8 Skills and Strengths to Look for in Job Candidates

By George Otte

Your organization deserves the very best employees it can find. Unfortunately, your competitors feel this way as well. As you compete with other organizations in your field to recruit and hire top-quality job candidates, it is important that you know how to recognize people with high potential and do your best to hire them before someone else does.

To understand what separates a good job candidate from a great one, you must understand what distinguishes good employees from excellent ones. The best hires tend to have these eight skills and strengths, regardless of industry or profession. Be sure to screen for them during the interview process.

1. Good Computer and Technology Skills

Your employees do not all need to be technical wizards. Outside of core information technology roles, it is unlikely that you expect your employees to be fluent in advanced programming languages or have more than a passing familiarity with computer engineering principles.

However, all new hires should have solid basic computer and technology skills. 


“They should be familiar with the hardware and software on which your organization runs and adept at basic device management and troubleshooting.” — George Otte


 Depending on their roles, you may even expect them to have basic computer programming skills.

2. A Willingness to Learn and Adopt New Technical Skills

Familiarity with technology is certainly important, but so is a willingness to learn and adopt new technical skills as the state of the art changes. You need to be confident that your team members’ productivity will not suffer due to a software update or device change, after all.

3. The Ability to Work Well on a Team

Teamwork is an essential employee skill, one that predates digital technology in the workplace and many of the other expectations discussed here. Look for job candidates that have demonstrated, through job references and work products, a clear ability to work well with other members of their team. If you are hiring for a management role, make sure that candidates have demonstrated an ability to support and get more out of subordinates

4. Strong Written Communication Skills

Strong written communication skills are important in any workplace environment that leverages email and workplace chat apps to get work done. Even if you do not expect the person you are hiring to produce long written reports or articles, you have every right to expect them to get their points across in writing.

5. Internal Self-Motivation and Time Management

You may have heard or even used the term “self-starter” in professional settings. Although not every role requires intense self-motivation, most are not designed for micromanagement. As such, look for employees that won’t need to be told what to do every day, and who know how to manage their time as they work toward goals and complete projects.

6. Introspectiveness and an Ability to Admit Mistakes

Good employees are capable of looking inside themselves and identifying areas for improvement. They can also admit mistakes when it makes sense for them to do so. Employees without these capabilities tend to create more problems than they solve over time.

7. Good Organizational Skills

You should expect every employee to possess basic organizational skills, whether they work in your office or remotely. Organized employees are much more likely to produce excellent work and remain on-deadline than those that struggle to keep track of their responsibilities.

8. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

All employees need to have strong problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities. Because it is unlikely that you are designing roles for micromanagement, you should expect employees to be able to identify and solve many problems on their own, even as you and your fellow managers make themselves available for support with more difficult issues that employees can’t address themselves.

Are you planning to hire new team members this year? What is the most important skill or strength you look for in a job candidate?


George Otte is a Miami-based entrepreneur and executive with more than 15 years of multifaceted business operations experience.