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What Makes A Good Employee? What To Look For During The Hiring Process

An illustration showing what makes a good employeeAn illustration showing what makes a good employee
min read
August 21, 2023

When you’re adding people to your team, you want each of your new hires to add to your organization, succeed in their role, and transition into a successful employee.

But what, exactly, does that look like? What employee characteristics should you be looking for during the hiring process? 

Or, in other words, what makes a good employee?

Here is a list of qualities you should look for to make sure that the people you hire are ultimately the kind of people that will elevate your team, your company culture, and your organization as a whole:

A good employee is reliable

When you hire an employee, you need to trust that they’ll show up to work each day present, focused, and ready to get the job done.

That’s why reliability is such an important characteristic to look for in an employee. Even if an employee is qualified, talented, and easy to be around, if they’re not reliable, they’re not going to be successful in their role—and their lack of reliability can ultimately hurt your small business in the form of tardiness, absenteeism, and other issues.

A good employee is a team player

Virtually any role you’re hiring for in your small business will require your employee to interact with other people. And if you want that employee to succeed, they need to be able to work well with those other people.

When you’re hiring someone new, you want to make sure they’re a team player and are willing to collaborate with the other people on their team, including leadership, managers, and, if you’re hiring for a management role, their direct reports. If other employees aren’t able to share ideas, resources, or tasks with your new hire, the rest of the team isn’t going to be as productive or successful as they could be—and your entire organization will suffer as a result.

A good employee has a positive attitude

Every employee you hire has an impact on your work environment. Their words, actions, and overall attitude will influence your other employees—so whenever you’re hiring someone new, you want to look for someone who will have a positive influence instead of a negative one.

Taking a positive approach to work can have a ripple effect, and optimistic employees can act as a motivator to the rest of your team. But the flip side is also true, and if you hire someone with a negative attitude, that negativity can drag the rest of your team down—so, when you’re hiring, you are going to want to make positivity a priority.

A good employee is honest

Trust is an integral part of leading a team. Your employees are an extension of your small business, and you need to trust they’re doing their job, doing the right thing, and representing your business well.

That’s why you need honest employees. When you can trust your employee to be honest with you, your customers, and the rest of your team, it eliminates a huge number of hurdles in the employee/employer relationship. (For example, if you know your employee is honest, you’ll feel much more comfortable giving them access to your client information or leaving them alone in the office to lock up if you have to leave early.) 

Honest employees are also typically the kind of people who will own up to their mistakes, which makes it easier for them to learn and grow within their roles.

A good employee is driven

You don’t want to hire quiet quitters or employees that are going to clock in, do the bare minimum they need to do to get by, and then leave. Instead, you want to hire ambitious employees that are hungry, driven, and committed to doing what it takes to get the job done.

Hiring driven employees is a win-win; when they apply that drive to their role within your organization, they’re not only working towards their own career goals; they’re also working towards your company goals. And the more ambitious, driven employees you have on your team, the better you’ll be able to hit those company-wide goals—and the more successful your organization will be as a result.

A good employee is qualified

Soft skills (like emotional intelligence, communication skills, and a positive attitude) are extremely important when you’re hiring a new employee. But so is hiring someone with the right skill sets for the job.

In order for a new hire to fall under the “good employee” umbrella, they need to be qualified for the role they’re being hired for. While you don’t necessarily need an employee to tick off every box in the job description, they should have the background, skills, experience, and education necessary to perform the core responsibilities of the job. (So, for example, if you’re hiring a plumber, they should have plumbing experience. If you’re hiring a software engineer, they should know how to code.)

A good employee has a strong work ethic

Some people might have the exact background you’re looking for—but if they don’t have a strong work ethic, they’re probably not going to be successful in the role.

If you want your organization to thrive, you need to hire employees who are willing to go the extra mile to get things done. You need to build a team that isn’t afraid of hard work and is committed to doing their best on tasks big and small. You need to know that your employees are going to show up to work every day ready to do their best.

And that means hiring employees with a strong work ethic.

Employees with a strong work ethic are committed to their job; they’re committed to quality, efficiency, and productivity—and when you hire those types of people for your team, their work ethic can elevate the efficiency, productivity, and quality level of your organization overall.

Get out there and hire the best employees for your small business

There are very few things that impact the success of your business more than the people you hire. And now that you know the most important qualities to look for in your employees, you have everything you need to hire the best employees—and take your business to the next level in the process.

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