Who to Hire: Is There a True Definition of a ‘Good Employee’?

Humans have been able to cohabit peacefully, to a degree, for centuries because of the moral codes prescribing what’s ‘good or bad’ and ‘right or wrong’. These standards are able to simplify the way we act, behave, and judge – pruning the bad apples that could potentially threaten the balance of a harmonious society. We often see this mentality prevail in traditional workplaces. When hiring or managing current teams, leaders tend to reward traits that define a ‘good employee’ – often represented by someone who is punctual, diligent at their work, listens, and follows instructions well.

As time passes, modern leaders might argue otherwise the qualities that depict a ‘top player’, which have now stretched beyond the standard code of conduct to include intangible areas such as leadership and communication skills. But identifying the various qualities of a good team player takes more than just checking off boxes on a list. If conventional hiring prioritizes a candidate’s strengths alone, perhaps an alternate way to succeed in modern recruiting is to focus less on the people, and more on the job.

Being the Perfect Candidate vs. Being the Perfect-Fit

Imagine the world’s most talented surgeon being in the role of a mechanic; or a pilot who preferred taking risks over following detailed procedures. Discovering great talents seems easy when all you’re looking at are the qualities that appeal to you, with no reference to the position itself. A good hiring decision, however, starts with determining the abilities, interests, and personality required for candidates to succeed in the role for which they are being considered. This is what we refer to as a good ‘job-fit’.

Your Surroundings Matter

On top of a person’s compatibility with the job, finding the perfect fit for a role takes into account a variety of external factors. Are we in a global crisis where creativity and adaptive skills are highly valued? Does this remote work position require candidates to be self-driven and independent? It’s important for hiring managers to recognize that jobs are malleable. While most positions have a definite job description that details all the requirements for the role, these conditions should be able to change according to the situation we’re in.

Just because a candidate is unfit for a role doesn’t mean they can’t thrive as a great employee in another. Now that topics on diversity are back on the discussion board as well, maybe we should get rid of all boxed expectations and start appreciating each candidate for who they truly are.