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The other day I talked about two of five key behaviors that every great talent has – work ethic and strategic thinking ability.

Today I want to talk about the other three:

1. Intellectual Curiosity

2. Self-Awareness

1. My word processor doesn’t like the word coachability for some reason.3. Listening Ability (or “coachability” 1, if you will)

Intellectual Curiosity

Intellectual Curiosity

I’ve talked before about how learning has compensable value, and the same holds true of its value as it concerns employability.

Give me the candidate that loves learning for the sake of learning but is rough around the edges over the technically solid but apathetic candidate any day. I’m looking for the candidate that has lots of questions after the interview is over – about the company but also about the details of the 2. What a candidate does in his/her free time can also tell you a lot about what sort of employee he/she will be.work. 2

There is some debate about this topic, but I’m of the opinion that less passionate workers are also less productive. Candidates that are intellectually curious are also (by definition) passionate about learning, and in my experience that makes them better employees than their less passionate counterparts over the long run. All other things being equal (and sometimes even when they’re not), go with the passionate candidate.

Know Thyself

Self Awareness

One interview question that many recruiters ask (and that many interviewers give a bad answer to) is “Tell me about your biggest weakness”.

I love asking this question, and although very few candidates answer it honestly (most of them give a strength disguised as a weakness like “I work too hard” or “I care too much”), the few that do win huge points with me.

The ability to honestly assess one’s strengths and weaknesses is not only a relatively rare trait, but also an invaluable one in the workplace.

An employee that knows what he/she can do and knows what he/she can’t do is an employee that can grow his/her skill set without harming the company in the process.

Or, put another way, an employee who knows that he/she can do A, B and C but not X, Y and Z is often more valuable than an employee that can do A, B, C, X and Y but also thinks he/she can do Z even though it isn’t true:

A self-aware employee often adds to a team simply by not subtracting. Conversely, an employee that doesn’t know his/her limits is often dangerous to himself/herself, his/her colleagues, and the company.

…Of course, a self aware employee who has the ability to listen (i.e. is coachable) is even more valuable.

Children are often great listeners. Why so many lose this skill as adults could be its own blog post.

Children are often great listeners. Why so many lose this skill as adults could be its own blog post.

An employee that can take his/her ego out of the equation and listen is someone I want on my team (as do most managers). And as I talked about the other day, regardless of what prior experience a candidate brings to the table, much of his/her success in a new role will be determined by the ability to learn the company specific skills required to perform the new job effectively.

Ultimately, there’s no magic formula for finding the perfect candidate. With that said, however, all of the great ones will be hard workers, have the ability to thing strategically, be intellectually curious about the world around them, self aware enough to know their limits, and humble enough to be coached.

If any of the above ingredients are missing it doesn’t mean you don’t have an employable candidate on your hands, but he/she almost certainly doesn’t qualify as great.

What do you think. Do I have it right?

Share your thoughts below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com