6 Personality Traits You Should Look for When Hiring & One You Might Want to Think Twice About.

Qualifications and experience are important, but if you hire someone solely on these alone, you may end up with an employee who is intolerable or unreliable! When hiring staff, it’s important to remember to take into account personality traits and your company culture, to ensure the best fit for employee and employer alike.

Humble & Coachable

In a study performed by Baylor University, employers rated employees who showed honesty and humility significantly higher than others. Humility manifests itself as a willingness to be taught, and openness to being wrong. Rather than hiring someone who knows everything and cannot be taught, look for the candidate who is always looking for ways to improve and who values constructive criticism over praise.

How to uncover humility: Ask your candidate to reminisce about a situation which taught them more about themselves or gave them insight into their role.
Ask them to outline how they dealt with a difficult situation and relay what they would do differently now.

Inquisitive & Independent Learner

Employees that are constantly on the hunt for new ways to improve themselves will continue to do so when you hire them. This means you won’t have to hassle them to partake in optional training programs, and you can be certain that if they are given a task that is out of their comfort zone that they will rise to the challenge and most likely exceed expectation! Curiosity and elasticity will encourage innovation and creativity – people who are naturally curious are less likely to leave stones unturned or a problem unsolved.

How to reveal an inquisitive nature: Outline something you taught yourself/you learned about yourself recently?
What is a skill you’ve always wanted to master and why?

Positive & Motivated

Hiring employees that are self-motivated and have a positive attitude will automatically make your workplace a more enjoyable place to be. They will be the ones cheering others on when the going gets tough or coming up with new ideas when all seems lost. Especially in a small workplace, the ‘loudest’ mood will have an effect on everyone’s energy levels, so make sure you prioritise a positive, motivated attitude.
Candidates that demonstrate an ability to see the good in every situation, hold themselves accountable and exhibit ‘stickability’ when it comes to challenges in their career should be paid attention to!

How to ascertain a candidate’s motivation levels: Talk us through a challenging situation you encountered at work and how you approached it. What was the outcome? Do you think you made the right decisions?

Adaptable & Flexible

A less experienced employee who can adjust their approach or expectations depending on the situation is more valuable than a ritualistic, habit-driven employee with years of experience. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, ability to read a situation or change tack effectively will be useful for any employer, regardless of the area the employee works in. If your business is still in its growth phase, this is particularly important, as the business grows and roles within the company develop – it’s preferable to have employees who can adapt and develop in their shifting roles, rather than hiring new staff.

Assessing an applicants flexibility: “Tell me about a situation in which you had to work to a plan you disagreed with. Would you do anything differently looking back?”
“Can you recall a time where you had to work with a co-worker/client you clashed with? How did you handle it and what was the outcome?”
“Explain how you would approach a situation where your planned processes failed”

Trustworthy & Reliable

If you had to, would you entrust your employees to work unsupervised for long periods of time? Do you hire people who behave ethically? Hiring staff who are reliable will save you time and wages which could otherwise be wasted on staff who drag out tasks as long as possible to minimise the amount of effort required from them.

How do you know which applicant is honest and which one is stretching or bending the truth to suit their needs? You can ask as many questions as you can think of, but honesty is not a trait that can be proven in a stand-alone interview. Do your research, use each applicant’s provided references (and make sure they’re the people you need to talk to, not someone your applicant has ‘coached’ as a referee) and double check facts and qualifications. The last thing you want to do is hire someone because of their amazing track record, only to find that not only are they not as good as they claim to be, but they’re dishonest as well!

…and what about the one trait you might want to avoid?


“Well, to be honest, I’m a bit of a perfectionist” is something many candidates will trot out as a ‘flaw’ in a thinly veiled attempt to promote themselves. Whilst this may sound like a positive trait to have in an employee, and while the motivation to do your best is a desirable trait, it can become a serious stumbling block if not kept in check in the workplace. A desire to do your best in your work is healthy, but perfectionism can cost your business more in the long run. A perfectionist can take up to 20% longer to complete any given task, which will, in turn, cost 20% more.

A perfectionist may delay turning in work to be published or presented to a client, as they cave to the urge to tweak undetectable ‘flaws’ and will decrease efficiency in a process by spending excessive amounts of time on inconsequential changes to their work. Perfectionism can also be pride hiding inadequacy. An employee who knows their worth and their ability, and is upfront about their limits is far more valuable than one who hides their shortcomings under a ‘perfectionist’ label.