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Before you hire your next employee, it is important to narrow down the top qualities and characteristics that you want to see in your applicants.

The best personality traits and work ethic characteristics in an employee may vary depending on the company's values or the nature of the position. For example, leadership qualities may be crucial for a managerial role while time management may be more important for a project-based role with strict deadlines.

Every company culture is unique but these top four general qualities are the factors that you should always be looking for in a potential hire.

Once you determine which key qualities are the most important to your company, then you can frame your interview questions around how the applicant measures up. Being proactive about what you are looking for in an employee prevents high turnover rates that slow down business processes.

To avoid a bad hire, contemplate these top four qualities and characteristics before you make a concrete hiring decision. 


Motivation or passion are qualities that are hard, if not impossible skills to teach so it is crucial that new hires are coming into the interview with these character traits. Without an aspect of self-motivation, potential hires can end up lacking the ability to meet deadlines and productivity goals.

The last thing you want in a new hire is an indifferent attitude and a lack of urgency. As a boss, it can significantly slow procedures and cause massive frustration if you feel that you constantly need to babysit and remind an employee why they should do their job.

When applicants can show that they are motivated and passionate about the position and what they bring to the table, then they are easier to trust to get the work done. As an employer, you want ambitious and confident employees that are driven to succeed and reach goals.

On top of an applicant's individual and personal sense of motivation, it is even better if this quality also translates into a team environment. When a new hire's motivational energy is strong, it can be contagious and encourage motivation in other employees. For this reason, motivation is a trait that is often linked to leadership skills.

During the interview process, you can gauge a candidate's sense of personal motivation by asking questions about their career goals or driving passions. Even a simple question like, "What motivates you?" can reveal the perfect answer from the perfect new hire.


When you hire a new team member, you need to be sure that they are reliable and dependable. No matter what the position, all employees require a certain sense of reliability to handle their responsibilities and do what needs to be done. 

If you request for an applicant to follow up on the interview with certain documents and they say they will email them to you by a certain time and then they don't, this is a huge red flag. You need to trust that a potential hire is loyal to their word and will stick to what they promise.

Similarly, if an employee is late to an interview, this isn't a good sign. You want an employee who is reliable to show up to work on time and when they are scheduled. You also need to be able to rest assured that your employee will meet deadlines, complete necessary tasks, and communicate potential roadblocks.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are a crucial character trait in almost every position, though the nature of these communication skills can differ from job to job. In general, you want a worker who will keep you updated and respond promptly when necessary.

You also want an employee who has effective communication skills that don't cause unnecessary conflict. The worst thing for an office or work environment is a short-tempered or mean an employee who is difficult to talk and engage with. All it takes is one worker with poor communication skills to poison a team environment and slow work procedures.

Strong communication skills can be evident in a candidate's sociability and tone throughout the interview or through their response to questions surrounding experiences with conflict resolution. You can also review a potential hire's resume, cover letter,  or emails to see how their written communication skills measure up.  

Some good questions to ask during an interview to gauge your applicant's communication skills are:

  • "Tell me about a time you experienced a roadblock that caused you to miss a deadline. How did you communicate this to your superior?"
  • "Tell me about a time when a client was displeased with your service. How did you respond or resolve the issue?"
  • "Tell me about a time you received negative feedback or constructive criticism from a boss. How did you respond?"


Teachability is a quality that is often overlooked in potential hires but it can be incredibly important to their success as an employee. While a certain degree of concrete experience is necessary for most positions, an employee's ability to learn new skills or methods is crucial to how they fit into a unique company and position.

As an employer, you want a worker who knows what they are doing and is independent enough not to need excessive guidance, but you should also want an employee who is eager to learn. Individuals who learn from their superiors and their own experiences are more guaranteed to grow into well-rounded and successful professionals within your business.

To determine if a potential hire is a teachable individual, look for qualities of adaptability. In a work environment that is likely to undergo changes and introductions of new business procedures, you want someone who is ready to learn and doesn't turn up their nose to a new way of doing things.

During the interview, ask questions about how the candidate takes educational situations, feedback, criticism, or how they handle changes. If they appear to be too stuck in their ways and opposed to learning new things, then they might not be an easy person to work with. 

If an employee is teachable, then you can build them up in their role to eventually take on a higher position. If they understand the value of learning and being taught new things, then they may also translate these skills into the ability to teach other employees and team members, too.

You can increase the likelihood of these characteristics and qualities in your candidate pool by proactively recruiting professionals that would be fit for the role. Check out our blog post on Why Recruiting is the Most Successful Business Strategy and Talent Acquisition versus Recruiting for more tips on finding the perfect new hire.

To guarantee strong employee retention you need to begin with the hiring process. Visit our Recruitment Services for more information on how we can help you find your next star employee and contact us today to get started.