6 Qualities to Look for in a New Hire

6 Qualities to Look for in a New Hire by @melisewilliams

6 Qualities to Look for in a New Hire

by Elise Williams | Featured Contributor 

Consider this job interview scenario: Job Candidate #1 walks into a job interview. Her resume is perfectly crafted, she meets every single requirement, she says all the right things during the interview. Then you ask her why she left her previous job; she bad-mouths her previous employer. You ask her if she has any questions for you; she replies with “Nope!”

Now job Candidate #2 walks into a job interview. She meets about 75% of the job’s requirements, she has less job experience than Job Candidate #1, and she says “um” a few too many times. But when you ask her if she has any questions for you, she fires off several questions, including, “Why do you love working here?” and “What expectations do you have for the person who fills this position?”

Which candidate would you choose? I would personally always, always, always go with Job Candidate #2. You can be the most qualified, perfect person on paper, but I would much rather have someone on my team who has the following qualities (or as I like to call them, “soft skills”).

1. A Good Attitude

If you have a bad attitude, I don’t care how “talented” you might be—I don’t want to work with you. Charlie Sheen has a Golden Globe award, but does anyone want to work with him? No.

A good attitude is one of the most important soft skill to look for in a candidate, because it encompasses all of the other following qualities employees should have. If an employee has a good attitude, they’ll be willing and eager to learn new things, help out their team members, and go the extra mile to get things done.

You won’t have to ask a particular question to know if your potential candidate has a good or bad attitude; just pay attention to whether or not they show up late, how much eye contact they make, and how positively they answer questions.

2. An Eagerness to Learn

I think the best professional advice I’ve ever received is that if you and your employees are not constantly changing, evolving, and learning new things, your business is dying. A good employee is always looking for new methods of accomplishing things and new skills to acquire to better themselves and the business as a whole.

Try asking job candidates about a new skill they’ve acquired, a conference they recently attended, a podcast they’ve listened to, or a webinar they’ve watched.

3. A Good Work Ethic

Talent means nothing if your employees don’t get their work done on time. I can’t express just how valuable a dependable employee is; to give someone a task and know it will get done on time—and be correct—is everything.

This is something you can gather about a candidate from a cover letter, resume, or LinkedIn profile; what special projects have they worked on? What was their GPA in college (if your applicant is a recent graduate)? Do they volunteer or are they involved in any organizations?

4. Team Player

A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Good employees help other team members when they’re struggling, encourage and boost team morale, and collaborate and contribute efficiently on projects. Why? The team represents the company as a whole; if your employee isn’t willing to work hard for his team, why would he or she go above and beyond to help the company?

Try asking job candidates about a team project they worked on at their last job or give them a scenario.

5. Problem-Solving Skills

Which person would you rather work with: Someone who complains, or someone who comes to you and says “A problem occurred; these are the steps I think we should take to fix it”? Of course, you should always notify your boss if a big enough issue arises, but you will gain more trust and responsibility if you bring solutions to the table along with the problem at-hand.

Try asking job candidates about a problem they solved at their previous job or give them a scenario.

6. Communication Skills

Good communication skills are the foundation for all of the other good qualities an employee should possess. If a problem arises, will your employee tell you? If they’re going on vacation or they’re sick and didn’t manage to get all of their work done, will they ask another employee to cover it? If they need help, will they ask? You can’t do anything about a problem you don’t know exists; a good employee will keep you, and everyone else involved, in the loop at all times.

Try giving potential candidates a scenario like this one: “Your deadline is approaching and you know you won’t be able to get your work completed on time. What do you do?” The only right answer is “I would email my boss to let him or her know what’s going on and when to expect my work to be done so they can adjust accordingly.” The answer “I would pull an all-nighter” is idealistic, unrealistic, and shows a candidate with an unreliable work ethic and an inability to communicate effectively.

While this may sound like a rigorous interviewing process, it’s absolutely essential to make sure you are selecting the right candidate for your company. If you don’t find out what qualities your job candidate possesses, you’ll find out later on the hard way.

Featured image via WOCInTechChat

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