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The first skill I look for in my employees, according to 11 CEOs

Employees
Figuring out what characteristics make up the best candidate can be a challenge, but these leaders know exactly what they’re looking for, reports Kristin Bahler for Time.

Bahler asked 11 CEOs to name the one skill that’s most important to them when looking for a new hire. Here are their responses.

Skill 1: Resilience

Any employee you hire will face challenges at work, so look for a candidate that displays resilience. To win the game, you’ve got to stay in the game, says Katie Beauchamp, CEO of Birchbox.

Skill 2: Openness to criticism

Hire candidates who “crave constant feedback,” says John Kobs, CEO of Apartment List. The most successful employees are those who frequently seek both criticism and praise, notes Vip Sandhir, CEO of HighGround.

Skill 3: Technical fluency

Even if the position doesn’t require hands-on software development, look for applicants who understand the basics of data science, says Startup Institute CEO Rich DiTieri. He argues that technical fluency is critical across all levels of an organization.

Skill 4: Adaptability

The working world can change fast, so some CEOs said they hire candidates that can easily adapt. These employees operate under a mindset that the organization could change tomorrow, so they’re already prepared when the change comes, says Mike Whitaker, CEO of Idea Gateway.

Skill 5: Passion

If a candidate is passionate about your organization’s mission, they’ll likely approach the position not as a job, but as a chance to make a difference, advises Ted Devine, CEO at Insureon. For many jobs, passion is also the key to excelling at the day-to-day responsibilities, says Girish Mathrubootham, CEO at Freshworks.

Skill 6: Communication

To get a better sense of the candidate’s communication skills, ask applicants how they handle conflicts, stress, and differences of opinion, advises Nicola Corzine, CEO at Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center.

As an alternative, ask them to pitch an idea for a product or project. Although you may not be hiring for a sales position, the better your employees can sell to internal and external stakeholders, the more you can accomplish, says Eric Rea, CEO at Podium.

Skill 7: Innovation

To cultivate a culture of innovation, hire curious candidates, say the CEOs. Employees who consistently seek out knowledge ask better questions and look for creative ways to solve problems, says John Swanciger, CEO at Manta. Curious employees are also better equipped to become self-directed learners who can keep up with a constantly changing industry, says Victor Cho, CEO at Evite

Read more: EAB

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