10 Must Have Character Traits of Stellar Employees and the Questions You Need to Ask

It can’t be stressed enough just how important it is to hire the right people.  People are truly the backbone of any successful company.  The right person can help you launch your company to new heights, while the wrong person can almost single-handedly wreck your hard work and effort.  Many times when working with your team or with clients you will see businesses hiring out of “desperation” not “inspiration”.  When you are trying to fill a slot with just a body it never works out.  It is better to hold off on the hiring process to find the right people.  The time, effort, and financial commitment it takes to hire people who are not the right fit is very costly.

Here are 10 traits you should look for when hiring a new employee:

  1. Learner – find a learner who consistently wants to improve and grow. It’s not all about what the candidates know today, but what they have the ability to learn. Information can always be taught, so hire on future success and personality.
  2. Listener – hire a listener who will talk only after they have listened first. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is left unsaid or only partially said.
  3. Problem Solver - employ a solver who does not just see problems, but finds solutions. Those who create value are the ones who fix the problems that companies face and doesn’t ignore them.  Too many companies are filled with people who talk but don’t execute.  Stellar employees find ways to proactively improve systems, creating positive change even when the boss has not yet asked for it.  They identify opportunities and then go all in.
  4. Appreciator - Discover an appreciator who will thank and encourage others. Invest in people who inspire others to be better and treat everyone with respect.
  5. Communicator - Find a communicator who will speak effectively, not just someone who likes to talk. Strong employees understand that hiding bad news helps no one. They tell people what’s necessary before major damage is done, and they find kind ways to have those uncomfortable conversations.
  6. Thinker - Appoint a thinker who always searches for better, more efficient ways to do things. No one knows everything, but valuable employees are ones who will learn, as opposed to ones who think they already know everything they need to know.
  7. Planner - Hire a planner who can set and meet deadlines. Effective employees drive their own high performance. They give bosses peace of mind by performing tasks to the same high standards the bosses demand from themselves.
  8. Motivator - Select a motivator who has the enthusiasm that will influence others. These employees lead by example, driving their own career while inspiring others to do the same. They advance without creating animosity or resentment.  They see and create their perfect future, while bringing others along.
  9. Team Player - Employ a team player who can work well with others. A team player is not only the one willing to work hard; but the employee who searches out ways to contribute most. Smart, hard-working people thrive alongside other smart, hard-working people.
  10. Acceptor - Find an acceptor who takes responsibility for their own results. Everyone has failures and successes, find an employee who owns theirs and becomes better for it.

It’s imperative to come up with interview questions that dig deep into a potential hire’s passion, drive, commitment, and problem-solving skills.  Focusing on just job responsibilities and skills is not the right approach.  You first need to find out if the candidate is a strong fit as a person first.

Here are some character questions you must ask:

  • Tell me about yourself? It’s a question that begs for a creative response.  It’s an invitation to the candidate to show character and imagination, and inventiveness.
  • What is your weakness? Translation: Even though the interviewee is sharing a lot of great qualities about himself, we all know that nobody is perfect. The real question is, can he admit to his faults or shortcomings and convince us that they will not be a problem, should we decide to hire him?

My advice to the interviewee: If you’re going into a position or industry that is new to you, bring up any potential obstacles or concerns at the beginning of the interview. It’s better to be honest about these things upfront than to pretend you have all the answers while being grilled by the interviewer (they’ll see right through you!). The key is, however, to be able to share how you would go about overcoming these challenges by giving examples from your previous job. Always turn your weakness into a positive. And please, people… keep you answers professional and work-related. Nobody wants to hear about your fear of bees or your insecurities about relationships.

  • What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?
  • What have you been doing since your last position ended? Translation: Why have you been out of work for so long?
  • What are things about work that you have found that you like the best?
  • What skills do you possess that would have individuals listen to you?
  • If you had to list three factors that have prevented you from being even further along than you are now, what are they? Translation:  Does the candidate accept responsibility by blaming their own internal decisions, or do they shift blame to outside conditions?
  • What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome in the past year? Problem solving is the major topic covered by this question.  What kind of thinker is this candidate?  Can they do projects on their own or does their manager need to hold their hand.  It also confirms how determined they can be toward a project.
  • Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career. Discussing a single accomplishment is an easy way to open doors to additional information and insight about the person, his or her work habits, and how the person works with others.  When candidates can’t point to a prior accomplishment, they are unlikely to be able to accomplish much for your business.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Does the applicant really understand this position and are their career goals in alignment with the company? The interviewer is NOT necessarily interested in the applicant’s family and travel plans at this stage of the game.  If you see someone’s eyes light up at the thought of the future, then you can tell this is a very ambitious person who knows where they want to go and will do everything they can to get there.

Teambuilding can be challenging, but assembling the right players can make all the difference in growing your business.  Sometimes other people are the key to our own success.


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