What to Look for in a Good Employee

Hiring good employees is essential to any business.

While it is extremely important that the candidate you hire fulfill the necessary skills needed to be successful according to your job description, an employer must also consider the soft skills necessary to ensure compatibility.* Ask yourself: does this position require a candidate to work on a team? Does it require initiative? Does the role have a strict timeline?

An employer must consider the soft skills necessary to ensure compatibility

Here are some skills every employer should look for, regardless of the position:

Strong Work Ethic

Employees who have a strong work ethic take pride in their role, and show they are able to produce results that benefit the business. These employees demonstrate that they can be trusted to complete their tasks without guidance and represent the company well.

Good Communication Skills

Having employees who can communicate timely and effectively will always benefit any business. Employees who are able to not only talk, but also listen, are paramount in ensuring instruction for employees is clear, ask questions when needed, and help the business ensure things are being done correctly.

Time Management

Being an employee who can manage their time well ensures things are done smarter, not harder. Employees with good time management skills are usually organized, use applications or planners that assist them, and set goals for themselves, all of which are skills an employer should be looking for that can benefit the business in the long run.

Critical Thinking

Employees who are able to make logical decisions within the business are usually effective and efficient. These employees can identify biases and get past them to produce the most logical outcome, which is usually the most cost-effective.


Unforeseen things happen in businesses – an employee quits, a machine becomes inoperable, deadlines change, or budgets are cut. Employees who are adaptable are able to pivot roles and adjust to new conditions.

Stress Management

All roles have a degree of stress associated with it, some more than others. If this role has difficult deadlines or requires an employee to juggle multiple projects at once, you want to have an employee who can manage their stress well and not let it affect their performance. Employees who are able to do this usually have a positive attitude, set goals, are organized, and employ self-improvement techniques.


Having trust and confidence in your work place is essential to your business. Employees with integrity are honest, do not steal or cheat, and treat other employees with respect. You can rely on employees with integrity to do the right thing.

Team Player

Many roles require employees to work with other employees, and making sure your hire has good people skills, someone who is able to communicate, collaborate, and treat others with respect, will work well on team.

*Gallup’s meta-analysis, companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable.

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Hiring Mistakes to Avoid Now

Hiring the wrong employee for a job can not only diminish your business’s reputation, but can also cost you a significant amount of money.

Costs that go into hiring an employee that may not ultimately fit the bill includes:

  • money spent on job listings
  • talent searches
  • screening process
  • time it takes to conduct an interview
  • job on-boarding
  • time and effort in training

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire can cost at least 30 percent of the employee’s first year earnings.

Other drawbacks of a bad hire is loss of motivation of fellow employees, which can directly affect the productivity of your workers, costing your business even more money.


Here are three ways you can guarantee you are hiring the right worker.

1. Improve Your Interview Process

How a candidate answers your questions during an interview can tell you everything you need to know about a potential employee. Prepare questions that tell you if the candidate has adequate skills and experience for the role you are looking to fill. Better yet, give candidates scenarios that may occur on a day to day basis in the job and see how they would respond in a given situation. Being told a candidate has a certain skill set and demonstrating those skills on the spot, will better reveal their potential to succeed.


Ensure that a current employee who has the most experience in that particular sector of the business is included in the interview process. Having a fellow employee who understands the unfilled role can weed out any potential candidates that would have seemed fine to the hiring manager.

2. Refine the Job Description

The start to any hire is making sure there is a job posting advertised. This job posting should have a description that accurately conveys the details of the role. There should be a clear skill set needed in order to fulfill the role, and details of duties they may have on a day-to-day basis, including things that may be added over time. If there is required experience needed for the role, make it clear that only candidates with such experience will receive interviews. This will ensure that you are not wasting time with potential applicants as it will deter potential candidates from wasting their time as well.


Give candidates a short summary of the business, its values, and goals. This will likely help the qualified candidates pursue the position, and can be a great interview question to see if they can tell you why they want to work for your business specifically. If the employees and employers ‘why’ can connect, you are likely hiring the right candidate.

3. Prioritize Pre-Employment Tests and Employee Onboarding

Do not skimp on background checks, calling references, drug screenings, confirming employment eligibility and skill assessments. Ensuring that these five tasks are completed before offering the job to a candidate will save you time and money overall. If a potential employee has a criminal history or fails a drug test, you immediately know the candidate has not been honest with their past, which can tell you a lot about how their future performance will be (rephrase later.)

Having candidate’s complete skill assessments prior to hiring lets you know if they have the necessary skills needed to be successful. Once your candidate checks all of these boxes, it is time to hire. But guaranteeing your employee’s success does not stop there. It is essential for new hires to feel they can communicate any questions, comments, or concerns. Staying in touch for the next several weeks, or even setting a quantifiable goal for them to achieve by a certain date will let you know sooner rather than later if they are the right fit.

It is also important that they are given the correct tools to succeed, whether it be the right workspace, safety equipment, or company handbook.

Lastly, helping your employee feel welcome and part of the team will increase comfortability and connection, therefore increasing happiness and productivity. Try hosting a meet and greet with new employees over coffee and donuts to help facilitate this process.


These essential five steps should be taken care of by your local staffing agency: background checks, calling references, drug screenings, confirming employment eligibility and skill assessments which can save you a lot of time and money in the future.

To learn more on why it is important to confirm your employment eligibility (link) and how to do it, please click here.

While these strategies, tests, and processes may incur costs for your business, you will actually be saving more time, money, and productivity had you hired the right, qualified candidate for the job.