5 Skills to Look for When Hiring Senior Candidates in the UAE

For years, employers in the Middle East have reported a sizable gap between the talent they need to keep their companies growing, and the talent they can actually find. This gap between the demand and supply of talent is called a skills gap. The skills gap is a universal problem that impacts nearly every industry, job and employer.


According to the Bayt.com 2016 Middle East Skills Gap Survey, May 2016, employers in the UAE and across the Middle East region are experiencing difficulty filling their job vacancies, especially for senior positions. The survey shows that employers struggle to find candidates with the right skill sets, with ‘soft’ skills being regarded as most lacking, and ‘technical’ skills often seen as posing the least challenge.


Assessing a candidate’s soft skills is a fundamental step in the hiring process, especially when it comes to senior-level hires. While technical skills are important to complete tasks properly, soft skills are the ones that make sure the company can sustain its ability to grow and innovate.


Here, the experts at Bayt.com, the Middle East’s leading job site, provide a list of the top 5 soft skills to look for when hiring senior-level candidates:

1. Social competencies and teamwork (88%)

Evidence has shown that teamwork is a necessary part of the daily agenda in any company. A team that works well together is invaluable and has the ability to function as a ‘think tank.’ This goes doubly so for managers, as team orientation is a key qualification for outstanding managers. Teamwork is more than efficiently managing and structuring a team of employees; it’s about creating a team spirit and a culture of collaboration.


Teamwork was rated as the highest sought-after skill in senior candidates, according to the Bayt.com 2016 Middle East Skills Gap Survey. Not only does this indicate that a senior candidate has to prove his ability to work well with peers and managers, but it also means that they should be able to manage a team and delegate tasks effectively, while building and maintaining collaborative relationships and lending a helping hand when needed.


2. Flexibility, mobility and efficiency (87%)

Through globalization and the need to expand and adjust to changing conditions, it has become commonplace today that managers are requested to travel or even temporarily relocate abroad, making mobility a basic requirement for management positions. 


Flexibility is another highly sought-after skill in senior candidates. Simply put, an employee who is flexible and gets things done will run a team that gets things done too. Flexibility can be difficult to assess, though, without some digging and questioning. We recommend that you start by researching the candidate - candidates with interests, affiliations and extracurricular activities are your best bet. You can log onto Bayt.com Specialties and review the activity of candidates and their interactions with other professionals in their community. During the job interview, ask them questions that will reveal a little about their attitude towards work.


3. Communication, presentation and public speaking (85%)

It is important that a senior-level employee has the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. In fact, senior professionals have to explain, present and debate very frequently in the workplace. You can evaluate this skill by observing the candidate during the job interview. Are they clear and candid in answering your questions? Do they engage in conversation with you? Do they have the ability to convey their thoughts effectively? What kind of body language do they use to demonstrate their confidence and competence? These are all indicators of good communication skills. As a senior professional, rhetorical skills are essential - if they can’t convince you, they won’t be able to convince other people they will be dealing with, including clients, managers and their own team.  


4. The ability to handle pressure (84%)

Employees in senior positions must be able to perform a variety of tasks and juggle projects, all in a fast-paced, challenging and constantly changing work environment. Many times, deadlines come suddenly and timelines are short; other times, problems may arise which seem almost impossible to solve. A candidate who can work effectively and efficiently under pressure is essential to the success of a company. During the job interview do a quick role-play to evaluate how they make decisions when it comes to operating under a set of challenges, and a very tight deadline. Another good way to assess candidates’ ability to handle pressure is by asking them questions that measure their behavioral competencies under a set of stressful scenarios, and then see how they handle each scenario.


5. The ability to inspire, lead and motivate others (84%)

Leadership is not so much about directing others as it is about empowering them. Assess the candidate’s ability to lead. Great leaders understand how to maintain employee morale, and most importantly, how to professionally disagree with a manager or colleague. Another important trait is vision. Ask the candidate: Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years? How do you envision achieving that? In what direction do you think the business needs to go? A candidate with strong vision will have much better odds at ensuring your company’s growth than one without.


Contributed by Bayt.com, the #1 job site in the Middle East with more than 40,000 employers and over 24,750,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels.



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