When you’re hiring help for your small business, what do you look for? There are tons of different opinions on what makes a good employee, but some of the basics are universal. Today, let’s take a look at the ways you can weed out the good applicants from everyone else. Here are the top qualities to look for in a new applicant.


Double-check the resumes of applicants and make sure people are telling the truth. Easy-to-verify things like where they went to school, where they’ve worked, and their previous compensation can all be quickly ascertained. If these things don’t add up, this is someone you don’t want working for you. If an applicant is willing to lie to get their foot in the door, then they’re likely to view the job as just a paycheck and not put their all into it. Not to mention, dishonest applicants are more likely to steal from your business.

Genuine Interest

When you’re interviewing candidates, try to gauge their interest in your business. Ask them questions about what you sell, your business model, and your clientele. If they’ve done their research, they’ll be able to engage you about the business. If they haven’t, it’ll be plainly obvious. Questions like “so what do you guys do here” should be red flags during an interview. This is why it’s vital to have applicants also ask questions of the interviewer. If they’re asking insightful questions that show a true interest in the business, then they’re probably a good candidate. If their main concern is compensation and benefits, then they’re probably only looking for an easy paycheck.

Work Ethic

For most small businesses, your main concern for your employees should be their work ethic and determination. If you have two candidates, one with a great background but a bad attitude, and the other with a slightly worse work record but a much better work ethic, then you might be tempted to go with the candidate with the track record. However, this is likely a mistake. Applicants who show genuine excitement in your business are often much better for your company than applicants who are uninterested but well-educated. While you might be tempted to defer to the candidate with the higher experience or education level, let work ethic and interest in the business be the final determination in whether you give a candidate a shot. Most of all, be open! Don’t have a picture in your head of who the “perfect applicant” is before you start conducting interviews. The right person with the right attitude can be the perfect applicant, regardless of background or appearance.