New Hire Traits That Stand Out to Your Boss

What kinds of traits allow new hires to stand out? There are two sides to address with this question. Certain traits cut through the clutter and noise when applying for a job. If you possess these characteristics, it’s more likely you’ll interview for the role. How do you keep shining once the interview is over and a job offer has been made? We spoke to 19 entrepreneurs who gave us their advice on which great traits every new hire should possess.

1. Relevant Experience

“Whether it is a freelancer, vendor, or applicant looking to work for our company, relevant experience catches my eye immediately. I want to know they have tangible experience and a background with market research. This makes new hires stand out more than using filler words, enthusiasm, a fancy cover letter, or a degree.” — George Kuhn, President, Drive Research

2. DNA Fit

“I want to say ‘enthusiasm’ but I know what I see runs a bit deeper. You can call it company culture, but I call it DNA. It’s not just being excited about what we do, it’s also understanding our spirit — being inclusive, non-judgmental, providing people with opportunities to grow. I seek hires who embody this in their everyday behavior, and have been very lucky to find them.” — Talya Miron-Shatz, PhD., Co-Founder and CEO, Buddy&Soul

3. Excitement and Hunger

“There are two things that make new hires stand out to me. The first is showing genuine excitement for the position. Why would I hire someone who is not passionate for the job they’re applying for? Secondly, I look for candidates who are sharp and hungry for growth. I really like to see candidates who have the desire to grow within the organization. It tells me they’re looking for a career and not just a job.” — Jacob Dayan, CEO, Community Tax and FinancePal

4. Emotional Intelligence

“The most important trait new hires could possess is emotional intelligence. We’re always looking for individuals who are willing to have a meaningful impact on the business with the least amount of hand holding. It’s hard to assess this by looking at a candidate’s resume alone. This is why it’s important to ask questions that gauge emotional intelligence during the interview.When looking for emotional intelligence in a resume, see whether or not the candidate is concise and accurate. Don’t boast or exaggerate. Just tell it how it is. People who exaggerate indicate low emotional intelligence and a high level of insecurity. Insecurity isn’t exactly a bad thing, but certain roles require confidence in order to be successful.” — Bret Bonnet, Co-Founder and President, Quality Logo Products

5. Likeability

“There is something more esoteric than training, experience, and past performances that is a critical element to the success of the work done for your new hire. It’s likeability. This is the ability to have people like you and relate to those you meet and work alongside. Likability provides the sense that you’ll deliver on promises and commitments made during the interview. You will be someone the team wants to spend both work and personal time with, socialize after work, and feel comfortable being around in all-work and non-work settings and circumstances.” — Fred R. Cooper, Founder and Managing Partner, Compass HR Consulting

6. In-Person Work Sessions

“One thing we do is in-person work sessions during the hiring process. This means we bring in a potential hire to sit down and work through a problem. Either we haven’t solved the problem, or it’s a problem they’re likely to tackle in the role.

“These work sessions allows us to see what questions they ask in regards to the task. It shows us how they approach a plan to tackle the problem and how they execute the problem. It also gives us a look at whether they anticipate roadblocks and how they correct roadblocks through their work, along with how they collaborate with the team and their drive to go above and beyond before they’ve even landed the job. We have found that this is the most telling way to find out if this person can confidently be an asset from day one. We already know that they work well with the team, and work through problems in a way that’s consistent with other members in the organization. Already, it seems to be a good culture fit.” — Andrew Schmeerbauch, Director of Marketing, Clever Real Estate

7. Reliability (trustworthy new hire trait)

“Reliability is the number one thing I look for in new hires. I need people to show up on time, get their work completed, and be dependable and trustworthy. If you say you’re going to do it, do it. I shouldn’t have to ask three times or keep checking in. If there’s a problem, let me know right away. Nobody should send emails, texts or calls into the ether without responses. I shouldn’t have to worry that you’re cutting out early or not working when I’m not around. This trait — reliability — is also what I strive for every day personally as an employee.” — Amanda Ponzar, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer, Community Health Charities

8. Longevity

“Loyal new hires are one of the most valuable assets a business can have. Employee loyalty can reduce turnover and training costs. It helps develop company culture. Committed employees usually have the company’s success as their top priority. Loyal employees grow with a company. They often give their all to their job because they realize their success is a result of the company’s success. These hires seek out leadership opportunities. Not only will loyal employees stick around, they’ll also be happy employees which will reflect positively on your business.” — Matt Edstrom, CMO, GoodLife Home Loans

9. Great Attitude

“Great traits of new hires include having a good attitude and ideas. They find solutions, encourage others, and go beyond what is asked of them.” — John Crossman, CEO, Crossman & Company

10. Work Ethic (valued new hire trait)

“The biggest trait in new hires that catches my eye is experience and work ethic. Did they create any new opportunities at their previous positions? Did they take on any difficult challenges? By looking at someone’s experience and what they’ve done previously, you can see if they’ll be a good fit. If I’m looking for someone to take a leadership position, I check the potential hire’s work history for that position and see what they accomplished. Just because someone had a job title, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a good fit. It’s what they did with that job title that makes the difference. When they have points in their resume about breaking sales records or taking on new challenges, it shows enthusiasm. This is someone who takes pride in their work and will push boundaries at their next role.” —  Sean Pour, Hiring Manager, SellMax

11. Good Negotiator

“Negotiating is important at our company. It is directly tied to our ability to make profits. If a candidate does not negotiate, we usually will not bring them on to our team. Negotiating is not only challenging numbers. It’s listening to our team’s needs and correlating their experience to our needs. Our candidates need to be able to listen to a group of people, build rapport, handle objections, close us on themselves, and follow up. These attributes make our sales teams effective, which equates to our team’s success as a whole.” — Shawn Breyer, Owner, Breyer Home Buyers

12. Soft Skills

“As a healthcare recruiter, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people throughout my career. There’s one element that can make or break my decision — soft skills. These traits can be in the form of good communication skills, interpersonal skills, or work ethic. Soft skills are difficult to teach, which is what makes having them desirable. I can instruct how to process paperwork. I can help navigate computer systems and software. However, I can’t show you compassion, drive, or a positive attitude.

“Employers aren’t looking for just anyone to join their team. They want someone who’ll go the extra mile. They should be accountable, take pride in their work, and have communication skills to interact on all levels.” — Frances Dizon, Talent Acquisition and Development Specialist, Pediatric Specialists of Virginia

13. Fighter

“New hires must really want it. Interviews are more about disqualifying a candidate than qualifying one. When the questions and simulations get tougher, do they begin to withdraw or do they lean in? You want a fighter. Once they start the role, you know you’ll be able to count on them even as things evolve.” — William Lipovsky, CEO, First Quarter Finance

14. Growth Mentality

“When hiring employees, we feel like one of the most important traits candidates should possess is a growth mentality. Basically, the candidate is looking to improve themselves and find innovative ways to complete their jobs. We really believe that candidates who want to stay and grow with the company end up being much better employees than those who just come and do the bare minimum for a paycheck.” — Crystal Huang, CEO, ProSky

15. Aware Of Strengths

“Rather than just being strong candidates, I personally prefer new hires that know their value. They are incredibly talented, and confident in their skills and can sell them. They are able to sell their work, even if they aren’t a salesperson. Mixed with this ability is an understanding of their role in their organization. These hires have a readiness and commitment to moving the organization in the right direction.” — Tim Brown, Owner, Hook Agency

16. Willing To Get The Job Done (super important new hire trait)

“The new hire trait that is most important to me is the willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. As an entrepreneur, my team is small. We all have to be nimble and able to wear different hats depending upon the situation. We manage every aspect of the business from marketing, sales, procurement, fulfillment, customer satisfaction, and more. The right attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes is critical to the success of my businesses.” — Elizabeth Girouard, Founder and CEO, Pure Simple Wellness

17. Confidence

“In the process of bringing on new hires for my business, I check the confidence level of the candidate. This helps prove their stature in critical situations. In my line of work, we face hard competitions. The confidence of professionals makes the difference during crunchy moments. A candidate must have the self-confidence to show his or her ability to improvise with the demand of the situation and apply himself or herself accordingly to get hold of the situation. This ability allows the hire to be an asset to any business.” — Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing Specialist, DontPayFull

18. Passion

“The main thing we look for is passion. This is usually the greatest indicator of future success. It benefits everyone involved, from the candidate to their team and the company as a whole.” — Guv Jassal, Director, Frank Recruitment Group

19. Time Management Skills

“The number one trait I look for in new hires is excellent time management. Experience is important, but I have seen otherwise stellar candidates fail to deliver results due to poor time management. I break the hiring process into a few deadline-based steps to get a sense of a candidate’s ability to manage their time before hiring or starting a freelance contract. It’s really improved our process!” — Debra Carpenter, Marketing Manager, Sandpoint Idaho Real Estate