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Bringing on new employees is rarely a walk in the park as far as the amount of preparation and post-interview reflection & analysis required is concerned.

Certain companies attempt to dodge the post-interview analysis process by simply going with the hiring manager’s gut instinct on who would be a good fit. While that route may work in rare instances, it’s not a sound strategy to rely on if you’re looking to consistently find the best fit for your company.

Not properly vetting prospective employees beyond skill level is a tremendously risky move as it opens the door to red flags that aren’t apparent on the surface level, but could expose themselves in the future.

For companies to effectively dissect the potential in prospective employees, they have to be aware of not only the qualities to look out for but also the best way to identify said qualities.

1. Knowing When and How To Collaborate

The ability to get along and work well with others has been ingrained in most people from a very young age.

Whether it was through a team sport or a group activity, it’s a fairly standard part of the socialization process. There is a clear distinction between being forced to work in a collaborative environment and thriving in a professional environment. The latter is a quality that should be sought after when looking for a new employee.

Employers understand that people thrive in collaborative settings to varying degrees, but each job will have different expectations in terms of what they expect in terms of collaboration.

If you feel that you’re somebody who thrives off of only working alone, and a company passes up on the opportunity to hire you, that doesn’t mean you are unqualified to do the actual work. It just means that you might be better off seeking out positions that don’t require as much of a collaborative effort.

From an employer’s perspective, it can be difficult to identify those who seem to be more preoccupied with personal career growth while showing a complete lack of regard for the growth of a company’s value.

However, being able to do so plays a big part in finding the best fit for your company. There’s a good chance that most candidates will inherently value their personal career growth over the growth of their company.

This does not mean they won’t thrive in a collaborative environment. What you want to look out for as an employer is someone who demonstrates a strong balance of pride in their career trajectory as well as a willingness to lend assistance to others even if it might not fall under their responsibility.

 A good way to gauge if they are a true team player is to inquire about an instance where they worked on a group project or assignment where one person was not pulling their weight and how they handled that situation.

If they truly were concerned with how it would impact their team, they would nip the issue in the bud as soon as possible by reporting it to someone in management and ensuring that the loose ends were tied up by pulling the extra weight. It’s also perfectly okay to reach out for help when feeling overwhelmed to prevent the issue from festering and impacting your entire team.  

According to Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans “An employee feeling overwhelmed can have a ripple effect, as a superior, it is equally important to reach out and help if they notice an employee feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work they have.” You obviously can’t sustain having to constantly pull extra weight without burning out but having to occasionally carry others’ weight is just a harsh reality of working in environments where collaboration is necessary.

In those rare instances where you have to pull the extra weight, upper management will typically notice and reward you for it while those who consistently put that extra weight on others will likely find themselves out of a job shortly.

Collaborating on a Project

2. Demonstrating Strong Sense of Independence

Most people know the importance of collaboration in the workplace, but some take that idea to such an extreme that they completely devalue the ability to work independently.

Most employees hear the word balance a lot throughout your career and for good reason. There are extremes for every quality, including working too hard which will inevitably lead to various degrees of burnout. Finding someone who can work alongside other people while also taking the initiative to work independently is the key to finding the most desirable candidates.

As an employer, look out for the candidates that emphasize their ability to self-motivate themselves and work under minimal supervision. Those employees will be less likely to waste upper management’s time by constantly shadowing them.

The correlation between those who are self-motivated and those that handle stress well is incredibly strong. Those who are self-motivated and work well autonomously tend to have a system in place in terms of prioritization.

Asking the candidate how they’ve handled multiple urgent tasks on their plates simultaneously is a great way to get insight on their prioritization process, as well as being able to identify if they can still be productive when facing stress.

3. Ambitious Tendencies Indicate Work Ethic

Ambition in a prospective employee is a very advantageous quality as it is a strong indicator of a person’s ability to identify problems and remedy them. The drive that stems from true ambition is the reason why ambitious people are more likely to problem-solve and think critically.

A sense of apathy about one’s future goals is a red flag, as it could indicate that they may not possess the motivation to maintain a strong work ethic in the long run. This does not mean that you need to have a clearly defined path set for yourself. Many people need exposure to various professional opportunities before deciding where they want to commit their future career arc.

Even being ambitious about growing in a general sense in an industry is a good indicator that the candidate will be tenacious when it comes to working hard enough to earn recognition from those who work around and above them.

A good way to identify if the ambition is genuine and free of any red flags is by paying attention to whether or not the candidate gives ex-colleagues their fair share of the credit.

If employees are only tooting their own horn and taking credit for every good thing that happened at their last company, it can be interpreted as the candidate trying to trick the interviewers into believing they are more ambitious than they are.

An ambitious person will have naturally been selected to be a part of a wide variety of projects, and when prompted in an interview would show zero hesitancy towards giving proper credit where it is due.  

Successful Path


The ability to pinpoint desirable qualities in a potential hire has no exact method to follow and the amount of qualities to keep an eye out for is quite hefty.

For the sake of practicality, I highly advise focusing on the desirable qualities that match up best with what the particular position demands. What qualities are considered the most essential will differ depending on who you ask.

I’ve always found the ability to strike that balance of being a strong collaborator and a driven, independent worker to be a good indicator of possessing other desirable traits such as enthusiasm and passion. The sooner one can truly demonstrate those values, the sooner the hiring team will feel confident bringing them on.

Written By
Ian Howard is a contributing writer for 365 Business. He has a B.A. in Film & Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His experience lies in a variety of fields including marketing, statistical analysis, and creative writing. When he isn’t typing away, you can usually find him out on the links carrying a sense of false hope that he will improve his handicap, or reading a soothing piece of fiction.

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