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10 New Hire Traits to Look For When Interviewing Applicants

traits to look for when hiring
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When interviewing potential new employees, it is important to make a list of new hire traits you want for your small business. By looking for these traits, you may save your company time and turnover. 

Here are 10 new hire traits which are important for most small businesses:

1. Communication 

When interviewing your applicant, you should look for great communication skills. It is fine if they are a little nervous, but you are looking for someone to represent your small business in every aspect. An analysis of 2.3 million LinkedIn Users showed nearly 58% of users that had advertised they had great communication skills on their LinkedIn profiles were hired in less than a year. 

Communication is an important new hire trait. Whether an employee is an introvert or extrovert, they need to be able to communicate with all types of people. 

An example interview question you could use to determine good communication skills would be, “Describe a time you used verbal communication to get a point across which was important to you.” Additionally, it would be good to find out if they know the right time to use verbal or written communication. 

2. Ambition 

It is important for you to identify exactly what you need for your small business. Do you need employees short-term or long-term? If you are looking for long-term team members, you should find out if they have ambition to grow as your business gets larger. Are they motivated? 

Sometimes it may be worth it to hire someone with less experience and more motivation to learn. Some are so ambitious, and they really want a chance to start in your company. 

You can find out their ambition and motivation by asking about their long-term goals. Ambition is an important new hire trait. Dive deeper to find out what they think they can do for your company. 

3. Leadership 

Every employee isn’t going to be hired to be a leader. However, you want to ensure those that want to be a leader now or in the future have those skills or those skills can be developed. For small businesses, it is important to figure out what you need now and what you may need in the future. 

What leadership skills are important for you in your small business? 

If you hire someone who isn’t expected to lead now, do you see traits through your questions which suggest they could be a leader in the future? Where do they want to go in your company? 

4. Teamwork

You may want someone who likes the idea of working with others in a team environment. Does your company have people who will wear many hats and work with others? It is important to find those who can work on a team in most business settings. Even an IT person will have internal customers. As a small business, working in teams to achieve a goal is important. 

A good interview question to ask, “Can you give me an example of a time when it was critical for you to work with another individual or team outside your department to complete an assignment or deliver a service?”

Teamwork is a critical new hire trait, especially for a small business. Furthermore, you want your employees to be able to work together. 


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5. Respectful

Does your applicant say “thank you” or “you’re welcome” in the interview? Finding employees who are respectful can be important. Also, you want someone who is respectful to their managers, fellow team members, and customers.  If you are hiring for a leadership role you also want someone who is respectful to their employees.

How do they handle working with someone emotional or someone who has different views than them? Being respectful is an important new hire trait regardless of what role they are working in the company.

6. Customer Focused

It is important that every employee in your company be customer focused and deliver a great customer service. It may be that the employee is serving internal or external customers, but every person should know how to work with customers. 

How do they resolve customer complaints? It is important to determine how they dealt with a difficult person. Also, you should find out how they served that difficult person. People tell many others of their bad experiences. You should hire those that know how to turn someone’s bad experience into a good one. 

7. Interpersonal Skills

This new hire trait is important for anyone in your company. Is this person easygoing? During the interview, did you find it easy to build rapport? Could customers and other team members talk to them?  

You probably want likeable people working for you and representing your business to others. Furthermore, you want people who listen well, cooperate with others, and have great listening skills. Find those with great interpersonal skills to work for you. 

8. Delivers results

In your small business, you will have people doing many things. You want those who can deliver results for you. It is important to have those who like to finish goals and achieve or overachieve goals. 

A good question to ask would be, “Tell me about a goal you had in your last role. How did you achieve it? As you were working towards your goal, what roadblocks did you encounter?” 

It is important to ask for those roadblocks. Every person faces road blocks in their work. How do they get around them to achieve their goals? 

9. Trust and Loyalty

You may think this isn’t important unless you are hiring for a leadership role or for someone who is handling the financial aspects of the business. However, trust and loyalty is important in all roles and you need to trust all of your employees. It is important that you are able to trust them with your reputation and your company brand. 

You want those who are loyal to your company. You don’t want to worry they are posting online negative comments about your products or your employees. If your employees are not loyal, then you can’t trust what they are going to say to your customers. 

Ask them questions like, “Tell me about a time when you trusted someone, and they let you down?” 

10. Compassion

Compassion towards others in business is important regardless of what role you are hiring for in your company. You want compassionate leaders and team members. Do they feel empathy towards others? 

Customers don’t want to be sold a product that isn’t useful to them. Furthermore, they want to know your employees are compassionate about their needs. It is about having emotional intelligence and awareness to use empathy at the right times.

How do they treat those who are elderly or handicapped? Are they compassionate to them? 


Final Thoughts on New Hire Traits

You may have other new hire traits you need for your small business. It is important to research what those are and also ensure those qualities are on the job description. You may want to put them on the performance review as well. 

Also research other new hire traits you may need for leaders. You may want other traits added like strategic thinking and managing work performance. Think about every role you have now and what you will need later. 

Ensure you find new hire traits which align with your company culture. What new hire traits are needed to make your small business successful?  


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.


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