Top Soft Skills to Look for in Behavioral Health Candidates

Many employers make the mistake of focusing solely on technical skills when hiring behavioral health candidates. While these are certainly important, they’re not everything. Soft skills, such as problem solving, communication, teamwork and motivation are just as important. In fact, a 2014 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 77 percent of employers believe soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Learn which behavioral health skills to seek out in candidates vying for a position at your company.



Patients, families and other medical professionals rely on behavioral health workers to do their jobs in a timely manner. You need a candidate who shows up to the office on time each day, completes their work in a timely manner, and does what they say they will do. If even one person in this line of work doesn’t deliver, it can cause a ripple effect that ultimately impacts the level of care realized by the patient. Find reliable candidates by being selective with where you advertise your open positions, contacting past references and carefully reviewing each person’s work history.

Team Player.

Behavioral health professionals are part of a larger care team, so they must be able to work well with others. It’s imperative that candidates are willing and able to collaborate with other members of the team internally — in addition to external entities, such as community agencies and public health departments. There are a number of ways to find out if a person is a team player during the interview process, such as asking if they prefer to work with others or independently, taking note of how often the person uses “we” or “us” to answer a question and inquiring on what it means to be a good team player.


Behavioral health professionals have very important jobs, so you must able to trust a candidate to adhere to the highest standards of integrity. It takes just one person behaving in an unethical manner to tarnish the name of your entire organization, so you need someone with a strong moral compass. Gauge the person’s level of integrity during the interview by posing a series of behavioral questions, such as “Detail a time at work when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?” and “Describe a time when you spoke up against popular opinion.”


A person in this line of work cannot come into the office every day and check out. For a behavioral health professional to be effective, they must be actively engaged in every step of patient care. This includes communications with colleagues, families, insurers, community organizations and any other stakeholders. You need to hire someone who truly cares about the patients and really wants to help them. During the interview, ask each candidate why they decided to work in the behavioral health field and what their favorite part of the job is. Use their response to determine whether they’re truly passionate about the work or just phoning it in.

Knowing which soft skills to look for in a behavioral health candidate can make all the difference. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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