Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

4 Traits to Look for When Hiring New Employees

In April, TIME identified four qualities that all great employees possess. When it came to these four traits, employers admitted that a majority of their employees exhibited only average performance.

However, each of these characteristics are the type that can be introduced and developed in current employees through mentorships and training seminars. And while that’s great for your small business, hiring employees who already possess these qualities is even better.

1. Critical thinking. Perhaps the most important, many employees and job candidates are lacking in critical thinking. Do they know how to write business proposals? Yes. Can they give a presentation? Of course. However, when it comes to thinking on their feet, it’s oftentimes a skill that must be crafted.

You can see if a job candidate is already well versed in this skill by asking these questions during an interview:

    • Can you tell me about a problem that came up at your last job that required an immediate decision on your part?
    • Have you ever had to make a decision without all of the available facts? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?

2. Communication. This is pretty easy to decipher during the interview process. You’ll be able to tell if a candidate is a good communicator through their conversation with you. Do they answer your questions? Do their answers flow fluidly?

In addition to gauging their communication skills, you can ask about them as well:

  • Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 on your communication skills and provide three examples that prove your rating.
  • Has there ever been a time in your past work experiences where you’ve felt your managers or coworkers haven’t communicated with you effectively? How did you handle this?

3. Collaboration. In most cases, a job candidate’s ability to truthfully work well with others will be gleaned through their references. However, that doesn’t mean it should be off limits in the job interview. Asking in the interview will also give you a chance to compare their answers with that of their references.

Here is what you can ask in the interview:

  • Do you work better alone or on a team? And why?
  • Give an instance in which a team member didn’t do his or her part. How did you handle that?

4. Creativity. From the resume to the job interview, you’ll be able to gauge creativity easily in this job market. Candidates these days realize the importance of sticking out from the crowd, whether it’s through a creative resume or out-of-the-box interview answers.

Again, though, there are questions you can ask in the interview to test their creative juices:

  • If you could be a superhero, what would your super powers be?
  • If you could compare yourself to an animal, which would it be?

Frankly, you may not be able to assess the depth at which job candidates pose the four traits of great employees, but it’s a start. Gauging their abilities in these areas before you hire them will tell you whether or not you have to start from scratch or develop these skills further. Ideally, you’ll want to opt for the latter for the best results for your small business.

Do you have any tried and true interview questions that help you uncover a desired candidate attribute? Share with us below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by dullhunk

Kathryn Randolph

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.

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