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Cultural Nuance and Five Soft Skills Needed When Hiring Managerial Roles

Carlos Acosta | 12.03.2021

When hiring for managerial roles, soft skills can understandably be one of the greatest challenges to define.

When hiring for managerial roles, soft skills can understandably be one of the greatest challenges to define.

To get the best hire, a managerial candidate must have a good balance between having the necessary hard skills (experience, measurable qualifications, etc.) and the soft skills (personality traits, behaviors, and other attributes) needed for the job.

Soft skills are just as valuable as hard skills because they greatly influence how you interact with others—and this is all the more important for managers who oversee and take care of a team. Given the workforce diversity in most organizations, cultural nuance is also important and will also be discussed in this article.

What soft skills do you need to look for in managerial candidates?

1. Empathy

Empathy is possibly one of the most essential soft skills to look for in any candidate, but more crucially in managers. Managers often need to gain consensus around tasks and business objectives and will be required to leverage persuasive communication skills to do so.

For a manager to be seen as a good leader, one must be able to understand the feelings and emotions of co-workers and subordinates in order to act and react with compassion. In addition to gaining consensus and commitment, empathic managers also boost morale and enhance team relationships, which, in return, can help improve the team’s overall performance.

How to spot empathy in candidates: Just as important as what they say, pay special attention to how they say it. Notice how they talk and observe their body language during the interview. An empathic person listens attentively and is fully present when communicating with someone. How they answer situational questions also gives you a clue whether they are empathic or not; for example, how do they deal with difficult co-workers? The empathetic candidate will be mindful of how their response is received, and can help make the difference between barking orders and presenting opportunities for improvement.

2. Communication skills

A good manager must have the skills to effectively communicate with others, both verbally and in written form. Successful managers also make a point to facilitate open communication within their team, as well as throughout the organization, in order to minimize misunderstandings and resolve conflicts more effectively.

How to spot good communication skills in candidates: Observe their resume and/or cover letter: is it professionally done? Are the grammar, punctuation, and syntax—to name a few—on point and written well? As with the first point, observe how they perform during the interview: do they get their point across succinctly? How are you reading their body language? Do they maintain good eye contact or do their eyes reflect an evasive nervous energy? These are but a few things to take note of.

3. Flexibility

Successful managers are flexible, meaning that they deal with change quite well. Flexibility also goes hand in hand with problem-solving and decision-making, two other soft skills that are important for managerial candidates.

In every business (and life in general), change is inevitable. Managers must have the ability to adapt to changes, as well as being able to come up with a plan on how to overcome and make the most of new situations.

How to spot flexibility in candidates: Ask situational questions, such as how they were able to overcome an unexpected problem, whether in their personal life or previous job. During the hiring process, observe how they react to changes in the schedule (if it happens).

4. Candor

While honesty and straightforwardness in the workplace are important, it’s not always good to be so brutally honest. The term “candor” is more preferable—it means nearly the same thing as honesty, but candor involves being forthright and open in a way that mixes in empathy, tact, and sincerity.

Good managers know how to cultivate a culture of candor. They encourage both open communication and respect within the teams they handle, as well as in communicating with other peers.

How to spot candor in candidates: Dedicating part of your interview process to the concept of candor is a good first step. If they can talk knowledgeably and comfortably on the subject, you’re already off to a good start. Additionally, they can demonstrate this principle when observing their body language and their speech. See if their body language communicates a sincere openness as in: eyes focused on you, the torso facing towards you, etc. Red flags are giving vague answers, repeating questions before answering them (a delaying tactic), and failing to provide specific details—just to name a few.

5. Time Management Skills

Time is money, especially in a business setting. Good managers respect process and know how to manage their time well. This involves prioritizing, delegating, and goal-setting.

Additionally, managers with good time management skills make it easier for their team to achieve work-life balance, which can boost their performance as well as improve retention.

How to spot time management skills in candidates: First thing you can take note of: Were they early or on time during the interview? How prepared were they for the interview? Did they come prepared with notes and questions to support their role in the interview? How prompt were they in responding during the hiring process? Ask situational questions as well: How do they balance work and personal commitments?

Cultural Nuances to Consider

As economies around the world become more and more integrated, it would be a mistake not to consider the role of cultural nuance in the hiring process. That being said, hiring managers would do well to incorporate cultural nuance in their use of the aforementioned five soft skills. While these concepts can be applied almost anywhere, it’s important to realize that you can apply them more effectively when you do so with cultural nuance.

The QualiFind Group’s 22 plus year legacy of successfully recruiting for both domestic and multinational organizations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Latin America have given us the understanding that you simply cannot engage and converse with all candidates from all cultures in the same way.

It’s worth making the effort because the benefits of a culturally diverse workforce cannot be denied. When hiring managers leverage well developed soft skills along with an understanding of cultural implications for the country or region they are working in they are on the right track for making a transformational hire.

Here are some thoughts on cultural nuance from some of our team members outside of the United States:


Fabiana Zanini of our Sao Paulo office shared these sentiments: “With Brazil being home to 212 million people, it’s important to understand that the Brazilian economy is more diverse than many people realize. You can’t simply apply the norms from other countries and expect the same result. There are common deviations to be aware of which include the importance of interpersonal relationships in establishing trust and an understanding of flexibility around scheduling related issues. Brazil represents Latin America’s largest GDP at just under 2 trillion US dollars so an understanding of the broader nuances of Latin culture can be invaluable in supporting a strong managerial hire.”


Colin Campbell from our office in Toronto states that, “Because of the cultural melting pot that Canada is, your team will likely be comprised of people from multiple cultures. When working within a team mosaic that could include members from India, China, Korea, Ireland and Brazil, it is critical to establish a culture of empathy that embraces and values differences in order to create a positive team working ethos. A successful manager needs to be able to navigate cultural differences in order to turn them into a great asset.”


Guadalajara-based Xochilt Acosta says that she often experiences hiring managers from outside of Mexico approaching the hiring process in Mexico in the same way they do in their home countries. She emphasizes that the culture of Mexico is complex from both a business and cultural perspective. Xochilt says that first-time hiring managers for Mexico should develop at least a basic understanding of Mexican culture before delving into the hiring process. Like many other Latin American countries, Mexico places a high degree of importance on both actual relationships and relationship through association. Testing for confrontation avoidance is also critical to ensuring you aren’t hiring a manager that will be telling you what you want to hear.

Finding the Right People for your Business

It’s no secret that the talent within your managerial ranks can either make or break your organization in ways that not only impact transformational change and your bottom line, but also influence your employer brand. The QualiFind Group can be the resource you need to find the right technical or functional managers for your company. We offer professional and technical recruitment and headhunting services backed by the industry’s best guarantee.

Head to https://www.qualifindgroup.com/en/contact/ to get started!