What to Look For in a Hire

“Time spent on hiring is time well-spent.”
–Robert Half

A growing business needs team members. Finding the right ones is essential in scaling a company and creating a vibrant culture. Every entrepreneur has made a bad hiring decision at some point or another. When that happens, it’s extremely costly to replace existing workers and train new ones. It’s vital to place a premium on developing a hiring process that allows you to select worthy candidates who will excel in their roles.

A good hiring system involves many factors. You have to cast a wide net in order to attract the largest number of candidates, ensure the recruitment process presents your company as a place where top talent would want to work, and perhaps most importantly, identify the skills and characteristics that will allow you to choose the right people. Let’s take a look at some of the most important qualities a candidate can possess that can make a positive contribution to your business.


Anyone you’re looking at hiring should, of course, be able to do the job they’re applying for. If you’re not absolutely certain that a potential hire will be able to pull their weight, every other consideration becomes moot. A chef could be the sweetest, most driven person in the world, but that’s all for naught if they can’t cook well. An unskilled hire becomes an anchor around the neck of their coworkers, which will sow seeds of discontent in a hurry.

How refined a candidate’s skills need to be will depend on the nature of their position. Roles that require specialized talent, like graphic design or dentistry, should be filled with folks who are trained before they arrive on day one. You’ll still need to train them on the ins and outs of your company, but you simply cannot afford to teach employees in these positions the fundamentals of their job. For less specialized roles, you can hire based on soft skill. If somebody is friendly and organized, they have a chance to succeed as an office administrator even if they’ve never answered phones professionally.


“Employees who actively target the places they want to work will bring a passion to the job far beyond those simply interested in collecting a paycheck,” says Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas. A candidate shouldn’t just be looking for any job; they should be enthusiastically pursuing a job with you.

Gauging a candidate’s level of enthusiasm should be a central component of your hiring process. Does the candidate know about your products or services? Do they seem excited just to be in your office? In this regard, sometimes the questions they ask you during an interview are more important than the questions you ask them. After all, anyone serious about working somewhere is going to be curious about what that place is like.

Long-Term Prospects

A recent Gallup poll found that one-fifth of millennials have changed jobs within the past year, more than three times the percentage of nonmillennial workers. This statistic demonstrates the importance of inquiring about a candidate’s long-term aspirations. It also shows how important it is to provide advancement opportunities for your staff members.

Employees will eventually leave your company, and you’ll have to replace them. That’s just a fact of life. How often you need to do so, however, depends on how well you hire.

Culture Fit

Every employee takes part in and contributes to your company culture, but hiring for culture fit alone can be a dangerous game. A good culture fit is not somebody who you think will be your friend and want to go for a drink after work. Too many business owners assume a perfect company culture is one where everyone wants to hang out all the time. That’s great, but what really matters is whether a candidate will enjoy working at your company and whether they reflect your core values.

The best workplaces allow for a diversity of attitude and temperament, so don’t close yourself off looking for a certain type of personality. Instead, focus on assessing whether somebody can communicate well and get along with others. If they can do that, who cares where they spend their nights and weekends?