14 Non-Negotiable Traits Business Leaders Look for in New Hires

Job interview by panel

Hiring is one of the most difficult ongoing tasks a business faces. Not only do managers have to evaluate a candidate’s hard skills, but they also need to look for the right soft skills and personality traits to ensure a new employee will be a cultural fit.

We asked 14 members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following questions to uncover some of those essential qualities:

Q. What’s a nonnegotiable trait every new hire must possess? Why is it critical to your business?

1. Shared core values

Every new hire, regardless of seniority, must possess our company’s core values. It is important for the company’s health that the employees work every day as a team and appreciate each other, to some extent. For successful collaborative efforts and a low turnover rate, it is imperative that core values align. —Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

2. Politeness

My team is filled with polite people—we won’t have it otherwise. To be successful, we must work together, respect one another, and get along great. Any new hire must pass the “nice test.” It’s a simple thing, but it’s important. —Colbey PfundLFNT Distribution


3. Attention to detail

We have found detail-oriented people have a natural personality type that makes them a) produce very high quality work, b) need very little oversight, and c) do things right and that far exceed our expectations on the first try. These three things are priceless in my opinion, and make for a worry- and headache-free hire. —Justin FaermanConscious Lifestyle Magazine

4. The ability to work with the existing team

Although my team is rather small, we’re like family, so it’s critical that any new hire can work and get along with others in the company. If a potential new hire doesn’t like working in a team or can’t take feedback from a team member, then they will not last in any of my businesses. —Kristin MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC

5. Ownership of work

Taking initiative and being able to problem solve without a lot of hand-holding is an employee who is an asset to any business. A person like this realizes that tough decisions need to be made at inopportune times with little advisement from superiors. This type of person will always give their best because they know they will need to take responsibility for their decisions and the results. —Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

6. Self-awareness

Every new hire must know themselves well—what they like and don’t like, what motivates them, what challenges them. They cannot be 100% satisfied with where they are at. Given what they know about themselves, what are they working to improve on? To win as a business, we must continuously improve. If the people working here already do that in their own lives, they will bring that same energy to work. —Matthew BernardDarex LLC

7. Adaptability

In a fast-growing company, it is important that all of our team members know how to quickly grow and adapt. As we hire new staff members, update our branding, improve our products, and optimize our marketing, there is a lot of change. Every new hire needs to be able to adapt accordingly, to ensure they’re still able to perform in the new environment. —Firas KittanehAmerisleep

8. The desire to learn

Businesses grow. Employees and the value they are able and willing to bring to a company should grow, too. If you’re looking to make an investment in someone, you need to know they are dedicated to learning and improving. —Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

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