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What Skills, Qualities and Attitudes Employers are looking for in the workplace

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Usually the first question you will have to answer at interview will be something along the lines of: “What skills, qualities and attitudes/values do you have that make you suitable for this job?” It is therefore important to understand exactly what the employer is asking when they begin the interview with this.

What is a skill?

A skill is something that you can do. You can do it because you have practised it over and over again. For example, I can read, I can tell the time, I can play sport, I can work to deadlines, I can write reports. If you are not sure if the activity is a skill or not, start the sentence with “I can…” and if you add your activity at the end and the sentence makes sense, then it is a skill.

What is a quality?

A quality is something that you tend to be born with and it is part of your character. When discussing your qualities, you will start a sentence with “I am…” For example, I am patient, I am kind, I am generous, I am honest, I am reliable. It is possible to work on your qualities, however this tends to be an ongoing process of self-improvement from within.

What is an attitude/a value?

An attitude is something that you believe in. Sometimes in interview, you may be asked about your values, which is much the same as attitudes. When discussing your attitudes you will begin sentences with “I believe…” For example, I believe in honesty, I believe in being respectful, I believe in taking responsibility for your own actions, I believe in working together as a team. Employers like to see that their employees have a positive attitude to their work.

There are many skills, qualities and attitudes/values that employers find extremely important in the workplace. Some of them include:


Literacy Skills: This is the ability to communicate to others in the workplace, or customers, through talking and listening and/or reading and writing. Employees will be expected to communicate well with others that they work with. This can include the boss, other work colleagues, customers so it is important that the employee can listen, can read information and communicate to others verbally and through writing. Employers believe that employees should have a good standard of literacy.

ICT Skills: It will be quite unusual to go to a place of work and not expect to have to exercise your ICT skills. This means that employers are expecting their employees to have the ability to use technologies such as email, desktop publishing like word processing and social media to distribute information. There may also be times when employees will need to be able to disseminate the information from a database and/or spreadsheet and communicate the information effectively.

Numeracy Skills: This is the ability to understand numbers, be it when handling cash, dealing with numbers and figures when predicting trends or assessing how profits are doing. For some jobs, it is also the skill of being able to decode diagrams and graphs for an end of year report for the business.

Problem Solving Skills: This is the ability to work through a problem and figure out, in a systematic and connected way, what possible solutions could be. With the workplace becoming more and more busy, employers value employees who are able to come to them with possible solutions to problems, not just to report that there is a problem.

Working with others: This is the ability to work in a team with others and work towards a shared vision or target. Being tolerant and able to work with others creates a good working environment which ultimately results in positive outcomes for the employee, the employer and for the business.


Punctuality: This is the ability to meet deadlines as set out and agreed. The employee should turn up to work on time (if not a little bit early most days) and complete tasks within a given time frame and this will lead to more profit for the business.

Responsibility: This is the ability to take ownership of actions and therefore the work that you do. This means that an employee is not relying on other people to do the job that they have been assigned to do and they see the task through to the end. Sometimes, things do not go as expected or as planned and there can sometimes be mistakes. Employers value those employees who hold their hands up and take responsibility for the job that they did, both good and bad.

Honesty: This is the ability to be truthful and transparent in your work. If an employee is honest then there is trust in the workplace, between the employee and colleagues and also between the employee and the employer. This will lead to good productivity in the workplace and opportunities for the employer to give more responsibilities to employees.

Motivation: This is the ability to work with enthusiasm and dedication in the workplace and not let things get in the way of getting a task done. Employers believe that if their employees are motivated then they will attract consumers, bring in more profit for the business and be efficient in their work.


Being flexible: This is the understanding that there will be times when deadlines, resources and targets may need to be changed. It is important for employees to show their employer that they are not rigid in meeting a target but can adapt to changes without any fuss as they endeavour to meet the deadline.

Commitment: This is the attitude that once an employee agrees to completing a task or being a member of a workplace that they agree to work within that workplace or on that task with the dedication it takes to see it through to the end. Commitment means also that you have great stickability with tasks, even if they are difficult and/or time consuming. Employees will be expected to act in the best interests of the business by showing commitment and loyalty at all times.

Loyalty: Employers like to feel assured that they can rely on their employees. They get this sense when they feel that their employees will defend the business and act in the interests of the business at all times.

Other Skills, Qualities and Attitudes that are important to employers are:


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