Soft Skills to Look for in Behavioral Health Professionals

Hiring a new behavioral health professional isn’t easy. After sorting through resumes to find candidates with all the right hard skills, you’re tasked with interviewing candidates to gauge their soft skills. 

In many ways, soft skills can be more important than hard skills, because they’re largely innate. Knowledge and abilities needed to do the job can be learned, but it’s very difficult to change someone’s personality traits.

Here are a few non-negotiable soft skills for your next behavioral health hire.  


Patients suffering from behavioral health disorders need professionals who display kindness and empathy. These people are seeking help for their issues and should feel encouraged to work toward self-improvement. If they’re under the care of a professional who is cold and unfriendly, they likely will not feel comfortable opening up or much hope for the future. 

Gauge a candidate’s compassion in an interview by asking questions like “How do you provide comfort to patients in distress?” or “Tell me why you enjoy helping others.” 


No two days are the same in a behavioral health position. Every patient is different, and their needs can vary from one day to the next. Consequently, you need a professional who can quickly adapt to changing  and sometimes trying  situations. These people can think on their feet and quickly adjust to new colleagues. 

Learn about a candidate’s level of flexibility by asking questions like “How do you succeed in situations you have no control over?” and “Tell me about a time you had to adjust to changes from top leadership.” 

Team Player 

Patient care is typically a team effort. Therefore, you need a professional who works well with others. This is essential because you can’t have an ego or a stubborn attitude interfere with what’s best for a patient. Even when colleagues don’t see eye-to-eye  and they often don’t  they need to be able to come together for the common good. 

Assess a candidate’s ability to function as part of a team by asking questions like, “Describe a time you had to work as part of a team to complete a challenging task” or “Share a time you disagreed with a colleague and how you resolved the situation.” 


Since patients are typically cared for by more than one professional, excellent communication skills are a must. Behavioral health professionals need to be able to relate to both other medical professionals and patients and their families.  

Interview questions to assess a candidate’s communication skills might include “How would you simplify a complex medical issue to explain it to a patient or their loved one?” or “What would you do if there was a breakdown in communication on your medical team?” 


Some patients are a joy to treat, while others are a bit more challenging. It’s essential for behavioral health professionals to have an abundance of patience because people need a professional who is understanding and can remain calm under pressure. This is also an important quality for effectively dealing with patients’ families and other healthcare professionals. 

A few questions to gauge candidates’ level of patience include “Tell me about a time your patience was tested and how you handled it” or “What types of behaviors really get under your skin and how do you keep your cool when they occur?” 

The importance of hiring the right behavioral health professional for your team cannot be emphasized enough, but doing it is often easier said than done. 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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