Top 5 Desired Characteristics in an Employee

One of the best parts about starting and owning a small business is being your own boss. The flip side of that coin is that now you are undoubtedly going to be someone else’s boss.

That’s a horse of a different color, isn’t it?

You want to build a team that will work well together and for you. Here are five things that you should be looking for as you sort through resumes and conduct your interviews:

1. Humility

You want someone who is confident about her abilities, but you also want someone who is confident about her limitations.

A good way to figure this out is to ask the standard “what is your biggest weakness” style of question.

Someone who is humble will be able to answer that question honestly. Someone whose pride always wins will be more likely to tell you a story that in the end still paints them as being in the right.

If the Red Guy insists he is levitating, go with someone else!

If the Red Guy insists he is levitating, go with someone else!

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/

2. Team-Oriented

You want a person who is willing and happy to work as part of a team and who is okay letting other people shine once in a while. Someone who is team-oriented will be able to get along well with other people in the employee pool and is just as good at listening as they are at talking.

Look for resumes and cover letters that talk about “being a part of [such and such] team” as well as leadership positions.

3. Honesty

At the very least, you want an employee who will not lie to you when you ask a direct question. The best case scenario is an employee who will be just as honest with you when you are wrong as they are about themselves when they are wrong.

The easiest way to figure this out is to actually check out the information shared with you on a resume, in a cover letter, or in an interview. The honest person’s story will match up with what the reference tells you or what your fact-finding mission turns up. A dishonest person might have the basic details right but will likely have spun the story to paint themselves as a victim of circumstance.

4. A Healthy Hunger

The hungry employee wants to learn and is always looking for chances to raise herself up within the company and to promote your offerings to the outside world.

Be careful: You want someone who is hungry, not someone who is a shark. The primary difference is that the hungry employee puts the company and the team first while the shark puts only herself first.

If only a shark made it this easy to identify herself!

If only a shark made it this easy to identify herself!

Image: Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive way to figure out what type of hungry an employee is until you’ve hired her. Sharkiness usually comes out during an evaluation period—which is why evaluation periods are a good idea.

5. Creativity

You want someone who is able to look for opportunities to help your business grow and improve. This can be as big as coming up with a new product idea or as small as finding a way to streamline the reservation process for the conference room.

To gauge creativity, present an employee with a scenario and ask the person to solve it. A creative person will think and come up with something. A yes-man is more likely to find a way to defer the decision-making and innovating back to you.

It will take time for you to develop a gut instinct for the hiring process. In the meantime, that’s what evaluation periods are for!

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer and blogger who firmly believes in using business VoIP for her professional needs and using vicious call screening for her personal needs.

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