Hiring the Hero: 9 Traits to Look For in Successful Candidates

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How do you find an all-star employee? Here's what to look for in a candidate that will not only fit the skill set, but drive success.

Recruiting is usually only about filling a set of skills, knowledge, interests, and values. Today, companies want to look for those potential employees capable of driving success in the short term and at the lowest cost which is no easy task, especially when so many factors are in play when it comes to employee engagement and satisfaction.

According to recent Gallup poll, 70% of American workers are not engaged at work. Getting employees to engage with the organization requires a large investment in energy, money and effort. At the end of the day, it’s a completely intimate, personal, and unpredictable personal decision and the investment might not get positive results if the company gets it all wrong (and many times, they do). Therefore, hiring people with a professional profile that not only fits the skill set but actually drive success becomes a tall order. 

I have studied and analyzed hundreds of professional and non-professional career histories and profiles, and can easily identify that “it” or set of “characteristics” that will drive success and business results for an organization. Here are some important traits that I recommend keeping in mind if you want to hire a highly successful individual:

1. Competitiveness

They are competitive with the “right” people. They want to win but they also understand that gains made by others are also their gains (even if it entails the competition at times). Their pride doesn't blind them and they don’t feel defeated if they lose a battle. Challenges push them and never hold them back.

They are great mentors and they are not afraid of sharing their knowledge. These are great team leaders who have been able to produce results for other organizations, especially monetary results. Ask the person during the interview about the impact of their performance on business results.

Related Article: Millennials In the Workplace: How Will They Affect Hiring?

2. See patterns where others see nothing

They are capable of seeing beyond the obvious and creatively finding ways of doing things that perhaps weren't thought of before. These are the type of people who have implemented new systems or have changed the way things were done in their former jobs.They are capable of seeing beyond the obvious and creatively finding ways of doing things that perhaps were thought of before. 

3. Knowledgeable

Highly successful people never improvise on the job. They can take on a challenge and learn details on the way, but they will never take on a challenge without having a clue of what needs to be done. They are very aware of the importance of quality. These are specialists who are technically savvy and have been trusted with complex implementation or change projects.

4. Reliable

They don’t lie about their skills and what they are capable of doing because they know that sooner, rather than later, things come to light and that credibility is key to their success. These are people who don’t lie in their resume or during interview.

Make sure to check not only their resume against their other public profiles such as blogs and their social media accounts to ensure you're getting the full picture (and noticing any inconsistencies).

Related Article: Master the Art of Hiring with These 5 Tips

5. Persistent

Successful people carry on even when things don’t work out. I see it every day with my job search clients. The ones that find jobs are not the most qualified but the ones that continue working even when rejected repeatedly. No matter how difficult, successful people don’t let circumstances get them down. These are people who show measurable successful results over the years.

6. Have vision

They know what they want out of their life and have a vision. That same vision is translated to the job at hand once hired. They want to be the best and they want to be rewarded for it. These people are not improvising success but are systematically looking for it. They are the ones that can clearly answer the question “where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”

7. High self-esteem

They know they are good at what they do and they are proud of it. They enjoy the fruits of success and don’t hesitate to share all the details of their stories with anyone that asks. They are self-confident and are good listeners. These are the people who won’t interrupt over and over to talk about themselves every time you make a comment during the interview.

Related Article: Who Are You Hiring? The Shocking Cost of Résumé Fraud

8. Aware of their limitations

They don’t know it all and will readily admit it. In fact, they deeply respect “experts” and seek their help whenever needed. No matter how many years of experience and education they have, they know how to tap the collective knowledge of teams and how to apply it. You can recognize this characteristic by asking them to tell you a time when they had to ask for help to complete a job.

9. Know the importance of serving others

They serve their team, their company and themselves! The way they understand their role is to help everybody get results, not stand in the way making things more complicated. Some people are more status oriented than others by nature and that is OK; don’t get me wrong, only that successful people are not constantly looking for recognition but for results. If the team wins they win.

This is a guide of the “extras” you can look for when hiring someone who will drive success to a key position in your organization.  It will be hard, though ideal, to find someone with all these characteristics.

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