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The 8 Top Traits All New Hires Should Have

The 8 Top Traits All New Hires Should Have
In the world of HR we are always ruminating on the skills v's fit tension when hiring new staff for organisations. Commonly these days, the cultural and team fit far outweighs the skills requirements, but obviously new hires still need to have the fundamental and foundational skills to get the job done otherwise what's the point in hiring anyone? In saying that, my advice to business owners, leaders and managers over and over again is this: you can hire the most technically competent and brilliant employee the market has to offer but if their values don't align with those of the business, they ultimately won't be a great fit and they won't last meaning any benefits you gained by having their brilliance in your business will be eroded by the lack of alignment and fit, under engagement and ultimately the turnover of the role.

So if fit is going to trump raw skills, and ultimately you will hire someone who fits into your team every time, provided they have the core skill base required for the role, what other traits should you be looking for to make sure a new hire is a great addition to your team?

Whilst assessing team fit often comes down to gut feel, team dynamics and 'personality' there are some critical traits that you as the employer want to assess any new hire for. These traits form the basis of a good work ethic, and appropriate motivation towards the role, without which the new hire will almost certainly not be a long term fixture within your business.

1) Values Alignment: Unlike the question of 'will they get along with everyone' which often comes down to more of a gut feel or intuitive decision, valued alignment is something you can assess and measure throughout the screening and interview process. If their personal, intrinsic and core values are at complete odds with your values, and the values of your business, then mark my words this is the sort of employee who you'll be up at night stressed about. Even if they may seem like a great team fit on the surface, a values mis match is a fast track to staff turnover, and in a worst case scenario a toxic team member who undermines the engagement of the entire team.

2) Flexibility: No matter the size of the company or how structured the role may be, from time to time employees will be asked to do something which is outside the scope of their role. We have all been in situations where someone has been reluctant to, or even refused to complete a task because it's not part of their job and it's frustrating for you as a manager and for the rest of the team. Determine how flexible they are at interview to ensure you avoid having someone like this in your team.

3) Reliability: Of course we want our staff to be early to work every day, never have a sick day and stay back whenever we need them. This however is a little unrealistic. When assessing reliability what you want to find out is overall, how reliable were they? And the best way of doing this is via reference checks. Ask the referees:
- How many days / year did they have off sick?
- How often were they running late for work? When they were how did they notify you?
- If you needed them to work back, how did they react?
- If there was a major challenge and the whole team needed to be part of the solution, even if it meant working outside of their scope, would they be there to get the problem solved or leave it to others?

4) Honesty: If staff aren't honest with you will you ever trust them? Do you want someone you can't trust in your team? Obviously not, so how do you assess honesty and how honest is too honest? Structure your interview questions to invoke an honest response from your applicants and see how honest they are. You don't necessarily want a 'warts and all' story, look for honesty with a level of respect, and appropriate thought process. For example, you might ask your applicant "tell me what you liked least about your last employer"?" or "which of all of your previous managers do you feel was the weakest leader and why". Questions like this force an honest response, but also allow you to assess how likely they are to give 'too much' will they speak derogatively or negatively about a previous employer or manager, or will they use appropriate caution and give honest but measured feedback? Which would you want them providing to their next employer about you?

5) Adaptability: In modern workplaces where things change daily, the ability to adapt to change is crucial in all employees. Even in the most stable roles, where repetition is a key hallmark of the role, the environment around the employee can change quickly. Changes in technology, changes in work location, changes in team and changes in business direction have all been key features of all organisations, especially throughout 2020 so how quickly your team and individual employees are able to adapt is critical to the consistency of your business performance.

6) Coachability: The willingness to listen, take on feedback, and most importantly learn are traits you absolutely want in any new employee, no matter their position or seniority. Team members at any level in the business who are not willing to be coached, can not grow and improve. They can not see their strengths and weaknesses for what they are and will become stagnant and problematic in a dynamic workplace. Tied up with this trait is the ability for someone to learn new skills, tasks, process, systems and products. The ability and willingness to learn is a critical trait for every individual you employ.

7) Loyalty: When we talk loyalty we are not talking about the person spending the rest of their career with you. In fact in the current workplace this is both unrealistic and in some cases undesirable. When we discuss loyalty as an important trait, we are really talking about how loyal they are to the brand, the business, the role, the company and the team during the time they are employed with you. So are they likely to promote the business in a positive light when they are out with friends, will they spend half the work day focusing on non-core work activities, will they speak more highly of a competitor's product or yours? Again past behaviour predicts future behaviour, so ask appropriate interview and reference check questions to assess this.

8) Motivation: By this we mean are they motivated towards this position and why? Understanding the candidates motivation to change jobs, secure a new role and progress their career in any specific direction is imperative. Why? Well if your role doesn't tie in with their underlying motivations, they will not be a long tern hire, and will treat your role as nothing more than a stop gap or stepping stone. Asking appropriate questions at interview surrounding this is vital.


By assessing core traits such as these, you will ensure that at the base level the new hire has the work ethic you are looking for. Combining this with your assessments surrounding their fit for your team, their experience and skills for the role, and you increase your chances of a successful hire.


An Invitation
If you'd like to connect with other business owners, leaders and managers in a group focused on all things HR, people and team management we'd love for you to join us over on our free Facebook Group HR Support for Australian Businesses - www.facebook.com/groups/hrsupportaustralia

Author: Kristy-Lee Billett
About: Kristy-Lee has worked in the field of HR and recruitment since 1999. She holds undergraduate qualifications in Psychology, a Masters in Human Resource Management, is an Professional Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.
Connect via: LinkedIn

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