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What Makes a Good Employee? 10 Qualities to Look For in Job Candidates

Updated: Jun 24

Did you know that employee turnover can cost a company up to twice the value of that employee’s annual salary?

Having a revolving door of workers is expensive and inconvenient for businesses. This is why it’s so important to make sure you hire the right person the first time.

Among employers, the traits of a good employee are almost universal. 

Of course, it can be hard to evaluate a candidate’s experience based on just a job interview. So how can you know what makes a good employee? Let’s take a closer look at 10 attributes to look for.

1. Potential for Growth With the Company

When you need someone to work on a certain set of tasks right away, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision. In reality, when you are making a hire, you should be looking for someone who can meet both your company’s current and future needs.

We all know the days of working at the same firm and retiring after forty years are gone. In fact, most workers will hold 10 jobs before the age of forty. So how can you identify someone who will stay with the company?

The key is to find someone adaptable. A person willing to take on new tasks and challenges will be able to find multiple roles within your company. This will give them the experience of having different types of jobs without going to a different firm.

Look for someone who advanced at their last job. Advanced degrees can also be an indication that a particular worker has an interest in learning new things.

2. Producing Results

Many interviewers make the mistake of asking potential candidates task-based questions. Here is an example: “what did you do at your last job?” The problem with this approach is that most people can figure out how to perform a specific task they are told to do. What is harder to find is someone who can take initiative and produce results.

Ask specific questions that require specific answers. Here are some examples: 

  1. How much income did you generate? 

  2. What processes did you develop at your last job? 

  3. How many clients did you bring?

3. Team Player

While it is important to hire someone who can make things happen, it can be dangerous to bring someone on who cares too much about their own accolades. Instead, it’s important to look for candidates who are able to be part of a team, and who don’t need to have the spotlight.

There are a couple of ways to gauge a person’s ability to work with a team. For instance, bringing them in for a panel interview will give you an idea of how they interact with your current employees. You can also ask references to talk specifically about their experience on teams.

4. Written and Verbal Communication

No matter what your company does, the ability to articulate ideas in an understandable way is essential. This is why you should look for job candidates with strong written and verbal communication skills.

There are several ways to evaluate a candidate’s abilities. Asking for a writing sample is a common option. Some employers may request for a candidate to give a presentation to demonstrate their speaking abilities.

5. Enthusiasm for the Work

Even the best jobs have bad days. What keeps people going at their jobs is a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the work.

Look for a candidate who demonstrates an interest in what your company does. You can evaluate this by looking at their previous jobs, their involvement in professional organizations, or their educational journey.

6. Self-Starter

There are few things more frustrating for an employer than having to constantly guide an employee to do simple tasks. Instead, you want someone who will not only do what they are tasked with doing but who will be able to identify the need for new projects.

A good way to evaluate this ability is to describe the job to the candidate and ask them how they would approach it. Someone who is a self-starter will have ideas for new things to bring to the table.

7. Constant Improvement

With the rapid development of new technology, it is important to hire people who are able to adapt quickly and improve their skills.

A good way to determine a candidate’s aptitude for improvement is to look at their education history. Have they sought higher education or certifications? Do they attend conferences in their industry?

8. Attentive Listener

In an interview, hiring managers usually focus on getting a candidate to talk about themselves. But it is also important to gauge how well a candidate is able to listen to and digest information.

A good way to do this is to tell them information about your company, and then ask them specific questions. For instance, you can tell them about a challenge you had recently, and ask them how they would have responded. Make sure that the story you tell is long enough that it requires them to pay attention to what you are saying.

9. Tech-Savvy

Depending on what your company does, there are certain technologies that you want your employees to be fluent in. To test this, many employers conduct technical interviews, where they require candidates to complete certain tasks to show their ability.

10. Trust Your Gut

We all know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But, while it is important not to jump to conclusions about people, it’s also important to keep in mind that first impressions matter.

How an individual chooses to dress and conduct themselves at a job interview says a lot about their overall philosophy toward work. If the candidate is behaving in a way that seems to clash with your company’s culture, that is unlikely to change.

Learn What Makes a Good Employee

These traits are part of what makes a good employee, but they’re not the whole story. That’s why, if you want to hire the best people, it’s important to work with experts who know how to recruit top talent.

Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn how we can help your team grow.

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