There is a single phrase I love hearing from students. When these words leave a student’s mouth, I just want to jump over my desk and hug them. And I am not a hugger.
I love it when a student says “I just love to write.” The phrase indicates to me that the student and I have found the right fit. We were meant to work together.
Despite how much I adore this phrase, it’s not a reason to hire someone. It seems like too often, student editors hire staffers who just “love to write” or “need a job.” While these are reasons to hire someone, they aren’t the best ones and they certainly aren’t the only ones.
Do you want to make good hires that fit well in your newsroom and do great work? Of course you do! Here are six traits that you can look for in a potential staffer.
1. An enthusiastic demeanor
The staffer may be nervous when applying for or interviewing for the job, but they still should seem enthusiastic to work for your pubs. If they don’t seem excited, it’s probably a red flag that they’re just looking for any job they can get.
2. A growth mindset
Hire staffers who express a desire to improve themselves, regardless of what area of the newsroom that improvement fits in. People who want to grow will work hard to do so.
3. A willingness to learn
Avoid hiring heroes. Potential staffers who think they already know everything and want to grace you with their skills will quickly become problematic. Hire staffers who are excited about learning new things.
4. An assertive attitude
A mentor once told me that there is an important distinction between being aggressive and assertive. You want staffers who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions, but you don’t want those who go out purposely trying to make people mad.
5. An understanding of bigger picture
The best staffers are the ones whose values align with your publication’s mission. Ask yourself if the potential staffer understands the mission and is interested in helping further it.
6. A good fit
Don’t underestimate your gut instincts when hiring a new staffer. Does this person seem like a good fit for the staff? Does (s)he seem like someone who would meld well with the rest of the team?
I was listening to an Amy Porterfield podcast where she said, when it comes to hiring, if it’s not a “hell yes,” then the answer should be “no.” In other words, don’t hire someone who you don’t feel confident about or aren’t excited to work with.
If you look for these six traits in potential staffers, you will make more strategic hires. Having these traits doesn’t mean the staffer will be a perfect fit every time, but they remove some of the guess work from the hiring process.