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The Qualities You Should Look For in a Job Candidate


Hiring employees is nothing to take lightly, as having to do it over and over again can be a costly business. That’s why it’s so crucial to hire the right candidates the first time. But how do you manage that? It’s not rocket science, but does take some dedication and preparation. Need a bit of guidance in this arena? Read on for the qualities you should be looking for in job candidates. Hint: It’s not the perfect answer to, “What are your biggest flaws?”

Absence of Red Flags

First and foremost, you don’t want a candidate to exhibit any immediate red flags. These are cause for concern and should warrant the lack of a second interview. If they’ve got poor listening skills and can’t maintain eye contact, these things will carry over into their jobs and, ultimately, into meetings and performance. And, although job-hopping is more common these days than it has been in our parents’ eras, it’s still a red flag if someone hasn’t been able to hold a job for more than year.

If a person talks about how long the commute to the interview was, this is a bad sign. No matter how dedicated this person thinks he or she is, that will get old after a while (and sometimes only after a few weeks). You also want to pay attention to their reasons for leaving jobs. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be out of work (layoffs, companies going under, etc.), but if you notice that they steadily play the victim, this is a big red flag.

Ability to Finish Projects

We all know someone who is great at starting things. It’s almost a compulsion. These people can be mesmerizing with their enthusiasm at the beginning of the project. But whether it’s an attention deficit or something else entirely, the person has already moved on to the next thing before completing the previous project. You need someone who can swiftly and efficiently take a project from end to end, so make sure any candidate you interview can tell you about several times that she was able to do so.

Fiscal Responsibility

Having a good grip on finances is a sign of maturity, and that’s something we should all want to see in our candidates. Applicants know that they will likely have to go through a background check, so consider using a company like ShareAble for Hires by Transunion. A pre-hire employment background check like this is a must, as it shows financial history and criminal records; this information will help you avoid hiring someone with something to hide. Again, the goal is to get this right the first time around, and this will help you to do so.

Positive Attitude

If they can’t even manage to be positive in an interview, you might as well run—not walk—in the other direction. It’s not that you expect everyone to be at their very cheeriest every day in the office, but positivity is something that is contagious. So if you’ve got one bad seed that is consistently looking at the negative in every assignment or project, this could spread like a virus. Your ideal candidate should be able to prove that they have a good attitude and, ideally, an infectious amount of energy.

Ability to be a Team Player

This isn’t always the easiest thing to uncover during the interview process, but you must try, as this is a key attribute for success in any workplace. Ask them about times that they’ve had to lead projects. Ask them about times they had to be led on projects. Note the difference. Try to see if they take all the credit.

You’ll know in your gut whether this is the type of person who works well with others or is the type to want his or her name in lights. Team players are also usually the type that get along well with others, too, and you want synergy—ideally in and out of the office.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once estimated that his bad hires had cost him “well over $100 million.” Granted, we all know Tony is doing just fine, but it’s best to avoid this from the get-go. Follow these tips, do your due diligence, and you should be able to staff your company with a powerful team.


So, what do you think ?