Quick Chat: Communication Skills in the Workplace

We had a quick chat with ProgressSoft’s Human Capital Manager, Khaleel Asal, on the most important soft skill the Human Capital Department at ProgressSoft seeks when approaching prospective employees. Here is the full conversation.

Q: What is the most important soft skill you look for in prospective employees?

Khaleel: ‘Communication’ is a keyword that is deemed one of the most essential aspectsof our personal and professional lives. From my personal experience, it is also the most important soft skill that determines whether a qualified employee is hired, or not.

Many prospective employees that are highly qualified and have all the required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) for a specific job position, lose the opportunity to be hired due to inadequate communication skills because from the Human Capital perspective, lack of good communication skills can not only hinder the individual’s success in performing their duties efficiently, but also negatively affect the working environment.

Q: So how do you approach a prospective employee that has all the technical KSA needed for the position, but lacks good communication skills?

Khaleel: Many circumstances push companies to disregard weak communication skills, such as an urgent need of resources, or a lack of skilled resources in the market at the time.

At ProgressSoft however, we believe that disregarding weak communication skills will be more harmful to our workplace environment than beneficial in covering certain resource gaps – so we continue to seek the most suitable candidate with minimal compromise of all the skills we seek to maintain quality work and atmosphere.

Q: Is there an exception to this approach?

Khaleel: The job position which a prospective employee is applying for can help determine whether communication will be key to success. For example, if the job position requires continuous interaction with stakeholders, whether internally or externally, then inadequate communication skills will in no way be compromised.

However, in other job positions that require limited interaction with stakeholders, we may make an exception only if the candidate is outstanding.

Q: Wouldn’t training be helpful in this scenario?

Khaleel: Training can reform this problem for a limited segment of people such as fresh graduates who have not yet had the work experience or those who have minor weaknesses in this skill. In other cases, however, we have seen that lack of good communication skills cannot be overcome from our side, which can be troublesome for the prospective employee themselves and other team members too.

However, if a prospective employee acknowledges their communication problem, it is an indicator that improvement can be sought and eventually achieved.

Q: How can you tell if a prospective employee has good communication skills?

Khaleel: During the interviewing phase, we start with behavioral and situational questions, general conversation during the interview, reference checks as well as any type of tests that can assess this skill. We pay special attention to body language, reactive responses and proactive approaches to teamwork. This is usually sufficient to identify whether a candidate is suitable or not.

Q: What is your advice for candidates applying for a new job at ProgressSoft or elsewhere?

Khaleel: Human Capital departments realize that communication is the trigger for most conflicts at the workplace, and that only healthy communication among team members leads to great achievements.

Accordingly, my advice for any candidate applying for a new job is to ensure having effective communications skills required for the position and work on improving them whenever needed, whether through online courses, daily practice, or books and articles. It is the most important soft skill to focus on, and its lack thereof hinders ambition and success.

Q: Has the focus on communication skills as a selection criterion been helpful to ProgressSoft?

Khaleel: It was very helpful in building our homogeneous teams in the company, and because our agile development methodologies and dynamics of how our teams work together require massive collaboration efforts between our colleagues, it becomes easier to identify new members with inadequate communication skills and take immediate corrective actions accordingly.

Our selection criteria and focus on communication skills have been helping us maintain the standards we seek in terms of corporate culture and guidelines which are based on respect, transparency and cooperation.

So, I would say that it has not only been helpful, but vital for ProgressSoft’s success internally and externally.

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