Candidates often answer interview questions about personality traits based on their idealized self instead of their true self. For instance, if you asked a candidate if they view themselves as entrepreneurial, they will likely say yes, since that is a trait most people admire. Yet, not every role requires an entrepreneur. It’s important to accurately assess these traits in candidates so you have people with the right traits filling the right roles, no matter how senior or junior the opportunity. What traits should you look for in your current or future team?


“Passionate” is one of those qualities that many would claim to have. So how does passion manifest itself? Passionate individuals wake up every day craving success. They are obsessed with the idea of achieving their goals and wasting as little time as possible doing it.

The key, of course, is that passion is channeled into action. We have all met individuals who are passionate about so much yet accomplish very little, because they lack the focus required to turn their thoughts into action. When talking about passion, look for individuals who generate results. How did their passion translate to achievement?


Isn’t that what business is all about? Figure out a new way to sell a product, or create something that doesn’t exist, or streamline a process, or identify a solution that your competition has not identified. Creativity is sometimes more easily found in our children than it is in ourselves! Why is this? In that question lies the answer; children are always asking “WHY?”

Creative thinkers are intensely curious, so identify those who crave answers and alternative ways of approaching problems. Look for people who provide new ideas, instead of simply following directions. If they hit a stumbling block, what alternative solutions did they find?


An important trait related to success is resilience. This trait is the ability to bounce back after experiencing adversity. It’s also a trait that reflects a focus and drive within where you will not be derailed by outside circumstances. So how can we start to understand an applicant’s or an employee’s level of resilience? Ask these questions to identify the trait:

  • What experiences do you feel had the most impact in shaping who you are today?
  • What goal have you had in your life that took you the longest to achieve? What did you learn from that experience?
  • Give me an example of a time you made a major sacrifice to achieve an important goal.
  • What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in life? What about in your career?

Not every player on the team needs to embody all of these traits. But identifying and mentoring those who do can start to shape the next generation of future leaders within your organization. These are but a few of the traits to look for as you evaluate those capable of taking your department or company from where it is today to the achievement possible in the future.

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