As a business owner, you know that skilled employees lead to a successful business. While candidates possess many skills, there are five key attributes that new employees should have.
So first, congratulations! Your business is expanding and you are ready to hire some new, well-qualified candidates. If you’re new to the game, however, you may be unsure what “well-qualified” means. While it is important that your candidates possess the skills necessary for your specific field (a master’s degree in engineering, for example), there are five specific traits that every potential employee should possess.
1. A Strong Work Ethic
A candidate with a strong work ethic will find the best and most efficient way to complete the job at hand. Generally, those with a solid work ethic believe that hard work pays off, making them excellent candidates for almost any position. Furthermore, these individuals are most likely to work their way up the ranks into a leadership position.
Mistakes can be very telling of someone’s work ethic, not to mention their ability to take responsibility for their actions. Ask your candidates about a mistake they made at a past job — remember, everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it’s how a person handles it that can make the biggest difference. What happened that led to the error, and what steps did he or she take to correct it? Did a superior need to be notified? Most importantly, how did the candidate learn from the experience?
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2. Works Well Independently and in a Team
In most work environments, employees are expected to complete tasks both independently and as a part of a team. Even if the majority of their work will be completed alone, they will still be members of your organization at large, thus contributing to the common goal of your office “team.”
Talk to your candidates about the meaning of the word “team” and what an effective one looks like. Is everything a collaborative effort or does each person take care of a designated part (or both)? Why does one way work over another? Ask about previous collaborative projects and how they feel they performed. What roles did they play? Were they one of the leaders or did they let someone else take charge? It’s great if he was a leader, but don’t forget that sometimes being an effective team member means recognizing that someone else may be better suited to lead certain tasks.
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Or it could mean recognizing a missed opportunity for stronger leadership. If they do mention a missed opportunity, ask why. Why wasn’t the project as successful as it could have been? Why would they have made a better leader? Why didn’t they step up and take charge in the beginning?
3. Effective Communicator
Streamlined operations are essential to the success of your business. When your employees can communicate effectively, it makes your business run more smoothly. Every day, employees will speak to co-workers, management, clients, and customers, so ensure that they can get the message across clearly and efficiently.
Ask candidates to demonstrate how they’d approach a superior with a work-related concern. Then switch it around and ask how they’d handle a subordinate approaching them with a problem. Were they clear and concise each time? Did they communicate their concerns in a professional, respectful manner? Did the problem seem resolved at the end of the conversation? Pay close attention to how they would address someone at both levels. A hint of condescension to a subordinate might not seem like much in a mock situation, but it can cause a world of problems in a real workplace setting.
The business world can be a hectic place and those who can’t keep up often burn out early on. When searching for new candidates, it is important to find someone who can handle multiple tasks at once. This way, you will be sure that they can cope with the stress of the workplace.
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Talk to your candidates about how they feel juggling multiple deadlines. What systems do they use to keep everything on track — perhaps an online calendar or even a simple ordered to-do list? How would he handle receiving a last-minute adjustment for a client without additional time? If they can find ways to get everything done under pressure, then day-to-day should be no problem!
While flexibility is more of an attribute than a skill, it is still essential to find an employee who possesses this characteristic. As you may know, your industry can change at any time, which means you will need employees who can take on differing roles. If a candidate seems uncomfortable with a potentially shifting job description, it may be time to find someone else.
To get a clearer idea, ask for an example of how they’ve had to adapt amid the constantly-changing, constantly-growing world of business technology. We’ve all come across a cutting-edge program we weren’t familiar with or jargon that’s now commonplace. How did your candidates overcome their particular obstacles — it could be as simple as having to learn how to Facebook to work on a client’s marketing campaign — and learn to keep up with constant newness?
As a business owner, I have hired countless employees throughout the years. While possession of these traits does not guarantee that a candidate will fit into your work environment, they are certainly a good indicator. In addition to these skills, ensure that the potential employee’s personality will mesh well in your work environment. These skills, when mixed with a positive attitude and strong leadership, are a recipe for employee success.
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