“Must-Haves” for Employees: What to Look for When Hiring

I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’d make a terrible accountant. If you wanted to hire me for that role, I’d urge you to do a pre-hire assessment, which will tell you, “This lady won’t be happy! She doesn’t pay attention to detail and will go crazy if she has to work with numbers all day.” There are no “best” behavioral styles – but there are those that align with the needs of the job. The best style is the one that suits the role. If candidates don’t own them, they’re not going to be a great fit.

Are There Any Universal Must-Haves?

Sure, there are always competencies that stand out, regardless of the level of the employee or the specific role. These include:

  • Teamwork. This is vital in the team-oriented workplace culture that has become ingrained in our society.
  • Problem-solving. Never goes out of style!
  • Interpersonal skills. No matter what the job, you have to be able to communicate effectively with people, whether clients, customers, supervisors, direct-reports, or teammates.
  • Personal accountability. Another classic: if employees can’t hold their own feet to the fire, they’re not going to deliver the results you need.

Key competencies become more specific as you drill down into each role. Motivators and values begin to play an important role a well, and the “best” here, again, depends on what the job needs. It also depends on what the individual is looking for and what resonates with them. We all have six motivators within us:

  • Theoretical (accumulating knowledge and facts).
  • Utilitarian (using resources to maximize return on all investments).
  • Aesthetic (experiencing variety, beauty, harmony, and balance).
  • Social (helping people and resolving conflicts).
  • Individualistic (gaining power and promotions, leading others).
  • Traditional (following a system that provides the foundation for all decisions).

At any point in life, some are going to rise to the top, while others will sink down. Salespeople, for instance, are often individualistic and utilitarian. Those are motivators that drive them to excel in their jobs. Rather than “must-have” motivators, values, or competencies, though, look at whether a prospective employee’s behavioral style and motivators gel with the role you’re asking them to take on in the organization. You’ll get a better fit – which leads to better results.

By “better fit,” I mean both in terms of fit with the job and fit with the organizational culture. For example, if you run a cutting-edge company that is mandated to stay innovative, does it make sense to hire people with a traditional mindset? Or those who do not enjoy fast-paced, theoretical, blue ocean thinking?

You might hire someone with the right technical skills but who has competencies, motivators, and values that don’t mesh. If that’s the case, they probably won’t stay long. It’s worth the time to hire right, from the beginning bychoosing people who meet your benchmark.

To hire the best people, you have to get very clear on what you’re looking for, what the job requires, and what individual candidates bring to the table. If you don’t, you might just hire me as your accountant.