What Makes a Great Employee

April 12th, 2021

You’ve just reached the end of a promising interview with a candidate who seems to have it all, at least on paper. Everything looks great; the person is friendly and pleasant, the resume checks every box, and you’re ready to cancel the other scheduled interviews and get the onboarding process started immediately. But before you do, pause for a minute. Are you actually sure the candidate will help your company make money and grow? Or do you just feel a warm sense of personal connection?

Keep these considerations in mind before you sign anything.

Great employees and pleasant new friends are often one and the same. But sometimes they aren’t.

If you’ll be sitting beside this person every day, you definitely want a candidate you can get along with. But you aren’t just going to be sitting beside him or her; you’re going to be counting on her to engage with the tasks of the day and tackle them independently and successfully. Can you trust this candidate to care about the work that you care about? Can you leave him alone and know he’ll follow through? If you aren’t sure, make sure the interview entails a few questions about his personal interest in this industry, this company, and this career.

Tests can help.

Will this candidate need to use a certain program every day, like Excel, Word or Photoshop? If so, conduct a hard (as in, measurable) assessment of his or her skills with this tool. Numbers don’t usually lie. If the candidate is brilliant and friendly but totally unfamiliar with the tools of the job, you’ll be investing in significant training after you hire them. Can you afford that time?

Does the candidate seem willing to invest in you?

The candidate seems enthusiastic about the job, but if she’s hired, how long is she likely to stay? If you want someone who will stay on board for at least one, three, or five years, ask directly if she’s likely to do this. She may shape the truth to fit the needs of the moment and land the role, but she may also

simply tell you the length of time she has in mind. Six months may be fine; ten years may be unrealistic. There’s no harm in asking.

Do you find the candidate threatening?

It can be exciting to sit across from a go-getter who will step in the door and start changing the company right away. But in actual practice, many employers aren’t ready for this kind of change-driving problem solver, especially if the “problems” are things employers are not ready to solve right away (or ever). Will you find yourself at cross-purposes with her enthusiasm and ambition? Be honest with yourself. If you’re looking for a candidate who will sit quietly and stay out of the way, put this one in the maybe file and get ready for the next interview on the schedule.

For more on how to hire the right candidate, not just the “best” candidate, turn to the staffing pros at PSU.

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