5 Traits You Should Be Looking For In New Hires

May 5, 2016 Kelly Marc Alston

When deciding what traits to look for in your recruiting pool, there are lots of opinions and little consensus. Some experts claim that optimal traits are role-dependent: the personality traits that make a great customer service rep aren't the same ones possessed by an outstanding salesperson. Others say the only thing that matters is ‘fit’, the holy grail that is almost impossible to quantify.

So what are the top traits that employers are looking for? And what’s the best way for a hiring team to ascertain whether or not potential employees exhibit these traits?


In 2013, Angela Lee Duckworth presented this TED talk  that went viral (over 8 million views). In it, she says that ‘grit’ is the best predicator of success. She defines grit as ‘passion and perseverance for very long-term goals’. A salesman with grit continues to plug away when prospects say ‘Not interested’ because they are in it for the long haul. Software engineers with grit can surpass the accomplishments of more talented peers, simply because they stuck with trying to solve a challenge where others gave up. And grittier new hires are less likely to quit when things get tough.


Coachability is defined as ‘the extent to which people are capable of taking feedback, internalizing it, and converting it into meaningful action.’ Past experience and technical skill are important measures, but the ability to listen to constructive advice and then change direction based on this advice, is critical in today’s fast moving business world. Many hiring pundits tell you to hire for character, then train for skill. Making sure new hires are coachable ensures that they are open to learning new skills as well as new ways of thinking.


Sheila Kloefkorn, writing for the Phoenix Business Journal, identifies another important trait to look for when hiring: curiosity. There are three reasons why. First, curious thinkers tend to be critical thinkers, challenging the norm and always trying to devise new ways to approach existing problems. Second, curious thinkers have deeper, more meaningful conversations with potential (and existing) clients. They're problem solvers who want to get more information about what's going on with customers. And third, they are an asset when situations are uncertain. They look forward to ‘solving’ the ambiguity surrounding new environments and challenges.


When candidates walk into a job interview, there are certain traits that are immediately apparent. Professionalism, according to this article on Lifehacker, is one of them. From the way a candidate is dressed, to their handshake, tone of voice, and demeanor, professionalism can be judged almost instantly.


In a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, researchers looked at the specific skills and qualities necessary for job success. They concluded that conscientiousness was the trait most closely associated with overall job performance. Conscientiousness is defined as ‘being dependable, persevering, and orderly’. They dug deeper and correlated satisfactory work completion, going ‘above and beyond’, and infrequent negative interactions with a high level conscientiousness.

So what can hiring teams do to ascertain whether candidates possess these traits? Take a look at your current hiring practices. Is your screening process systematic so that candidates are asked the same questions in the same way? Is it collaborative, incorporating multiple points of view? Is it interactive, creating a dialogue between your company and candidates to get a complete picture of who they are and how they can contribute? If not, it's time to rethink your process so you can get the new hires who possess the traits necessary for success.

Hoops delivers high definition candidate profiles so you can identify the best candidates for your open positions. Give us a call at (877) 262-7358 to find out how!

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