The Most Important Quality I Look for in a New Hire

New hires make a big impact on company culture, productivity and client service. When reviewing resumes and interviewing prospects, there’s one quality we look for no matter the position: CURIOSITY.

Hiring quality employees, particularly in the boutique agency setting, can be challenging. When you’re adding to a small team, new hires make a big impact on company culture, productivity and client service. So, when I’m reviewing resumes and interviewing prospects, there is one quality I look for that is typically the golden sign of a high-potential employee: CURIOSITY.

Naturally curious people are well-suited for agency life for a number of reasons:

  • They are self-motivated to learn and develop new skills. They are often the first to take advantage of professional development perks like continuing education scholarships and access to learning databases like Codeacademy, Harvard Online Learning and com. In the long term, they tend to develop a well-rounded skillset that makes them a Swiss Army employee.
  • They are willing to take on any account. While some may have a strong background in healthcare or financial services, curious employees are willing to pinch hit for any project that comes through the door and needs staff support. These employees take the time to get to know the client’s business and industry, so they can develop and execute a strategic program quickly and effectively.
  • They build strong relationships with staff and clients. Naturally curious people are great at asking thoughtful questions. This skill makes it easy for them to befriend colleagues around the office and build rapport with clients in a short period of time. Those relationships keep employees and clients around longer.
  • They teach me new things. From my experience, curious colleagues like to share what they learn. If they come across a great article, they’ll circulate it among the staff. If they attend a conference, they’ll share those insights at a staff meeting. And – my favorite – they will leave a copy of a great book they just finished in the common area of the office to encourage others to pick it up.
  • They lead to creativity and innovation. Esteemed management author Greg Schinkel once said, “Curiosity is the root of creativity and innovation.” Creative people bring a diverse background and distinct perspective that enables them to connect dots others may not see. In today’s business world, this is essential not only for delivering high-quality results for clients, but for pushing the boundaries of the type of agency you want to be in the future.

For managers or HR leaders, identifying a curious candidate can sometimes be difficult because curiosity isn’t always listed on a resume under special skills. Look for candidates who show their curiosity on paper and in person. Do they have a non-traditional background that’s led them into marketing or communications? Do they ask thoughtful, unexpected questions during the interview process? Do they look at challenges as opportunities and can they pinpoint specific examples of creative problem solving throughout the course of their career to date?

Hire curious people. Curiosity can be infectious.

A version of this article originally appeared on CommPRO.