Qualities to Look for in Entry-level Candidates

Potential over skills.

With experienced talent in short supply, it’s beneficial to change your outlook when it comes to hiring and learn how to identify the qualities that predict success in any role, regardless of experience.

Sometimes in a tough candidate market, we have to put our experience expectations aside and focus on finding the characteristics that top employees possess.

Identifying candidates with the following qualities will enhance your team and ultimately set your business up for a successful future:

Team Player/Relationship Builder

Does the candidate prefer a team-oriented environment? Are they outgoing? Do they enjoy engaging with co-workers? Do they have any experience working on a team, even in a volunteer setting? Ask these questions and dive deep into their resume. Being able to work well with others will be essential for entry-level candidates to learn the company and the role at a quicker pace. Having the ability to connect with co-workers will also translate to building strong relationships with customers and clients, which is an essential part of almost any role.
This is a key quality to look for, as a true team player will be willing to jump in wherever they are needed to benefit their team.

Ability to take Constructive Criticism

Is the individual receptive to learning? Candidates with no experience will need to be trained and coached, and with this comes constructive criticism. In the interview, pay close attention to the candidate blaming others for their mistakes or getting overly defensive. Any new employee wouldn’t succeed without feedback, so being able to build and improve from criticism is an important quality to seek out.

Reliable and Timely

Half of the battle as a staffing agency is getting a candidate to commit to and actually show up for an interview. Hiring an employee you can rely on is a huge deal for obvious reasons. When calling references, ask about previous attendance issues.

Honest and Ethical

Ask strategic interview questions to find out if someone has good judgement, can admit their mistakes and is honest. Honesty is the foundation of a solid employee you’ll want around for the long haul.


Is the candidate goal-oriented? Do they seem eager to make money? Driven applicants will always be striving to improve, which is a bonus for your business. Has the candidate worked multiple jobs at once in the past to make ends meet? Find the hungry, driven candidates, and train them!

A Fantastic Attitude

Extensive work experience will never compare to a great attitude. Motivation to learn and the willingness to be taught, in addition to the qualities listed above, is really all you need to build the team your organization needs.


Learn to identify the right qualities and attitude to help your company flourish. Once you find great potential, tailor and train your new entry-level hires and watch them grow into your company’s top leaders years down the road.