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9 Traits to Watch for When Hiring in 2023

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Every business owes its success not just to its leaders but also to the employees who carry out the day-to-day operations. But how do you find the right employees for your business?

You can develop a more effective hiring strategy by prioritizing certain traits. Focus on building relationships with the best candidates who show the following qualities.

1. Personable

Even in an age of email and chatbots, strong interpersonal skills matter for client-facing roles. And all employees, even remote workers, need to get along with their team members.

Look for applicants who demonstrate strong people skills: smiling, shaking your hand firmly, maintaining eye contact and mirroring body language are just a few. This trait isn’t about hiring an extrovert over an introvert; instead, it’s about finding a candidate capable of interacting in a likable, relatable manner.

Related: 10 Strategies for Hiring and Retaining New Employees

2. Goal-Oriented

Asking job applicants about their five-year plans may sound cliché, but it’s an easy way to gauge their level of personal ambition. An applicant with a clear plan for the future will tend to be goal-oriented, which extends to how they carry out their day-to-day duties.

You might also understand a candidate’s aspirations by looking at the awards and achievements listed on their résumé. Previous accomplishments point to an ambitious, goal-driven attitude that will likely carry into the future.

You can also nurture this trait by providing opportunities for professional development and advancement, which maximizes the talents of your new hire.

3. Problem-solving

Business is all about overcoming challenges. The most valuable employees can think through these challenges and develop workable, efficient solutions.

You know that problem-solving abilities are essential for those in technical fields — but you should also cultivate these skills in everyone who works for your company.

How do you find out whether a candidate is a problem-solver? Asking questions about when the candidate had to think outside the box to solve a workplace problem is a good start. Sometimes, the candidate’s references can point out clear examples of when the candidate addressed challenging problems head-on.

Related: What to Consider When Hiring Employees

4. Technically proficient

If you’re hiring for a specialized role, you’ll want to ensure that you hire candidates who have the experience and expertise you need.

For instance, bookkeepers and accounts receivable specialists should be familiar with basic accounting software. You might also prefer candidates who know the same software platforms that your company depends on.

For hybrid or remote positions, your candidate must have experience using video conferencing or project management applications to better coordinate with you and other team members.

5. Confident

Fortune favors the bold — especially in the world of business. You want to assemble a team of decisive thinkers. Employees who delay decisions because they second-guess themselves or overanalyze the situation, will do more to prevent innovation than promote it.

Instead, seek out job applicants who can clearly articulate their strengths and back them up with real-world examples from their previous positions. While interview jitters are understandable, an applicant who avoids eye contact or struggles to articulate might lack the confidence you’re looking for in your organization.

Related: Workplace Issues Often Trickle Down From the Top. Have You Tried These 3 Ways to Fix Your Biggest Challenges?

6. Teachable

Technical proficiency is important, but every industry is evolving rapidly. Few traits are as valuable as the willingness to learn. While the ideal candidate should be confident about their existing skill set, an ability to adapt to new technologies or business models is often far more valuable.

Ask candidates about new skills they’ve picked up or acquired from previous employers. Better yet, ask your applicants what skills they want to develop while working for your company. Their answers will reveal a lot about their ability to learn new skills as well as their eagerness to apply these skills in a new setting.

7. Trustworthy

Personal integrity is about more than just following the rules. An employee who demonstrates consistent honesty and integrity will contribute to a transparent company culture. You also need employees you can depend on during every business cycle phase.

The best way to assess the trustworthiness of a job applicant is by contacting their references — particularly previous employers. Ideally, you want to learn that your applicant has a strong attendance record and that their previous employers could rely on their participation and support.

Related: The Best Employees Have These ’31 Flavors’

8. Collaborative

Business is a team sport, so you need to hire candidates who play well with others. Even if the position requires much solo work, you’ll still want to know that your employees can function well as a team when called upon.

This trait often surfaces during the interview process. When you ask an applicant to list past accomplishments, listen for clues indicating that they collaborated with other team members.

If you can’t tell from this list alone, ask probing questions about how the candidate has worked with coworkers. You can even ask about how they’ve handled past conflicts to learn how well they’ve navigated office relationships.

Related: Quiet Quitting Preceded Another Insidious Workplace Issue That’s Unfolding Right Now, Survey Reveals

9. Loyal

Employee turnover is a major threat to any company. The time and money you spend replacing an employee can be put to better use in growing your core business. The best employees commit to your company for multiple years, allowing you to build a lasting relationship and maximize their skills.

Be wary of workers whose resumes indicate a lot of job-hopping. That’s especially true if their past work experience has been in fields similar to yours. Don’t dismiss these candidates entirely — sometimes, finding a company culture that fits takes a while. But make sure to investigate the reasons for so much past instability.

Identifying candidates with the most sought-after traits will improve your chances of assembling an effective team. It will also make screening your job applicants easier, streamlining the hiring process.

For critical positions, executive search firms can assist you with screening and hiring top-quality candidates. But to ensure that you staff your business with the right people at every level, look for these key traits of successful employees.

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