Man working in warehouse

If you work in HR or operations, you know how difficult it can be to hire employees in today’s competitive job market. When hiring for positions that require specific education, experience and hard skills, it's easier to identify unqualified or underqualified candidates. But entry-level employees may not have much work experience, so what factors do you consider?

Soft skills, those less tangible attributes and personality traits, should be key considerations when hiring entry-level employees. If a candidate has the following skills, they have a good foundation on which to grow and develop the hard skills needed to thrive in a position.

It seems obvious, but having an employee who arrives at work on time, and has a good attendance record and work ethic, is vitally important. An inexperienced but dependable, hard-working individual can develop new skills while on the job, but one who can’t be counted on will not make a good long-term employee.

Communication is a prime soft skill for any entry-level employee, whether they’re answering phones or working in production in a warehouse. Being able to listen and effectively convey information to coworkers, supervisors, customers or others, is a core competency, and its importance can't be overemphasized.

We all face challenges in the workplace, and an individual's ability to recognize issues and proactively work on solutions is essential in any role. Asking a candidate in an interview about a time they solved a problem, or giving them a hypothetical on-the-job issue and asking for solutions, is a good way to gauge the person's problem-solving aptitude.

Every workplace requires a certain amount of flexibility – for instance, perhaps an employee’s primary work is in the warehouse, but he or she will sometimes interact with customers. You want an employee who won't be frustrated by changes at work, but will ably adapt to whatever changes or challenges he or she faces.