Job candidates run the gamut in terms of the qualities they possess. But some are more important to HR managers than others. Here are a few specific qualities HR managers look for in candidates, so you’ll know what to emphasize during your job search and interview.


Turnover can be costly for employers. Studies have found it costs 16 percent of an annual salary to replace a low-paying employee and 20 percent for midrange positions. So HR managers tend to seek employees with patience and endurance and who can “ride out the storm” without jumping ship. In other words, they look for candidates who are in it for the long haul and who are willing to stick with the company even during a rough spot.


Having strong character is equally important for HR managers. Not only are these individuals honest, responsible and dependable, they can positively impact the company’s brand and improve their reputation within their industry. Having trustworthy employees reduces friction and can even boost morale.

Multitasking Skills

One strategy some companies take is hiring fewer employees who can multitask rather than hiring several employees who are only skilled at one or two tasks. This approach allows them to make the most of their manpower. So HR managers will almost always give preference to a candidate who is agile and can move seamlessly from task to task. 

A Positive Attitude

Office supply retailer, Quill Corporation, highlights some of the advantages of employees having a positive attitude in the workplace. Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Creates a positive environment
  • Helps achieve goals and career success
  • Reduces stress
  • Employees are in better health and take fewer sick days
  • Improves productivity
  • Better able to overcome challenges

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. HR managers almost always prefer a candidate with a positive attitude over a negative thinker. If this is something you struggle with, it’s wise to work on changing and improving your attitude. Check out this post from Psychology Today for actionable advice on becoming more positive.

There’s a lot HR managers look for in candidates. But the points mentioned here are usually at the top of their list. Recognizing these qualities and striving to improve in these areas should help your job search and make it easier to impress prospective employers.

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