20 Qualities of a Good Employee (and How to Uncover Them)

Hiring the right employees has a major impact on the efficacy of your overall organization. With the best people on board, you’ll see higher productivity and a strong company culture. Taking the time to understand a candidate’s qualities can help you select the best employees for the job. Learn why it’s important to hire good employees, review the top 20 qualities of a good employee and understand how to uncover a candidate’s qualities before making a hiring decision. 


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Why is it important to hire good employees?

Putting the right people in the right positions can make all the difference in the day-to-day operations of your business and its long-term success. Consider these reasons for taking the time to hire good employees: 

  • Saves time: For managerial staff in particular, putting an employee with good qualities in the right role saves them valuable time on oversight and counseling. 
  • Promotes positive morale: Employees with good qualities help keep the workplace positive and promote an overall feeling of high workplace morale. 
  • Increases productivity: Employees with the right qualities for the position will likely be more productive than employees who don’t have the same qualities. 
  • Reduces turnover: Selecting employees with good qualities that match the company’s goals, values and mission are less likely to leave their job. 
  • Keeps customers happy: Employees with good qualities who enjoy and excel at their jobs will have positive and effective interactions with customers. 

Related: How to Make Good Decisions: A Guide for Managers


20 qualities of a good employee

Here is a list of 20 positive traits, arranged in alphabetical order, to consider and look for when hiring a new employee:


1. Ambitious

Ambitious employees want to do well in their positions and continue to develop their careers. They’re often willing to take on challenging assignments and learn new things. Ambitious people often set high goals for themselves and work hard to achieve them. 


2. Autonomous

Ideally, your employees should have the ability to work independently the majority of the time. Autonomy is an excellent quality for employees in positions that naturally require little oversight. Knowing you can trust your team to do their assigned work without the need to check in saves you time.


3. Collaborative

Many jobs require employees to work together. Effective collaboration and an appreciation of teamwork helps substantially when hiring employees for team positions. Look for candidates who enjoy spending time with others and respect hearing other perspectives and points of view.


4. Committed

Look for employees who are committed to performing their jobs well and to the success of the company. They should believe in their individual work and the overall work of the company. Often, people committed to their jobs seek out professional development opportunities to continue improving their skill set.


5. Communicative

There are very few positions that allow employees to work absolutely on their own. Most jobs require some communication with other stakeholders, both internal and external. Employees who can clearly explain themselves and listen to others are an asset to your company.


6. Confident

Confident employees are usually more open to taking risks at work since they believe in their abilities. Additionally, confident employees often need less coaching and positive reinforcement than insecure employees, which saves your management team time and energy.


7. Creative

What works for your company today may not work tomorrow. Hiring creative and innovative employees for your business can help you keep your organization moving forward and ever improving. Creative thinkers question the status quo and look for ways to improve long-standing practices and procedures.


8. Detail oriented

Most jobs require some attention to detail. You want to hire an employee who notices the small elements of a project and ensures they’re accurate. Often, detail oriented employees catch mistakes in their work before they become major issues, which can save your company money.


9. Enthusiastic

Employees who show enthusiasm for the work they do often delight in learning new things and applying novel tactics or ideas to their work. Additionally, enthusiastic employees often enjoy their work more than others since they’re excited to perform their job.


10. Hard working

A hard-working employee meets their goals. They put in the time and effort to ensure they’re contributing as much as they can to the company and not putting undue pressure on their colleagues. Often, hard workers will take extra time if they need it to complete a project well rather than submitting something unfinished.


11. Honest

Honesty is a vital quality for your employees. You want to hire people who will be truthful with you and your other employees, but who will also be truthful with customers and other stakeholders. Often, honest people are also transparent, another strong quality for an employee to demonstrate.


12. Humble

Humility is a great quality to look for in an employee. You want the people on your team to feel pride in their work, but not to the extent that they become braggadocios or arrogant. Humble employees will work hard because it’s the right thing to do, not for the sake of external motivators.


13. Inquisitive

An employee who’s always striving to learn more and increase their knowledge will benefit your company. They’ll use the information they gather and skills they hone to improve their work performance, which is advantageous to your company.


14. Leader

When you’re selecting employees you hope will stay with the company long-term, leadership is an excellent quality to screen for. Demonstrating an ability to delegate tasks and provide guidance to others, even early on in a person’s career, shows they’ll make strong leaders for your business. 


15. Marketable

Not every position is front facing, but many are. For those employees who will interact with the public, it’s important that they represent the company well. Ideally, they should maintain a professional demeanor at all times and take pride in their appearance and grooming.


16. Organized

An organized employee saves themselves, their department and the company time by knowing exactly where all their materials are and submitting documents and projects on time. For positions with multiple and varied tasks, organization is especially important.


17. Passionate

Look for an employee who is passionate about the work they do. Those who care deeply about doing a good job and meeting the goals they’ve set for themselves and that the company has set for them are likely to be highly productive and happy at work.


18. Positive

A positive outlook helps keep the employee happy at work and contributes to an overall company culture of positivity. Look for employees who enjoy the work they do and maintain an optimistic perspective even in the face of challenge or setback.


19. Proactive

Proactive employees look for ways they can improve processes and identify potential issues before they’re asked. These employees can save your company money and time by pointing out ways to improve workflow or solving problems before they arise.


20. Reliable

Reliable employees are extremely valuable. You want to know that the person you hire will complete assignments on time, show up to work when scheduled and follow instructions when given. You’ll save time and money with a reliable employee. 

Related: 17 Strategies for Employee Engagement: What’s New? 


Advice when recruiting to uncover a potential employee’s qualities

Ensure you’re taking the time to identify excellent employees with outstanding qualities by using these tips during the recruiting and hiring process:

  • Review the resume. The first place to look for these qualities is in the candidate’s resume and other application documents, like a cover letter. Look for keywords like “leader,” “reliable,” “creative” or whichever qualities you’re specifically looking for in their resume. Review the candidate’s bullet points as well to see if they demonstrate any of the qualities through their past work or education. 
  • Speak with references. Call the candidate’s references and ask them to describe the candidate’s best qualities. If there’s a specific quality you want the candidate to exhibit, ask about it directly. Consider calling more than one reference to get multiple perspectives on the candidate’s best qualities and characteristics. 
  • Administer tests. For positions in which demonstrating a specific skill from the moment of hire is vital, think about administering a personality or skills test. Many of these tests are designed specifically to elicit the test taker’s true and honest responses in given scenarios. Using a test along with a resume review and reference check can help you gain a solid understanding of the candidate’s qualities. 
  • Hold an interview. Meet with the candidate in person. Many qualities, like confidence, humility, positivity and enthusiasm should be evident during your conversation. You can ask the candidate to describe themselves or have them consider a number of scenarios in which they have to share how they would respond or react to get a sense of their personality. 

Knowing what sort of personality traits and qualities you want in your employees will help you build the best possible team for your company. When going through the recruiting and hiring process, ensure you take the time to look for and identify top qualities to ensure you hire a good employee.

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