Third of management candidates need to improve leadership skills

Every third candidate applying for a management level position is lacking leadership skills, according to HR directors in the UAE

  • Core competency shortage: 33% of management candidates lacking leadership skills, 55% of staff level candidates lacking functional, job-related skills
  • Interview performance and professional experience most important factors for HR directors when making hiring decisions

Dubai, 15 February 2017 – Every third candidate applying for a management level position is lacking leadership skills, according to HR directors in the UAE. New research by Robert Half UAE of 75 HR directors also revealed that a quarter (25%) of management candidates fall short on functional, job-related skills, with 16% lacking communication skills and 16% lacking strategic planning expertise, and 9% lacking project management expertise.

Candidates applying for staff level roles are equally lacking one of their core competencies, with nearly half (55%) of candidates not holding the desired functional, job-related skills. Other areas staff level candidates need to improve in are communication skills (20%) and leadership skills (20%). Just 4% of HR directors think those at staff level should worry about improving their project management skills.

Table one: Areas HR directors would like to see candidates improve the most


Management level positions

Staff level positions




Functional, job-related skills






Strategic planning



Project management



Source: Robert Half UAE

Nearly half (48%) of HR directors said that, when evaluating management level candidates, technical skills carry a greater weight than soft, nontechnical skills, with 44% feel they need to consider the candidates technical and soft-skills equally. For staff level candidates, a greater weight is placed on non-technical skills when evaluating staff level candidate with nearly six in 10 (59%) HR directors placing greater weight on technical skills.

HR directors rank their most important factors impacting their hiring decisions as:

  1. CV and professional experience
  2. Interview performance
  3. Candidate testing
  4. Reference checks
  5. Recommendations from their network

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director at Robert Half UAE, commented: “When adding new staff, employers have different hiring criteria, depending on the level and seniority of the role. As you’d expect, functional, job-related skills are most important for staff level roles, whereas soft skills such as leadership and strategic planning become more important at the management level. For professionals looking to advance their careers, preparing a professional development plan that incorporates soft-skills is essential.”

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UAE and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 75 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UAE, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy; a member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2016). Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at