Hiring top talent employees has always been important. A talented team can be more efficient, more creative, better leaders, and even the foundation of a business plan. But now that COVID has changed all of the dynamics of employer/employee relations let’s revisit how you can build that wildly successful team for your company.

Look for Passion

This is often the advice that gets more eyeball rolls than anything, but I stand by it being rule #1. And here’s why:

Top employees know passion is a competitive advantage. They engage better; they learn more; they get excited. However, according to the Deloitte Shift Index Survey, a whopping 87% of employees don’t have a passion for what they do. The vast majority of employees – tragically – come to work, grind through the day, and have no energy or excitement to share with others. They are the ones who say, “Thank God It’s Friday,” because they are happy the week is over and can’t wait to dash out the door.

In some cases, these employees even drain employee morale by sharing their negativity toward the job. Therefore, my first goal when interviewing someone is to see whether they light up when describing the type of work we will be doing. You can bet those are the ones who will use passion to their advantage and the benefit of the team.

Passionate employees love their job. I subscribe to the adage that “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And passionate employees understand that, as well. They walk into work with a smile because they know they are about to have a great day. And when you add more people with that spirit to your team, the result surprises no one: your team becomes more fun, their relationships with their jobs become more rewarding, and productivity soars. It’s a recipe for success.

To gauge a person’s passion, try asking them what truly excites them. Have them tell you what their favorite hobby is or their most memorable trip. Then ask them if they’ve ever had a moment like that at work. Let their reaction be your guide in how much passion they can find in their job.

Embrace Emotional Intelligence

A U.C. Berkeley study found that emotional intelligence was four times better at predicting a person’s success than their actual intelligence. And 90% of a company’s top performers have high emotional intelligence. So how can you identify emotional intelligence in a job applicant? Look for these things.

Self-Awareness. Self-aware people understand that their decisions and reactions impact others. They are skilled at doing a personal inventory to identify the emotional strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table. They know that making a sudden decision during a highly emotional moment may lead to negative consequences, and they identify when actions and words can be helpful.

Self-Regulation. Where self-awareness is the plan, self-regulation is the execution. It’s when someone identifies (through self-awareness) what the emotion is and what impact it will have, and then learns how to control that emotion rather than allowing the feeling to control them.

Empathy. Those with high emotional intelligence also demonstrate a high degree of empathy. They can identify how others are feeling or what they are going through, and they can put themselves in the other person’s shoes. They don’t need to be told how someone is feeling necessarily; they read verbal and nonverbal cues.

Social Skills. High emotional intelligence also brings action in social situations. Does a colleague need some motivation? An emotionally intelligent person not only identifies it; she does something about it. People with excellent social skills know what to say and when to say it. They communicate their messages and ideas in ways that others can understand.

To determine whether an applicant brings emotional intelligence to the team, ask them about situations where they may have influenced or motivated a colleague in the past. What prompted the situation? How did you know they could use your inspiration? What was the result?

Pick Team Players

The best additions to a team are those that know how to be team players. Collaboration is critical in any company, and team players know how to do it. They listen to coworkers, respect ideas, and strive to do whatever they can to get the team to the goal. They look internally at how they can be part of the bigger picture and be an asset.

When interviewing a candidate, look for keys that illustrate they understand their role in the group. Ask questions that allow them to describe what role they would play, and how or when they would go to others with questions. Flexibility is also crucial. Not all projects go as planned, and team players know how to be flexible while still focusing on the task at hand. Ask for examples of how they were part of a team at a previous employer, and what made the team valuable.

Finally, once a new hire is on board, I also advocate a mentorship program. Mentors will have a direct line to the new hire and will spot areas where the mentee could use some help. Mentorship programs also help mentees quickly become a part of the team while giving them direct contact – the mentor – for any questions. And yet another benefit: mentors and mentees both grow from those relationships, and they tend to create loyalty to a company. These are all things that employers and employees could benefit from post-pandemic.

Now, Go Forth and Conquer!