5 Attributes To Look for in Recruits That Improve Retention

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Posted by: David Garcia August 03, 2021

Companies invest immense amounts of time and money into hiring employees. Building and retaining an exceptional team is foundational to a company’s long-term success. As such, resources spent on recruitment are worthwhile when you consider the ultimate goal of identifying and hiring the best candidates for any given role.

But just because an applicant looks perfect on paper, what assurance do you have that they intend to stick with your organization for the long haul?

Organizations need a proactive approach to employee retention to reduce the frustration and cost of high turnover. And a significant part of that starts with the recruitment process.

Here are five attributes to look for in potential employees that can improve retention down the line.

1. Company Culture Fit

Voluntary job turnover is on the rise. If these retention patterns continue, studies show that more than 1 in 3 workers will voluntarily quit by 2023, costing employers substantial money in the process.

Organizations can minimize turnover by asking the right questions in an interview. Your human resources team needs to develop strategies that can effectively determine a candidate’s fit for the company culture. Depending on the answers, the data can indicate if employees will stay for the long haul.

While often thought of as secondary to the role, company culture is an instrumental part of drawing talent to a business and retaining them. If an individual has values that align with the organization’s mission, they are likely to feel happier and more fulfilled on the job.

Additionally, candidates who feel a true sense of community with their coworkers are more likely to build healthy, effective working relationships. So ask in the recruiting process, what does the prospective employee value in a workplace?

Ensuring these priorities align with your organization’s culture can make a huge difference in employee job satisfaction and retention.

2. Experience and Willingness to Work Remotely

With recent events fueling the increased adoption of remote work, it appears the shift away from the traditional office may be here to stay. The functionality and availability of online conferencing tools like Zoom and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams mean that even when workers return to the office, it may only be part-time.

According to a recent study by Accenture, 83% of workers surveyed favored a hybrid work model that allows them to work remotely for a substantial amount of time. The most common reasons respondents cited for wanting the option to work remote included safety, quality of life, and freedom — all qualities it’s hard to put a price on.

Embracing remote and hybrid work models also has benefits for employers. The same Accenture study found that “63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a productivity anywhere workforce model.” Offering remote and hybrid work options may make it easier to attract the best talent, as well as potentially decreasing overhead expenses like rent and utilities.

Not all employees thrive working remotely. Some struggle with accountability, while others miss the camaraderie and visibility to leadership a traditional office can provide. If you’re considering hiring for remote or hybrid work positions, it can be beneficial to prioritize applicants with prior success working in a remote work environment. A candidate with experience and enthusiasm for remote or hybrid work might be the right person for the job.

3. Desire to Learn

Even if a candidate doesn’t have all the skills required for a job, recruiting them is worth the investment if they have a strong desire to learn and grow within your organization. You can teach promising individuals how to develop their craft, but it is much harder to engage people in the process if they feel they already know everything.

Through training and professional development opportunities, employees can gain the skills needed to excel in their roles. If your company has strategies to foster this type of education, those with a strong desire to learn will be quick to sign up and gain relevant skills. Ultimately, your company will reap the benefits of this eagerness.

Additionally, ongoing educational opportunities will retain employees by enhancing their engagement. It will provide a sense of growth in their careers.

Increasing job satisfaction by offering opportunities to learn will help you retain employees.

4. Desire to Contribute

Seek out potential hires who are looking for more than just a paycheck. If someone is just looking for any old job, that person is less likely to make meaningful contributions to your organization. The likelihood of retaining employees, in this case, is a gamble.

Of course, everyone has basic needs to meet, and a company’s responsibility is to pay employees a living wage and provide support, such as health care and time off. However, your organization should actively pursue employees eager to dedicate time and energy.

During the hiring process, inquire about how job seekers were leaders at previous places of employment. Even if not in a leadership role, how did they improve the organization and inspire others? What training opportunities did they pursue?

An employee excited to invest energy in company projects and suggest improvements is more likely to be a solid addition to the team. And when they see that your team is willing to take in suggestions and their contributions, they are more likely to feel happy in their place of work, thus furthering employee retention.

5. Longevity in Previous Roles

It takes innovative strategies for recruiters to identify ideal characteristics for employee retention during an interview. However, there are other essential things you can learn by simply looking over an applicant’s resume.

A resume can speak volumes during the recruitment process if you know the critical indicators. The document itself can tell you a lot about the potential hire, including:

  • How they see themselves
  • What they believe are their biggest strengths
  • The person’s ability to communicate clearly
  • Their capacity to categorize and prioritize
  • How they advocate for themselves

Plus, a resume provides a context for why a person is applying to your company within their overall career trajectory.

But out of all of this helpful information, there is a critical element that can predict an employee’s retention potential for retention at your company: dates of previous employment.

Does the candidate show growth and development within a business over multiple years? For example, someone may join a company in an entry-level role and leave it five years later in a leadership position. This upward movement demonstrates that the employee can persevere and carve out a path for themselves within your organization.

Alternatively, if you see many short stints of employment at various companies, this should be a red flag for hiring them. While there are legitimate reasons folks may leave a position, a documented pattern of this behavior means it’s a habit. What would make your business so different that you can retain that employee long-term?

When in doubt, ask the potential employee directly about short periods of employment. Allow them to explain the situation. There is always a chance the reasons are legitimate, and you can learn a lot about a person’s character in their explanation.


Recruiting for retention is difficult, as so many factors in employee satisfaction and turnover are unpredictable. If you focus on these attributes during hiring, you have a better chance of hiring talent that will grow with your business.

Focus on finding the best talent and leave the rest to ScoutLogic. We have top-notch software to conduct large-scale background checks, so you can rest assured the talent you recruit is fully vetted. Contact our team today to get started!

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