When looking for new employees, finding candidates with relevant industry experience is often necessary. But let’s face it, there will often be many candidates with very similar credentials. Credentials are important, but not necessarily sufficient on their own, especially when hiring for a small business or start up. In those cases there are other traits that entrepreneurs should look for during the hiring process.
1 – A Proven Record of Adaptability
Some philosophers have defined intelligence as the ability to adapt to changing stimuli. This seems quite insightful and can often define whether an employee will be successful with a new company. Evidence of previous success in merging quickly into the day-to-day routines can demonstrate a candidate’s ability to confront diverse challenges in the workplace.
Adaptability will also be a sign that a candidate is capable of thinking outside of the box. Many people have tunnel vision when attempting to solve a difficult problem. Somebody who can think outside of the box will have the unique ability to draw from her experiences to find creative solutions.
2 – Exhibits Maturity
Many workplace cultures encourage a light-hearted environment where employees feel comfortable joking around with each other. However, there is a difference between joking with a few coworkers and being genuinely immature. An immature person might make crude jokes or would be unable to handle rejection (not a good attribute in sales, for examples). This could have a demoralizing effect on the office and harm the company’s brand.
Of course, maturity will exceed the ability to tell an appropriate joke. A mature employee is one who takes her career seriously. She is at the company because she is passionate about the vision and wants to contribute to it.
3 – Long Term Potential
Employee retention is an important attribute of any company. When interviewing candidates, entrepreneurs should focus on questions that might reveal whether they will be long-term assets to the company. A brief survey of job history might answer that question. While it is not necessarily a deal-breaker, more than a few short-lived jobs could indicate that a candidate struggles with commitment. But a prosperous career with a few recognition awards will speak volumes about her potential.
4 – Integrity
There are many company brands that have been tarnished by a rogue employee. On the other hand, plenty of companies have benefited from having an honest employee. Think of an honest mechanic who had a clear opportunity to scam a customer into paying for unnecessary repair work, but did not. That reflects integrity and makes the company look better. An employee who has integrity will also be willing to accept responsibility for her own mistakes rather than shifting the blame onto somebody else.
During the interview, perhaps ask questions that might assess whether that person has integrity. For instance, ask what she thinks the benefits are of having integrity in the workplace?
5 – How Do They Interact With Others?
During the interview process, don’t overlook how the candidate interacts with you. It’s natural that a candidate may be a little nervous, but beyond that pay attention to basic etiquette and the ability to have a conversation. This isn’t an assessment of whether she is an extrovert or an introvert, but rather a gauge of whether how well the candidate would fare as a member of a team. Employees who interact well with others can lift the spirits of the office and develop strong relationships with customers.
In summary, credentials are important. But they may not be that important. Traits such as integrity, maturity, and responsibility should be a focus as well.