When it comes to bringing a new employee on board, there is a lot more that needs to be looked at than simply the hard skills that they possess. If you want to bring in someone who will be successful in the position, serve the needs of the company, and exceed your expectations, you will need to look at the soft skills they bring to the table. When a candidate possess the necessary technical skills and pairs them with characteristics like proactiveness, adaptability, and reliability, they become the epitome of a top-quality choice who will bring the best value to your company. Soft skills can be a bit more difficult to narrow in on and assess, but the following highlights some of the top qualities of a good candidate that you can look for during your next hiring process.

Proactive and Self-Motivated

Some of the top characteristics of a good employee are motivation and proactivity. A boss won’t want to be peering over their employee’s shoulders every hour to make sure they are doing the work. They need an employee who they can confidently trust to do the tasks at hand and take initiative in order to get things done. A successful employee can complete a task with minimal guidance, and anticipate what needs to be done next.

This is particularly true when someone is first adjusting to their role in their first few weeks or months. Of course, there will be a learning curve, but a professional who is self-motivated and proactive will be able to independently find the answers to any questions they have, and make the transition into the position as seamless as possible.  

Employee meeting

Strong Interpersonal and Communication Skills

One of the other signs of a good employee is someone who can communicate well with both clients and co-workers. Strong interpersonal skills are particularly necessary for customer or client facing roles, like a retail associate, but they are also key for any candidate who will need to communicate with other employees within the company—which is a part of essentially every position imaginable. Solid communication skills mean that a professional knows how to share their ideas, distill any necessary information, and overall interact with others tactfully and with respect. A good communicator doesn’t just make it easy to share information. They also can make the difference between an important message being shared accurately and efficiently, and one that simply gets lost in the shuffle, or altered away from its original meaning.

Quick-Thinking and Adaptable

Qualities of a good candidate include someone who can easily adapt to change and think on their feet. When looking at potential employees, you will want someone who is able to adjust to changes in the business. Whether your company goes through seasonal changes or an unexpected issue arises, you will want someone who can continue to productively work through the different phases and not be thrown by any unforeseen circumstances. On top of that, you will want someone who can adapt to collaborating with people who have different personalities and work styles in order to be as flexible as possible.   

Consistently Reliable

Without a doubt, one of the most important characteristics of a good employee is someone who is reliable. A candidate who follows through on their tasks and commitments and is consistently available to assist when they are needed is vital for the success of a company. Even if they have all of the above mentioned qualities and the necessary hard skills, if you can’t count on them to consistently show up and do a good job, all of the other characteristics are essentially worthless. It can be tricky to immediately determine if a candidate will be a reliable asset if hired, but there is one initial test that will give you some insight. If a candidate shows up on time (or a bit early) for their interview, there is a good chance they are someone you can count on. If they show up late, it may be best to look for someone else who better values your time.

Strong Work Ethic and a Willingness to Take on Challenges

A strong work ethic is also one of the essential signs of a good employee. When it comes to bringing someone on your team, you will want a professional who will show up, dedicate themselves fully to their tasks, and work in the best interest of their co-workers and the business. You want someone who is willing to take on the challenges that come their way. You don’t want someone who is simply there for the paycheck, and doing mediocre work with lackluster energy. Hire someone who sets goals, has a vision for how they can best serve the company, and has a willingness to be the best they can be for the sake of the company.

Open to Learning New Skills

You will want a candidate who is willing and able to learn new skills. Changes in the industry or new ventures of a business often mean that employees will need to take on new tasks, and gain skills that will help them approach and complete them successfully. A strong candidate is someone who can grow their skill set in order to adapt to the changes as they roll in. Oftentimes, showing an ability and willingness to learn can be more valuable than having the exact skill set desired for a candidate who is filling a position, particularly if they possesses the other top qualities mentioned. Of course, they need to have the necessary skills for a job, but it is important to remember that hard skills can be learned; soft skills are generally more inherent.

A Positive Attitude

The attitude of an employee can play a huge part in the overall environment of a workplace, and one of the often overlooked characteristics of a good employee is an optimistic outlook. An employee who brings their negative attitude can easily bring down the energy of everyone else in the space. On the other hand, a professional with a positive attitude will only help to lift up everyone around them, helping to establish a healthier workplace environment. If you want a candidate who enhances the overall environment and wellbeing of your employees, rather than diminish it, seek out someone who can come in with a positive attitude. Naturally, you don’t want someone who is optimistic to the point of naivety. However, a candidate who can bring their positive attitude to the workplace and, perhaps more importantly, maintain that outlook when working through challenges can be incredibly beneficial.  

Good Fit with the Company Culture

Cultural fit is another quality of a good candidate that can often be overlooked. The company culture can be incredibly different from workplace to workplace, so it is important to take a look at the overall environment of your business. A workplace that highly values building strong relationships between co-workers, going on company outings, and possesses a super casual atmosphere, for example, may not be the best fit for a candidate who keeps to themself, has more experience in formal work settings, or would rather focus inward.