As a business owner, you are faced with finding and hiring (and eventually keeping) good, hardworking employees. Building and expanding your staff is one of the hardest things to do as a business owner. It requires weeks of interviews and repetitive questions and even when it’s over, you might end up regretting your decision.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what makes a good employee and the 13 characteristics of a hard worker so that you can navigate these issues more smoothly and land the employee your business is looking for.

Here are the top 13 traits of a good employee:


There are a lot of great qualities to look for in potential employees but perhaps the most noticeable is ambition. Ambition can’t be replicated or replaced with another skill, but it is contagious. Hiring someone who is ambitious about their work can have a positive impact on your entire team and the more pride everyone puts into their work, the better the result.

Interviewing someone with ambition will be apparent immediately. When someone is passionate about the job they are interviewing for, they will speak about it in length and sometimes even ramble. Design your interview questions to spark an ambitious conversation during interviews and see how your applicants respond. The results might surprise you.

Effective Communicator

Many people confuse being a great communicator with being talkative. While talking is undoubtedly a large part of communicating, one of the qualities in a good employee you’re looking for isn’t the loudest person in the room, but rather the person who can most clearly convey what it is that they’re trying to say.

Effective communication is helpful in:

  • Leadership roles
  • Emails
  • Collaboration
  • Asking questions

Great Attitude

Quality of work is, of course, a big part of what makes a good employee, but it isn’t the only factor.  An employee with a great attitude can be a valuable asset, even if they aren’t quite refined yet in their line of work.

Employees with great attitudes can be taught to do what is needed from them as well as boost team morale. It may be hard to identify at first, but an employee’s great attitude will quickly shine through as they get comfortable in their new role.


Skill is important, but without confidence, that skill might never see the light of day. During your hiring process, confidence is something to keep an eye out for – as is overconfidence.

There is a difference between being confident and obnoxious and the two can easily be confused for one another. The right employee for your business is one that is confident enough in their work to stand by it but humble enough to take criticism when needed.

You should be able to identify a confident applicant from basic interview questions like “what do you think you can bring to this company?”


A dependable person is a model of consistency; someone who always gets the job done. As a business owner, nothing provides you peace of mind more than knowing something is getting done without you having to check on it.

Signs of a dependable employee:

  • Arrives to work on time and consistently
  • Always finishes assignments on time
  • Is prompt and concise when responding
  • Asks questions and knows what’s expected of them


When it comes to good qualities for a job, good work ethic is one you may come to expect from your employees, but that doesn’t mean everyone has one. Knowing your employees are self-starters who don’t need a fire lit under them isn’t just a character trait of a good employee, it’s one of the best attributes you can ask for.

Good work qualities that make up a good work ethic:

  • Good organization skill
  • Manages time well
  • Giving a task the attention it requires
  • Always looking for ways to improve

Team Player

Every business is a team, some bigger than others. And just as important as the leader of that team are the role players. Being able to work with other employees towards achieving a common goal is one of the professional qualities you should always look for in a new hire.

How to identify a “team player”:

  • Listens well
  • Isn’t afraid to lead but doesn’t need to
  • Can give and receive constructive feedback
  • Has a history of collaboration

Cultural Fit

No one knows your company’s culture better than you. That means no one knows if an applicant is a good fit for your company’s culture better than you. Your company has found its own personality since the time you started it and you’ve probably helped to mold that personality to match the vision you have for your company.

Hiring employees who match your company’s culture and vision you have for is just as important as every other quality on this list.

When you’re interviewing for a new position, especially one that’s part of a collaborative team, it’s important that you keep your current employees and their own personalities in mind as well. Finding employees who get along and work well together can make an immediate impact on the way your company socializes internally and even increase productivity.

Detail Oriented

Being detail oriented is a must in today’s business environment. A detail oriented employee is one that makes few mistakes, follows directions well and asks questions if they need something clarified. Why this type of employee is valuable is self-explanatory, but finding a detail-oriented worker can be hard.

You may be able to identify a detail-oriented employee in the interviewing process by the questions they ask and the information they’ve taken the initiative to collect on their own about your company. On the list of good employee qualities, detail oriented is one that should be in the front of your mind as you search for a new addition to your team.


Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. The type of creativity you should be looking for in an employee is creative thinking. A creative thinker not only finds ways around simple obstacles but brings ideas and different perspectives to the table.

Identifying a creative employee in the interviewing process can be tricky but there are ways to do it. Present your applicants with a hypothetical situation that there is no wrong answer to. All you’re looking to hear from this answer is the creative ways your applicants would decide to solve a problem. Because you’re putting them on the spot, they may not respond extremely well, but you’re looking to see their thought process, not their solution to an imaginary issue.


Another quality of a good employee is their ability to adapt to different situations. As a business owner, you know how quickly things can change and the success of your business entirely relies on your ability to adjust and keep moving forward. You should expect the same from your employees.

Adapting to different work environments and positions isn’t something that your employees are going to be excited for but it is a necessary trait. Identifying an easily adaptable employee isn’t something that’s going to be blatantly obvious during their interview, but after a few weeks on the job, you’ll be able to tell who easily adapts to new situations who doesn’t.

Leadership Potential

Identifying leadership potential comes from seeing your new employees in action. You may see glimpses of it during their interviewing process, but until you’ve seen them take charge of their group or lead by example, identifying leadership potential is as

Embraces Challenges

The last quality of a good employee that you should seek out is one that all business owners have themselves. – embracing challenges. An employee who embraces a challenge isn’t afraid to take on change face to face. If you ask this employee to complete a task they’ve never attempted before, not only will they do it, they’ll try their hardest to understand and accomplish it.

Embracing a challenge isn’t just a quality of a good employee, it’s a quality we should all strive to have. In fact, a lot of these skills are important to succeed in life in general, not just to work for your company.

Finding the right employee for your company can be hard, but at the end of the day, if you genuinely like the applicant and feel like they bring an enthusiastic personality and unique skill set to the table, you’ve probably found the candidate you’re looking for.

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