The hiring process is often stressful, time-consuming and expensive. While the figures vary depending on the size of your business and the industry you’re in, Glassdoor has found that the average U.S. employer spends about $4,000 and 24 days to hire a new worker.
What’s more, according to a poll conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, 47 percent of small businesses reported that they couldn’t find qualified applicants for their open positions. That means if you had to settle on an applicant, and he turned out not to be the right fit, you’d have to start the hiring process all over again. That means more time and money down the drain.
However, if you know the traits that help your business thrive, the hiring process becomes easier and less expensive–both in terms of time and finances. But what should you look for in potential hires? Here are six traits of great teammates that you should keep an eye out for.
1. Strong communication skills
After a lengthy search, you’re down to two final candidates. Both have the hard skills you’re looking for. You’re convinced that they both have the potential to be successful in the position. How do you make a determination? If one of the candidates possesses strong communication skills–such as verbal and written skills, listening skills, body language and eye contact–you have your answer.
Not only does this separate the candidate from the other applicant, but it’s also often the leading skill employers are looking for in new hires. Good communicators are able to clearly explain directions, expectations and ideas. By actively listening to others, they comprehend what’s being asked of them so people don’t waste valuable time repeating themselves. It’s also a sign of respect–the person is interested in what others have to say, which builds rapport with colleagues and customers. Two-way communication can become a real thing.
2. Enthusiasm and passion
If you want to attract and retain top talent, you have to pay employees a decent salary. At the same time, you don’t want a team working for you that’s simply there to collect a paycheck. Your people should be true supporters of the products or services you provide–and genuinely interested in creating a great experience.
When a candidate is enthusiastic and passionate about working for you, she’s more likely to stay with your organization. Because she loves what she does, absenteeism–which harms productivity and costs around $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees–isn’t a concern. She’s also motivated to keep delivering high-quality work on a consistent basis. She’s constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow so she can become an expert.
Another advantage of enthusiastic employees is that they can become your business’s biggest advocates. They’re more than willing to tell others how awesome your business is, which can improve cash flow and help attract future talent.
3. A proactive approach
Micromanaging employees won’t motivate them. It’s also a waste of your time: You should be focused on managing your team, not the tasks they’re working on.
How can you effectively motivate your team members? By encouraging ownership. Allow them to work however they please as long as they get their work done. As a result, they’ll be happier, more engaged and less likely to leave. As Gallup has shown us, engagement has a lot to do with turnover.
Of course, autonomy only works if you trust your teammates and are certain that they’re capable of holding themselves accountable. You can determine whether they’re proactive during the interview process by asking about their previous accomplishments and inquiring about new processes or strategies they’ve implemented to address outdated or ineffective systems.
As an added bonus, asking these questions reveals whether the candidate is ambitious, can think independently and likes to solve problems.
4. Emotional intelligence
According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence, you should be on the lookout for candidates who are self-aware, empathetic and motivated. Your business’s growth is much more likely to be fueled by employees who possess people skills and can regulate their emotions.
Warren Buffett, in a speech at the University of Florida, said, “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.” The Oracle of Omaha was spot-on with this statement.
Integrity at work means people are reliable, trustworthy and respectful of company policies and teammates. It also demonstrates humility–they take responsibility for both their accomplishments and their failures. More importantly, it means they’ll never compromise your organization’s values or mission.
An effective leader should be able to train anyone to do any job, as well as be able to coach and encourage people to develop new skills. No amount of training, however, can change an employee’s personality.
When hiring, you should be on the lookout for talented individuals who are diverse, yet likely to fit in with your company’s culture. This provides opportunities for your team to gather fresh perspectives while maintaining a healthy, positive and collaborative work environment.
No matter how amazing an applicant’s résumé, experience and first impression may be, they’re pretty irrelevant if the person doesn’t have these six traits. If you go ahead and hire this person, he may not have the passion, drive or people skills to help him thrive at your company. Chances are high that you’ll have to start your search again–and waste even more time and money.
What qualities do you look for?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.