Hickock Boardman Benefits

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Seeking the best employees? Look for these five traits.

In the tightest labor market since the 1960s, finding talent is as difficult as it’s ever been.  Employers, rightly, have been focused on differentiating themselves as a great place to work to attract talent, but many employers continue to look for the wrong attributes in candidates.  In an increasingly agile and evolving world, looking for “experience” and “skills” is a losing proposition.  While ramp up time may be shorter, it’s long-term loss as business continues to change. 

When I think about the successful employees I know who push organizations forward, and I am fortunate to know many in the work that I do, they share certain traits regardless of role and these are the traits we should all be looking for in our next teammates.

So, what should employers be looking for?

  1. Smarts.  Smarts matter.  Bright people are curious.  They seek to solve problems.  They ask big questions.  They come up with new ideas and innovate.  They push things forward and rarely are satisfied with the status quo.  And smarts doesn’t mean an Ivy League education.  Some of the smartest people I know are tradespeople who don’t have a formal education.  But they are curious and forward thinking and know how to solve problems.  Seek this trait out in candidates by asking behavioral interview questions about problem solving, curiosity and idea generation.
  1. Grinding.  I love grinders.  Grinders are those teammates, regardless of role, who roll their sleeves up and get the job done.  No job is too big and no job is too small.  They are great teammates who are resilient and want to get work done.  There is no entitlement mentality with grinders.  Nothing is beneath them.  When needed they makes copies, they get coffee, they work the line, they pick up the trash.  When interviewing, ask candidates about their grinding and grit and have them give examples. 
  1. Relationships.  Think about your ideal employees.  What do they have that others don’t?  They’re good at their job, but likely what sets them apart is that they’re also good at building relationships.  With teammates, with managers, with clients.  They understand and value their interactions with others.  They build trust and they make sure they’re there when needed.  And because of those relationships they are able to exponentially help get more work done.  Ask candidates about their ability to form relationships and why it’s important.
  1. Expertise.  Nothing builds credibility more than watching someone who’s good at their craft.  We admire those who are really good at what they do – it could be a musician, an athlete, a tradesperson, a speaker, a salesperson, an executive, an administrative assistant.  Some of this comes with experience, but it also comes with confidence.  That someone feels they are the right person to get the job done.  Arrogance is bad.  A healthy confidence with a does of humility is good.  Confidence, nurtured, leads to expertise.  Because someone doesn’t have expertise now, doesn’t mean they won’t soon.  None of us come out of the womb with knowledge.  Interview for confidence and, again, ask for examples of successes