5 Qualities of a Good Employee (and How to Spot Them)

Adding the right member to your team is critical—especially for small business owners with a tight-knit staff. Not only can the wrong hire disturb a delicate work environment, but they can also affect your business success.

Next time you go through a round of hiring, it’s critical that you look for the identifying qualities of a good employee. Having a good sense for what types of qualities that you desire will make your time much more productive as you scour job posting sites, review resumes, and conduct interview panels.

Your future hires are the face of your small business.  They will potentially be on the front lines affecting your customer’s experience and—when chosen correctly—will be some of your most powerful assets. However, making the wrong hire will hurt productivity and team cohesion.  And, likely force you to spend money to hire someone else, a cost estimated at $4,129 by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Not sure which qualities to prioritize in your applicants? Here are the top five qualities of a good employee that you should be on the lookout for during your hiring process.

top qualities of an employee

Number 1. Strong Work Ethic

According to CareerBuilder, 73 percent of hiring managers look for candidates with a strong work ethic.

hiring managers value candidates with a good work ethic

What’s a strong work ethic? A set of values that show your employee is driven, motivated, and dependable. You’re looking for someone who inherently will go the extra mile in their determination to succeed, thus bettering the chance of your business’s success.  

These applicants should set high aspirations for themselves and respond well to stretch goals.

Interview questions to help you identify this quality in a good employee:
  • “Give two examples of what you did in previous jobs that demonstrates your willingness to work hard.”
  • “Describe a situation where you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.”

Number 2. A Team Player

Collaboration is crucial and you need to look for a hire who will gel seamlessly with your existing staff—especially if your business is small. 

To maintain a positive work environment, you need to make sure that your candidate meshes well with the rest of the team. Workplace tension caused by a new hire is something to avoid because it can possibly hurt morale, damage culture, and occupy your limited time.  

Qualities in good employees who embrace teamwork include the willingness to lend a helping hand, even if it falls outside of their own responsibilities, as well as an attitude that promotes the benefit of others, not just themselves. Try to determine whether they’d be working to grow your company or just to enhance their own personal career growth.

Interview questions to help you identify this quality in a good employee:
  • “Tell me about a time you solved a conflict or disagreement between yourself and a former colleague.”
  • “Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you remedy the situation?”

Number 3. A Positive, Can-Do Attitude

According to CareerBuilder, 72 percent of hiring managers look for positive employees since happy employees are reported to be 12 percent more productive. On top of that, positivity is a good quality in an employee simply due to the desirable effect it has on the work culture and environment.

happy employees can often be more productive

You’re looking for a candidate that displays a willingness to take on new tasks and an eagerness to find room for advancement. A good hire should be able to take on challenges with a smile.

Interview questions to help you identify this quality in a good employee:
  • “Tell me about a work-related challenge you have faced. How did you handle it?”
  • “How do you react when asked to do a task beyond your current capabilities?”

Number 4. Self-Motivated

Being a positive team player is important, but self-motivation is also a standout quality in a good employee. Being self-motivated means they require less supervision and oversight while working. They are autonomous, take initiative, and get tasks accomplished with little direction.

Be sure to list this soft skill on your job postings when looking for applicants. Constant supervision is not something that a small business manager or owner can afford to do for very long.  So be sure to emphasize this quality in job descriptions is important.

Interview questions to help you identify this quality in a good employee:
  • “Tell me about a time you worked without close supervision. What was the result?”
  • “When you have a lot of work to do, how do you prioritize in order to get it all done on time? Give an example.”

Number 5. Integrity

When you glance at a candidate’s resume, you are generally appraising if the candidate appears to be a fit for your job based on the skills and accomplishments that they’ve listed.   However, one cannot make a judgment on an important intangible such as integrity.  Having integrity and good character means that they’re able and willing to take responsibility for their mistakes as well as receive constructive criticism. Someone unreceptive to criticism or unwilling to acknowledge when they need help could prove difficult to manage later on or dishonest.

Integrity is a critical quality in a good employee considering the amount of money business owners lose due to fraud. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report that the average company loses 5% of revenue each year due to fraud, with the median number dialing in at $145,000.

annual company monetary losses for fraud are notable

That’s no small number.  And, it could be potentially devastate a small company’s ability to survive or substantially damage the bottom line. Finding someone whose hands you can trust your business with is paramount.

Interview questions to help you identify this quality in a good employee:
  • Ask resume-specific questions that can fill in gaps or verify a candidate’s records.
  • “Tell me about a time when you experienced a loss for doing the right thing in a work setting. How did you react to this loss?“

The Take Away

A successful business starts with great employees who work well alone and on a team, ultimately to attract and retain your customers. Learning how to spot important qualities that you value in your job candidates is a wise move for an employer.  And it can help guide your hiring process in so far as appraising both hard and soft skills that are needed.

If you want to make sure you’re increasing your chance of hiring a quality candidate, be sure to utilize pre-employment screening services from ShareAble for Hires. Our online background check and credit check for employment can help to give you reports and information that you need when making a final hiring decision.

Screen your potential employee all online, anywhere. FCRA approved reports are delivered within minutes so you can hire now. 

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