Skip to main content

What to Look for in Great Employees: Humility

David Lykken
Mar 24, 2015

Since discussing the topic a few weeks ago on my Lykken on Lending radio show, I've really been thinking a lot about the idea of recruiting. Once you have a pool of candidates that qualifies for the position you are trying to fill, how do you make a decision between those candidates? Rather than simply selecting the most skilled from among them, I would recommend considering their attitudes. How they approach their work can make all the difference as to how well they fit in with your culture. And one of the most important attitudes to look for in a candidate is humility.

The job candidate who approaches his work with a sense of humility is both trainable and willing to learn. He will intuitively grasp that he is in a new position with a new team, and he will act accordingly. He will be more willing to make the necessary adjustments than others who are less humble and consequently may think they already know what they're doing. You can never grow until you are willing to acknowledge your need for growth. The person with humility understands this truth and flourishes as a result.

So, how do you determine whether or not a potential candidate has a good amount of humility? There's not any box to check for that. Well, one way to gauge potential employees' sense of humility is by paying attention to the way they answer questions about their skills. If they answer with finality—referring to themselves as "the best ..." or "the top ...," they're probably short on humility. If they emphasis their growth and development, saying things like "I've been working on ..." or "I'm still learning ...," those are signs of humility.

You may want to pay particular attention to the way they answer the "what is your greatest weakness?" question. Obviously, if they say they don't have one, that's not very humble. They're either not telling the truth, or they honestly believe they have no weaknesses. You don't want someone with no weaknesses (because they don't really exist). You want someone who acknowledges his weakness and seeks to improve it. You want someone with humility.


David Lykken is 40-year mortgage industry veteran who has been an owner operator in three mortgage banking companies and a software company. As a former business owner/operator, today David loves helping C-Level executives and business owners achieve extraordinary results via consulting, coaching and communications, with the objective of eliminating corporate dysfunction, establishing and communicating a clear corporate strategy while focusing on process improvement and operational efficiencies resulting in increased profitability. David has been a regular contributor on CNBC and Fox Business News and currently hosts a successful weekly radio program, “Lykken on Lending,” that is heard each Monday at noon (Central Standard Time) by thousands of mortgage professionals. He produces a daily one-minute video called “Today’s Mortgage Minute” that appears on hundreds of television, radio and newspaper Web sites across America. He may be reached by phone at (512) 501-2810 or by e-mail at [email protected]


Mar 24, 2015