Recruiting can sometimes feel like Russian roulette. Finding out if a potential candidate is knowledgeable and skilled in their field is the easy part. You can judge that from a resume or a trial project during the application process. But determining if a person is a good fit for your company culture, if they'll work well with others and be dedicated to their responsibilities—all equally important factors in the hiring process—is not so easy. Hiring a candidate without the full picture of their personality can feel like a roll of the dice.
That's why it's helpful to be aware of the traits of a good employee before starting interviews. With this knowledge in mind, you can devise questions for your interviewees that will get to the crux of their personalities, and shine the light on their strengths. By the same token, an awareness of the worst employee traits will also help you identify a candidate's weaknesses during the interview.
Here are five character traits of a good employee to look out for while hiring, as well as the opposite traits to avoid.
Rather than worrying about their ego when a problem arises and defending their actions, a good employee switches into problem-solving mode. They are quick to take initiative, assess the situation before them and consider next steps.
Good employees have standards for their behavior. They have a sense of right and wrong and see a clear distinction between the two, rather than a blurred line. They adhere to the moral standards established by their company, allowing them to be successful in striving toward the company's mission.
While "integrity" is most often thought of as moral uprightness in a workplace setting, it can also mean the state of being whole or undivided. In this light, any action that works against the unity of a team, such as gossip, animosity, or vindictive behavior, can be seen as the opposite of integrity. An employee who engages in these unprofessional behaviors is a threat to the performance of the entire team, let alone their own responsibilities. This is not the kind of person you want to hire.
It has never been more critical for employees to be able to learn how to react to change than in 2020. Technologies and current events are a constant source of change in the workplace. Good employees rise to the challenge rather than getting stuck in old habits.
If you're keeping a close eye on the bad traits of employees, you may notice a theme: bad employees focus on themselves. When a problem arises, they are quick to defend themselves rather than work on solutions. When change is required of them, they cling to old ways, thinking they know what's best.
The same can be said about a bad employee's approach to teamwork. An employee who only seeks to serve him or herself will not be able to listen to the advice of others, use feedback to become better, or aid others toward success.
On the other hand, a good employee is respectful of others' opinions and open to criticism.
They admit a good idea when they hear one, even if it didn't come out of their own mouth, because the success of the team is more important than any one individual's success. Your best employees will be the ones who encourage collaboration.
It may not be easy to identify these traits of a good employee in a candidate, but it isn't impossible. By encouraging interviewees to elaborate on experiences related to problem-solving, integrity, flexibility, respect, and teamwork, you'll be able to spot these invaluable characteristics when you see them.
For more help hiring the right fit for your open position, download our hiring for personality guide.
Editor's Note: Originally published 9/20/16; updated 4/4/20.