What Makes an All-Star Employee? 9 Traits to Look for in Job Interviews

Hiring is tricky. There is unspoken yet significant pressure on the person responsible for filtering candidates and ultimately choosing one. A bad hire is a big waste of money. So it makes sense that employers go to great lengths to attract top-tier talent, and will go to even greater lengths to hire and retain that person. The challenge is distinguishing between the bad apples, garden variety, and the all-stars.

The question is, what makes an all-star employee? Of course, your top performers will be highly skilled in whatever you need them to be. They will have experience and technical know-how, and they’ll perform at the highest level.

Skills and experience are extremely valuable when recruiting talent, but if everyone is skilled and experienced, how do you separate the all-stars? It may their soft skills and personality traits that make the difference.

Assuming each have comparable skills and experience, here are 9 traits to look for in job candidates that could make them future all-stars at your company:

1. Flexibility

With the recent push towards remote and hybrid work for white-collar workers, employees have earned more flexible working options. And along with the flexibility of location came flexibility of schedule for many. These days, flexibility is one of the things job-seekers are looking for.

But a certain level of flexibility and adaptability is something to watch for in job-candidates as well. It has to work both ways. Will they be willing to stay up late one night to help a colleague solve a problem? Will they be fine upgrading their skills, taking on a slightly different role down the road, or travelling?

2. Strong work ethic

A strong work ethic is a highly desirable trait for employers – and for good reason. But that doesn’t mean the hardest workers are the ones that stay the latest. The hardest workers on your team will take pride in their work, and will be motivated to go the extra mile for clients. They’ll also be willing to learn new things and take on more challenging tasks. That type of attitude is invaluable to any kind of organization.


3. Communication

Communication skills are necessary for both work and personal life. But those who are able to communicate clearly and effectively are able to separate themselves from the herd.

When looking for your next future all-star, keep in mind the different aspects of communication. Written communication skills will be evident before the interview, thanks to a portfolio, writing sample or cover letter. But you’ll have to watch for body language communication and verbal communication during the interview.

4. Leadership

Leadership is an extremely valuable trait that can often be difficult to pick up on during the first and second meetings. But great leaders will have almost certainly all (or most) of the traits included in this list. Anyone can be a leader, but it takes initiative.

Strong leaders have the ability to inspire those around them, delegate efficiently, think critically, and communicate effectively. No matter which type of organization you’re a part of, leaders are essential.


5. Sense of humour

One of the more overlooked traits to look for in future all-star employees is a sense of humour. You may think it’s unimportant whether people can laugh or not, but it can be a huge difference maker. People with a sense of humour are typically those that others want to be around. They also make work just a little more fun. Think to yourself – do I want to work with this person and see them everyday? If they’re funny, the answer is likely yes.

6. Ambition

An individual with ambition is someone everyone wants to work with and be around. These people are motivated, have a plan for the future, and are willing to do what it takes to see their plans through. At the end of the day, they’re looking for more, better, higher.

Having these people on your team is highly beneficial, because the ambitious attitude can be infectious. If someone on the team is super motivated and pulling harder than the rest, those around them may feel like they have to step their game up.

7. Confidence

Confidence is a tricky trait to develop, but it’s fairly easy to recognize it when you see it. Confident individuals know what they want and are able to communicate it to others clearly and effectively. They know their strengths, and are able to play to those strengths. Be careful that the confidence doesn’t stray too far towards egotistical and self-absorbed, but if you can, try to stack your team with as many confident people as possible.

8. Desire to learn

The best employees always have a desire and passion for learning. At every turn, they’re looking to further their skillset and become better than they were yesterday. This type of attitude is critical in a work environment that values excellence, passion, and growth. Without a desire to learn, your people will slip into stagnation rather quickly.

9. Teamwork

Last but certainly not least is teamwork. It’s pretty simple – you have to be able to work with others in most careers. Very rarely can you work as a lone-wolf. At the end of the day, business comes down to people, and if your people can’t work together, you won’t earn much business.
People that work well in teams are willing to learn from others, be empathetic, listen carefully, and make compromises. They can also communicate clearly, and take on a leadership role when necessary.

Are you an employer that could use some help filling roles? Whether it’s for a niche role or a special department, STRIVE Recruitment can help you fill it with top talent. Since 2008, STRIVE has consistently provided employers with top quality candidates. Contact us today to start a conversation.