The Sales Development Blog

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5 Characteristics to Look for in New Hires

One of the reasons that top companies stay on top is that they hire cream-of-the-crop talent. In fact, they make it a priority. Highly successful companies know exactly what they want when searching for potential candidates, and it’s much more than broad descriptors like “multi-tasker” or “self-starter.” But today’s companies aren’t just looking for the most qualified candidates. In fact, 88 percent of companies now look for cultural fit over skills in their hires. So what are the employee characteristics that you should be looking for to land the candidate who can do a great job, fit in with the company atmosphere and culture, and has the attitude to succeed? Following are five traits that will hopefully lead to the employee with all the right stuff:

1. Passion and a positive, can-do attitude
Job satisfaction, happiness, and productivity go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the others. Employees excel when they are passionate about their work and feel they serve a purpose. Avoid candidates who exude a “that’s-not-in-my-job-description” vibe during the interview process, even if they appear to have the qualifications or experience you are seeking. Molding a less qualified candidate with the right attitude is easier than motivating an unenthusiastic but experienced candidate. Your time is better spent mentoring, training, and polishing the former.

2. Flexibility and adaptability
Operating in a digital era means that business practices and processes can change in an instant. No matter your industry, it’s very unlikely that your business won’t change, and employees absolutely must know how to adapt in order for your business to survive. When hiring, look for people who demonstrate that they can overcome challenges and see possibilities without frustration. Those are the kinds of employees who won’t get overwhelmed when asked to adopt a new business practice or adjust to a change in their work environment. You can screen for these types of characteristics by asking interview questions that will illuminate attitudes about embracing change, such as:

  • Give me an example of something you recently learned about yourself and explain how it has affected you. (Self awareness and insight are part of maturity and growth, both personally and professionally.)
  • Describe a situation where you worked hard on something and then had your priorities change mid-stream. How did it make you feel? How did you react?
  • Do you feel you’ve ever had to adapt your work style to fit the needs of others? How so?

Candidates who speak with enthusiasm about transitioning into new roles, duties, or overcoming the challenge of changing standards will likely be the ones who can quickly make an impact once they join your team. And those who admit to a philosophy of lifelong learning add value over the span of their tenure.

3. Openness to taking risks
Growth opportunities require risk, and more risk means more reward. Find people who live and breathe that mantra. After all, risk-taking and innovation are closely related. Risk takers are often the kind of employees who are not content to simply go through the motions. Instead, they naturally look for ways to make business processes more efficient and effective, which positively impacts your bottom line. Risk takers are problem solvers, too. They make progress by making quick decisions and reach their goals faster than their more timid counterparts. Ask candidates to describe a risk that turned out successfully to get a sense of their ability to effect positive change.

4. Excels at communication and collaboration
It sounds elementary, but one of the best indicators of success is a very simple one: how well can you communicate? Teams work better together when all members can exchange thoughts and ideas effectively and efficiently. While you’re searching for the next “team player,” look for a willingness to collaborate. It’s not only important internally, but externally as well. Your employees are the face of your company, so professionalism is key when it comes to interacting with customers and clients via email, phone, or in face-to-face meetings. Good communicators create opportunities while bad communicators can destroy them.

5. Thinks like an owner
You don’t have to be fast-tracked to CEO to have the company’s best interests at heart. Some employees just get it – they see the bigger picture and are interested in contributing to it in a meaningful way. They understand the business and understand that the company’s success translates into opportunity and personal professional success. Employees who think like an owner not only take ownership of their roles, but they take ownership of the company. Their competitive edge contributes to the overall success of your business and sets a great example for the rest of your employees.

Building a top-tier team is no small feat. It requires a lot of effort, a detailed strategy, and a little bit of luck discovering those perfect candidates. Before your next candidate search, pinpoint the employee characteristics that reflect the unique needs of your business. The up-front work is worth it – it will save you and your company a lot of work in the long term while bringing success right along with it.

For more tips on inside sales and building your team, read more of our memoryBlue blog.

Since cofounding memoryBlue in 2002, Chris has helped provide inside sales resources to more than 150 high tech companies, and has hired, placed, or evaluated hundreds of high tech sales professionals. Chris spearheads the memoryBlue recruiting service, and is passionate about developing sales talent that generates results.

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