, then it could be said the candidate does not value good communication.


How a new hire will fit into the existing team is a huge consideration for recruiters. Even if the employee will mostly be working independently it is still important to make sure they can work well within a team. Skills to look for could include time management, empathy, taking responsibility but also having a positive attitude is ideal for working within a team. If one person has a negative outlook, then it can bring down the whole group.


The last 15 months have shown how flexibility is a valuable attribute to have in an employee. The ability to adapt to different situations and handle change is a key factor any employer should be looking for. To establish how flexible your candidate is, ask them how they have dealt with the recent changes to the working world. You want to be able to depend on them and know that their work standard won’t slip if an unforeseen circumstance arises.


To be able to think creatively is a highly valued skill for a job seeker. Your organisation will be looking for someone who is versatile and will apply their skills to any kind of situation. A creative thinker can also be a problem solver, someone who confidently thinks of solutions for new and unexpected issues. To identify whether the candidate is creative ask about a time where they had to come up with a quick fix to solve a problem at work and how that impacted the project.


An organised candidate is a desirable candidate. Organisational skills are imperative to have for any type of job. Time management and the ability to prioritise projects are key traits to pick up on. If your new hire can’t adhere to deadlines, then this could have huge repercussions for your firm. Ask the interviewee questions such as ‘before you begin a project, what steps do you take to get organised’ and ‘how do you prioritise tasks in an average workday’. This will give you a good idea of how organised your potential new employee is. 

Finding the right fit for your firm can be a hard task. But if you carefully assess each candidates’ personal attributes and technical skills, you are more likely to be successful in your recruitment search.

We’re here to help you reach your ideal candidates and get them across the line. Speak to one of our account managers for expert advice and successful recruitment. Call 020 8049 4000 or email sales@lawsociety.org.uk.