When you own a small business, every employee counts and trusted team workers are key to your business success.  Team members are the face and voice of your brand.  Employees also work behind the scenes to help make your business successful and/or directly with customers. With your business success riding on every employment decision, how do you hire the right people to help your company grow?

Here are nine key points to look for when hiring employees for your small business, as well as some additional tips to help you in the process.

  1. Understand and excited about your vision

Not every new hire has to be delighted about your product or service, but they should be passionate about the way you do business. Listen carefully to what they ask about and how much research they did ahead of time about your company and your brand.  At the very least, an Internet search should yield enough information that helps the prospective employee ask appropriate and even thought-provoking questions. And don’t forget to ask the tried-and-true questions such, “Why do you want to work here?” “Why do you think you would be a good fit?”  It will help you determine their enthusiasm. If they respect your company values and believe wholeheartedly in your mission, they will be great ambassadors for your company in your community.

  1. Lifelong learners

They are looking for ways to learn and use challenging situations as a learning experience. The ability to learn new things is essential in a small business employee. While continuing education and certifications might be clues to lifelong learners, also ask them what keeps them motivated on the job. If learning plays a role in what fuels their professional life, then you know you’ve identified a “lifelong learner.”

  1. Take Responsibility

All employees have to be present in a small company and be responsible for their own actions. During the interview, ask questions, such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to pick up tasks for a coworker.” You want to hire job candidates who will ask, “How can I help?” when they see something that needs to be done.  And, when a mistake is made that employee won’t spent time blaming everyone around them but rather owning the mistake and correcting the best they can.  Or feels free to enlist the help of others to fix the mistake and potential ramifications.

  1. Works well with others

Working in a small company means employees can’t avoid each other.  Even if your team works remotely, there should still be a team feel and ability to get along and work together.   This includes other employees in your company as well as customers that they come in contact with. This doesn’t mean they all have to have be the same temperament. Just no whiners, temper tantrums, grudge holders or bullies.  These traits drain others and create a culture of distrust.

  1. Investigators, explorers and artists

Look for employee who are willing to take on new tasks and projects. They’re proactive and looking for ways to grow within your company. Look for employees that have demonstrated initiative.  Ask questions such as “What new projects did you take on?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

  1. Flexibility

Small business employees need to be able to switch and wear many different hats and perform a variety of tasks in order to succeed in this fast-paced, challenging business world. During your interview process, ask potential candidates for examples of successfully managed projects or situations where the situation changed, and the project needed to change course.  Ask them how they define flexibility in their job and an example of how they have incorporated the flexibility trait.

  1. Not Your Clone

Resist the temptation to hire another you. This could eliminate some of those situations where you missed something important or so mundane that it just slipped by unnoticed. Your own blind spots can be your worst enemies. Hire employees who can bring something that you don’t have. That might be a different personality, experience in a related industry or simply a novel approach to solving problems.  And make sure they are comfortable communicating with you or your team what they think or see that could be changed to help your company.

  1. Able to work alone and in a team

People who prefer to work alone, are self-motivated and don’t procrastinate on tasks are great.  But, in a small company, it is also helpful if those same employees can work in teams when needed.  Working in teams is quite different then working alone.  Both working alone or in a team requires good written and spoken communication skills as well as patience to describe and present, so others understand.  During this time, since many employees are working remotely, it helps that a skill of working in teams in online meetings is a needed skill.

  1. No whiners, temper tantrums, uncontrollable anger, throwing things, bully’s

This is often hard to evaluate until the employee is hired and find themselves in a difficult situation.  So, try people out.  Hire them on a project or freelance basis for 3-6 months and see what happens when they get thrown challenges, changes or whatever else this new changing, challenging marketplace can bring.

You are not likely to find all these traits in a single employee.  But building a team that encompasses these qualities as a whole will be beneficial for your business.