Top 15 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Employee

Kelly Cantwell

Hiring employees has become more challenging since the Great Resignation, the rise of remote and hybrid work, and new technology impacting so many job roles and industries. However, knowing the qualities to look for when hiring new employees, and how to evaluate job candidates for them, can help you feel more confident in your hiring decisions.

Qualities employers look for in job candidates

The definition of good qualities in a job applicant varies, but the following personality traits and skills are highly sought after by most hiring managers.

Qualities employers look for in potential employees.

1. Communication skills (written and verbal)

High-performing teams communicate across roles and functions, making it the most in-demand skill in business today. With remote and hybrid work, written and verbal communication across technology platforms is a must-have skill for employees at every level. 72.7% of employers state that they're specifically looking for written communication skills in job candidates.

2. Problem solving

When it comes to good candidate qualities, problem solving skills rank near the top of most lists. The ability to identify issues, plan solutions, and work with others to resolve problems is key to smooth operations and product innovation.

3. Team player

More can be accomplished, often in less time, with the collective energy, intelligence, and creativity of a group of people working together. The ability to engage with others who have different skill sets and come from different backgrounds is one of the qualities to look for when hiring a new employee. Testing to assess teamwork skills is an efficient way to identify potential team members with this skill during the hiring process.

4. Adaptability and flexibility

In a fast-changing work world, you want employees who will change their priorities in response to new demands. Flexibility means overcoming the fear of change and being willing to try new things. Testing for adaptability will help you find the employees who can evolve and adjust with confidence.

5. Strong work ethic

Employees who aren't afraid of hard work and who have the integrity and discipline to consistently perform at their best can drive productivity in your organization and improve team spirit. It is no wonder that this trait tops the lists of qualities employers look for in potential employees.

6. Dependability

You need people on your team who show up on time, follow company policies and procedures, are organized, and can manage their time effectively, even under adverse or stressful conditions.

7. Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills

Being empathetic toward other people and having self-awareness of their own feelings and motivations are key aspects of top-performing employees. People with emotional intelligence are better at working with others and make excellent leaders. You don't have to hope you find this quality in job candidates—testing for emotional intelligence will help you find those who have it.

8. Culture fit or add

Maintaining a harmonious work environment that continues to perform well requires finding people who have the values, outlook, and management styles that align with your company's mission. Even better, finding these in candidates who also bring diversity to your company can help push innovation without risking groupthink. Culture fit testing during hiring can help you identify the right people for your team.

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9. Honesty and integrity

You need to be able to trust your employees to do the right thing by the company, by other team members, and by your customers and partners. Team members need to have shared values with each other and with company leadership.

10. Analytic and quantitative skills

Metrics matter more than ever. Quantitative skills and the ability to work with numbers are necessary in a candidate for nearly every job role. Your business will benefit from employees who can accurately observe and interpret information.

11. Confidence and leadership skills

The ability to inspire others to focus on a goal, support them, and keep them motivated is a necessary employee skill to move your business forward. Your leaders encourage and enable team members to achieve greatness within the company, both personally and as a group. Even in non-management roles, candidates with good leadership skills are an asset.

12. Creativity and innovation

Creativity and the ability to innovate is the lifeblood of a growing business. Nearly every industry is subject to ongoing change, and that requires new approaches. Bringing in people who are open thinkers and see change as a positive thing will help your business thrive through fluctuations.

13. Willingness to learn

Many of the qualities already listed are related to being willing to learn. People who are rigid, set in their ways, closed to change, and highly invested in their own current expertise may slow your organization down and negatively affect your culture. You want employees who are happy to step outside of their comfort zones and embrace the unfamiliar with enthusiasm.

14. Positive attitude

Employees with a positive attitude will carry your organization through challenges and trying times. When you add people with this quality to your organization, it is tremendously empowering to teams and even to clients.

15. Good judgment

Good judgment requires the ability to assess situations and evaluate options. Being able to rely on your employees to make the right call will drive good decision making at every level. You don't want to micromanage everything, and having different perspectives can help you make better choices.

The challenge of identifying qualities of a good employee

Knowing what makes someone a good candidate for a job is a start, but uncovering their skill levels and accurately assessing them is not easy. While the qualities listed above have always been important, in today's hybrid workplace reality they're even more valuable than ever.

Good qualities in a job seeker don't necessarily appear in employment applications and resumes. You might get an idea of a candidate's personal qualities in a job interview, but it's hard to get consistent, unbiased, and measurable assessments this way.

Hire Success® takes the guesswork out of candidate assessments and helps identify potential employees that have the qualities and skills you need.