What Are Qualitative Skills?

Qualitative abilities are those that can be seen but not measured. This is in stark contrast to quantitative abilities, which can be objectively assessed. Many jobs, from working as a researcher in a scientific facility to conducting international diplomacy, require qualitative skills. Attending formal education and training, taking workshops, and reading texts written for people in their industry are all tools that people can use to develop them.

Researching is an example of a qualitative skill that is useful for people like legal assistants and librarians. Although observers can make notes on whether someone is a good or bad researcher, it is impossible to measure someone’s research ability. People with this skill can find a wide range of relevant information from a variety of reliable sources, and they may be able to do so in a short amount of time. They are well-versed in available resources and can compile a comprehensive list of potential sources for a supervisor or client.

A wide range of job positions require the ability to perform tasks that cannot be measured. Qualitative skills can be difficult to learn in some cases, and they’re even harder to test for because simple, quantifiable measures can’t be used to evaluate candidates. A surgeon, for example, can demonstrate an understanding of anatomy and physiology, but actual operating room surgical technique is a qualitative skill. It is a qualitative trait that can be measured indirectly through patient outcomes in a long-term study, but it is not a quantitative trait.

Qualitative skills may come up in employee evaluations as a topic of discussion. Workplaces typically want their employees to develop and hone such skills, and supervisors must find fair ways to evaluate employees. This may be important for improvement plans as well, as concrete definitions and discussions can aid in goal setting and measurement. As an example, a qualitative skill like getting along with coworkers could be broken down into a series of questions about how frequently the employee encounters conflict and how coworkers perceive that person in anonymous surveys.

A list of expected skills and qualifications, some of which may be qualitative in nature, is usually included in job postings. Applicants may need letters of recommendation as well as a strong interview performance to demonstrate that they are familiar with the subject matter and feel comfortable in the workplace. Supervisors are responsible for providing training and feedback to trainees in entry-level positions who may lack qualitative skills. This will help them develop these skills and apply them to challenges in the workplace.