7 Traits and 15 Interview Questions to Help You Hire Worthy Employees

By Dave Anderson

Hiring employees is tricky business. You can't necessarily trust your instincts about how an employee will perform and how they will fit in your workplace. Learn to identify 7 important character traits by asking the right interview questions. 

When it comes to evaluating job candidates, appearances can be deceiving, and trusting your gut can turn out to be a costly mistake. That’s why it’s important to ask questions that will give you a true glimpse of an individual’s competency, strengths, weaknesses, and character.

These fifteen questions will help you to accurately assess whether candidates possess seven key character traits that will be assets to your company. These questions are meant to be a starting point, and their words should be changed to fit your organization and your own personality. Remember, you can teach skills and knowledge, but you cannot teach character!

Character Trait: Truthfulness

  • Is there anything wrong with telling a caller, vendor, or someone asking for a contribution that someone is not in, even if he or she is?
  • Has a former boss ever asked you to tell a white lie? How did you handle it?

Character Trait: Work Ethic

  • Could you define for me what you believe doing a good job is? A great job?
  • In your last position, what particular task or project do you believe you did a great job with? Be specific. Explain why you feel it was great.


Character Trait: Teachability

  • Please name for me some of the books, CDs, or DVDs you have in your personal development library at home.
  • What is the last serious book you read? What did you like best about it? What have you applied or changed as a result of reading it?

Character Trait: Keeping Commitments

  • Under what circumstances is it acceptable to not keep a commitment or to not do what you said you would do?
  • What is the last commitment you failed to keep? Why?

Character Trait: A Forgiving Spirit

  • What is the hardest thing you have had to forgive in the workplace?
  • How did you handle it? Are you still dealing with it?

Character Trait: Timeliness and Meeting Deadlines

  • When was the last time you were late to anything? Why? How late were you? How did you handle it?
  • Here is a famous quote: “Being late is the arrogant choice.” Do you agree, or do you feel it is too harsh and judgmental? Do you believe that being late is a sign of arrogance?
  • Have you ever missed a work-related deadline? Tell me about it.

Character Trait: Acceptance of Responsibility

  • You have obviously accomplished a lot in your life. If you had to list three factors that have prevented you from being even further along than you are now, what are they? (Note: Do your interviewees accept responsibility by blaming their own internal decisions, or do they shift blame to outside conditions?)
  • We expect anyone working for us to take some risks, seize the initiative, and make mistakes from time to time. Describe for me some of the bigger mistakes you have made in past jobs and what you learned from them.

About the Author:

Dave Anderson is author of How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables, and Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-93628-3, $24.95, www.learntolead.com), is president of Dave Anderson’s Learn to Lead, and has given over 1,000 leadership presentations in thirteen countries. He is also the author of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business; If You Don’t Make Waves, You’ll Drown; Up Your Business!; How to Deal with Difficult Customers; and the TKO business series, all from Wiley. He and his wife, Rhonda, are cofounders of The Matthew 25:35 Foundation, which helps feed, educate, and house under-resourced people throughout the world.

For more information, please visit www.learntolead.com.

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