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Talent Management Recruiting & Hiring

New Qualities Candidates Should Possess in 2016

December 14, 2015
8 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


The Quantified Self movement is enormously popular in an increasingly data-driven world. More than ever before, people are driven by self-improvement and looking for ways to quantify their efforts. 

Self-tracking devices and applications make it possible to measure things like calorie intake, spending patterns, and sleep patterns. There’s even apps that track your happiness. This trend in personal accountability was bound to be explored by corporate entities eventually and, with the emerging field of “people analytics,” that time is now.

There seems to be a relationship between people with measurable self-improvement and the highest-quality performers. HR professionals are realizing the value in hiring these kinds of employees and how it changes their recruiting and talent management methods. It’s no longer enough to be qualified. Hiring trends will start to lean towards individuals who can provide quantifiable results of their daily lives and it starts with finding and developing employees with qualities like: 


      Self-improvement driven

      Personal accountability

Of course, these aren’t the easiest things to figure out from a resume or a short interview. Here are some ways to try!

How to Recruit and Develop Self-Aware Employees

When employees lack self-awareness it can negatively impact their individual performance, as well as disrupt team effectiveness. A study done by Harvard Business Review earlier this year shows that of the 58 teams observed, the ones with non-self-aware individuals made worse decisions, coordinated less, and showed a lack of conflict management. The study sheds light on the gap between employees’ perception of their self-awareness and their actual level of self-awareness. 

So, how do HR professionals know how to effectively produce self-aware employees, particularly new hires? 

HBR points out that personality assessments of the past typically gauge self-knowledge, which is important, but unreliable if employees don’t have accurate self-awareness. Hiring professionals can work to develop employee self-awareness by:

      Using tools that involve performance feedback. Tinypulse offers real-time surveys that allow employees to provide feedback about their job performance. This kind of tool gives HR professionals the chance to take corrective steps to fix performance and in turn, realign employees’ self-awareness.

      Relate it back to their personal job success. Employees are more motivated and open to learning when it directly affects their career development. Relating performance feedback to how it impacts their future will put into perspective the skills they need to solidify and develop to get to a certain point in their career.

      Invest in self-development training. Self Management Group specializes in talent management solutions and offers a Management Team Assessment that examines individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses and how it affects the team building process. This tool makes it so that HR professionals can show employees what they’re doing right, where they need to improve, and how it relates to the team dynamic.

Awareness has to be established in order to improve. HR professionals should act now, especially with new hires, to start developing more self-aware workers. 

HR professionals need to be self aware before they can preach self awareness to their employees. Here are some questions to ask yourself (Below.) Once you have answered the questions, ask a colleague to answer the questions about you as well. Do their answers match up with your answers? 

      What inspires you?

      What are your strengths?

      What are your weaknesses?

      How do you handle criticism?

      How do you communicate with others?

Now flip it on your employees, have them answer these questions. Once they are done evaluate your techniques and compatibility to enhance employee awareness, as well as work productivity. 


CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngEmployees with a lack of self-awareness take a negative hit to individual performance.


Self awareness is like a muscle, the more you work at it, and the earlier you work at it the stronger and more developed that muscle becomes. Dive in early and exercise your self awareness, by evaluating your communication techniques. There is no expiration date on improving yourself.

How to Recruit and Develop Self-Improvement Driven Employees

Think of the classic 1983 film “Terms of Endearment” Shirley MacLaine plays a hard to please (some might say overbearing) mother who wants nothing but the best for her daughter (a young Debra Winger) The movie chronicles the lives of both the mother and the daughter with a common theme, hanging on, and constant self recognition/improvement.

Incorporating self-improvement into your workplace may not be a theme as seamlessly weaved into your workplace, but it’s certainly worth a shot.  

It’s a gray area to seek out self-improvement driven people, whether it be potential new hires or current employees. People have always been hired based on qualities like their skills, experience, and cultural fit. Interviewers don’t ask candidates if they eat healthy or work out regularly, but research shows that those types of people are higher performers. In fact, according to a study published in Population Health Management, employees who:

  • Eat healthy regularly are 25% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Workout for 30 minutes, at least three times a week, are 20% more likely to have higher productivity.
  • Eat healthy and workout regularly have 27% lower absenteeism and 11% higher job performance than their obese peers. 


CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01.pngImproving your health can actually raise your job performance. Read about it, right here:


So, how do HR professionals find and develop these kind of employees?  

Here are ways to seek out self-improvement driven candidates which don’t require directly asking those “gray area” questions:

      Employee Referral Program- Set up an enticing employee referral program to bring in high performers. Make the process simple and straightforward and recognize employees that you want to make top referrers. They should mirror the characteristics you seek to find in their referrals. Use best-in-practice referral techniques to maximize the influence it has on your employees.

      Strategic Interview Questions- During the interview process, ask questions that reveal their work ethic and motivation. For example, one of the most common interview questions is, “What are your strengths?” If they don’t list a quality that relates to self-improvement or motivation, they probably don’t have it. Find ways to gauge their personal self-improvement by asking them exploratory questions about their personal life, what their interests are, and what they do in their free time. Look for things that indicate they value self-improvement like training for a marathon, doing volunteer work, or furthering their education.

      Explore Their Social Media- If they have social media accounts, explore them to find indicators of self-improving behaviors. What kinds of content do they like to share on Facebook and Twitter? If you can view their status and photos, are there any significant events that show their self-improvement? Check their LinkedIn account and look for keywords like self-starter, self-motivated, strong work ethic, and driven.

Using these techniques can bring in the kind of driven individuals your company needs. Be proactive and strategic in seeking them out. On another note, it’s important to acknowledge the benefits of corporate wellness programs that encourage current employees to make better health choices. Invest in their wellness so they can invest in their work.

Personal Accountability

What does it mean to have personal accountability in the workplace? Personal accountability can be chalked up to many different defining aspects within the workplace chiefly; work ethic, character authenticity, and ingenuity. If an employee can’t stand behind the work they put out, they certainly can’t stand for the company brand. 

“Employees taking responsibility for their actions and behavior is a major factor when it comes to workplace ethics. Employees are expected to show up on scheduled workdays, arrive on time and put in an honest effort while on the job. Accountable employees admit when things go wrong and work toward a resolution while remaining professional.”- TriNet Newsletter.

Traits of accountable employees include: 

      Ownership - taking responsibility for their actions

      Consistency - doing the job correctly, with little error and attention to detail

      Presence - not just showing up to work, but being mentally present and productive 

Self-awareness, self-improvement and personal accountability are all key qualities to look for in new hires. Remember to look deeper than a candidate's qualifications, look at their basic approach to new challenges, their attitude, and their qualities. Sure it seems vague, but identifying a person who possesses the tools to better themselves could be a solid win for your company. 

Use these tips to help recruit the kind of employees that will perform better and last longer with your company. Doing so can save you a lot of time and money down the road. 


Related Readings: 

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