Qualities to Look for in Job Candidates

When you are running a small business, every member of staff whom you invite onto your team is crucial. It is highly likely that you are going to be entrusting them with some big responsibilities, and you want to ensure that they are ready to handle them. Obviously, you need to put a clear and comprehensive hiring process in place which includes a detailed job description, strong interview process, and reference checking. But what sort of qualities are you looking for in the first place? While we can’t pretend to know your company inside and out, we can provide you with some suggestions of the qualities which are going to serve your business well. And here are just a few of the main ones.


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Eagerness to Learn

Even if the candidate doesn’t have a great deal of experience at the moment, their willingness to learn is important to measure. Recent graduates are a popular choice as they can pick up new skills with ease and can often be moulded the needs of your business. However, it is also worth keeping an eye out for people who have a specific passion for your field. Also, you could look for lifelong learners with an MBA or other qualifications who have always shown a willingness to pick up new skills, as well as developing themselves both personally and professionally.

Willingness to Take Responsibility

When there are only a limited number of employees working for an organisation, it is especially important that everyone takes a degree of responsibility. Ultimately, this can be challenging to determine to start off with, which is why your interview questions need to be highly targeted. Rather than only sticking to their own individual area of responsibility, your ideal candidate will be willing to get involved in doing everything that they can to further the needs of your business.


Running a small business means that it is highly likely that everyone will be working in close proximity. Therefore, it is worth considering how well your candidates are going to get on with you, as well as everyone else at your organisation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to hire everyone who has exactly the same personality, but they need to be adaptable and willing to work with others. Don’t be scared to take people on a trial basis to begin with to see how well they gel with the other employees at your business.


Since you have started a small business, it is likely that you have a high level of ambition, and you want the kind of candidates who match your willingness to succeed. Look for people who have had a track level of advancement. Of course, the obvious question to ask is ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’. But you want to see some evidence to back up their answers. Even if they are a recent graduate, you can get a sense of their personality based on their other achievements. Get someone with the right level of enthusiasm, and they can even end up inspiring you to achieve greater things.

Sharing a Vision with You


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Obviously, not all new candidates can possibly share your vision straight away, but they can show a passion for the way that you conduct your business. Take note of how thoroughly they have researched your company before the interview stage, as well as the type of questions that they have for you. Ultimately, it is your job to see how closely they align with your mission based on what you have seen and heard.

A Range of Skills

While you may be hiring people to do one specific job, it doesn’t hurt for them to be multi-skilled, especially since you are likely to need a range of abilities to get your small business off the ground. If the candidate has worked for a small business in the past, it is likely that they have a good general idea of what is expected of them. You should also ask about their level of experience in handling a range of different tasks and projects at the same time.


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One of the main joys of running a small business is that you can do things differently to the way that they have been done in the past. Therefore, you don’t want to hire people who are already set in their ways, and not willing to adapt. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be innovative and have new ideas, but you don’t want people who are fixed in a single worldview which they are unwilling to shift in any way. It is worth asking how they would respond if they were asked to take on different responsibilities than their job description.

You may think that you have found the ideal candidate for the job, but it is still worth proceeding with some caution. First of all, you should always check the references which you are given. This doesn’t take a great deal of time, and it will give you a better idea of whether the candidate is genuine, or simply too good to be true. Once you are happy to take them on board, consider doing so on a trial basis to begin with. This way, you will be able to determine whether everything that they promised in the interview checks out, as well as how well they get on with your existing members of staff. Finally, it is always worth trusting your gut. If something doesn’t feel right about that particular candidate, you shouldn’t hire them. After all, you want them to play an integral role in your business, and you are not giving them the best chance of doing this if you have these niggling doubts at the back of your mind. Over time, you should start to come up with a refined and clear hiring process, which stands you in good stead as your company continues to grow.

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