The 4 Most Important Character Traits for New Employees

Sep 23, 2020 | Business, HR, Onboarding, Small Business

Congratulations! Your business is growing! You’ve done the hard work, beaten the hedges, plowed the rocky ground—and now you’re seeing the fruit of your labor.

But you’re stressed out because all of this new work is way too much for you to handle! You find that your current staffing situation isn’t cutting it, so you’ve come to the fork in the road where you either continue trying to do it all yourself, or you take the plunge and hire a new employee.

You’re conflicted, though, because you’ve been burned before. You hired someone who checked off all of the job’s boxes: they were educated, dressed the part, and most (so you thought) importantly they were experts in all of the skills the role required. But once you brought them on board, they didn’t perform well. They were an expert, but they were late to work and never seemed to finish the job. They constantly were involved in squabbles with other employees. They talked down to your customers. They actually cost you business!

Being gunshy is understandable in your situation. But we think the problem may be solvable for you. The reason is that you were looking at a potential employee’s skills, when what is most important in a new hire is their character.

Here are some key character qualities that employers should look for in a job candidate.


We’ve seen it too often. Someone has great work skills, but they just can’t seem to tell the truth. They take office products that don’t belong to them. They say they got to work at 8:00 but you know for a fact they weren’t there until at least 8:25. They called in sick but you saw on social media that they were at the lake on a jet ski. If they do make a mistake, they’re too quick to point the blame at someone else. They spend more time trying to cover up their own faults than they do producing results for your company.

Having honest employees is primum momenti—of first importance. Having the highest skilled employees or employees willing to work for pennies will come back to bite you every time if they are not first of all honest.


I would take one hard worker who didn’t have all of the skills to do a job to five people who were highly skilled but who had lazy streaks. A person who by nature is driven to serve others by working hard is priceless. They realize that their job isn’t an end of itself—others are depending on them and they are willing to pull extra weight or put in extra time so that the company as a whole will thrive. Your customers will recognize it and choose to do business with you because they want to work with someone willing to go the extra mile to make their life better.


Related to having a strong work ethic is having an enthusiasm to learn. None of us know everything there is about any given topic. There is always something more to learn! So if you have a job candidate that willingly admits they don’t know it all but who has a track record of gaining new skills through outside training or extra hours of education, you are looking at someone who won’t stop until they get the best results for you, your company, and your customers. Give them opportunities to learn new skills and positions and watch them take your company to the next level.


It is tempting to hire the person who presents themselves well in dress and speech, who has the education and training to do the job, and who has experience in excelling doing the work. But if that person isn’t a servant at heart, then you’re setting yourself up for a trainwreck. Your potential employee needs to have an understanding that they are not the center of the universe. In order to work well with and for others, they need to have a humble heart and mind that is willing to think of others first. A selfish, self-focused person will not take care of your customers the way you would want, nor would they help keep your current and future customers happy. They need to be able to see past themselves and ask, “what can I do” for their co-workers, their management, and their customers.

We know that taking on new employees is a big milestone and an important process for you and your company. We can help you work through what to look for, as well as helping you set up a payroll system to take the load off of you so you can have more time to devote to getting to know and train your new employees! If we can help you, you can reach us here. We look forward to talking with you!

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