Serial entrepreneur Jim Estill is known for many things. In 2017, he received international media attention for spending $1.5 million to resettle 58 Syrian refugee families in Canada. One of his other claims to fame is investing in over 150 start-up companies – didn’t I say this guy was a serial entrepreneur?

But what I personally remember Estill for was the angle he took when endorsing my book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. He could have picked out anything from pages 1-167, but Estill focused on character. “Roddy speaks about the importance of hiring people with good character traits,” Estill said. “I loved his list of 18 character points and will use them in my future hiring decisions.”

Before I share those 18 traits with you, let’s quickly discuss the practical application of digging into a candidate’s character during your interview process. Each interviewer in your hiring process needs to learn what’s in the person to know if that candidate will fit your culture. And don’t think of character as honesty alone. Honesty is an important character trait, but there’s more to good character than being forthright. Here are the 18 character traits I examine when assessing someone’s complete character:

  1. Prudence: Doesn’t make reckless choices. Lacks prejudice. Keeps things in perspective.
  2. Justice: Doesn’t advantage self, family, or friends at the expense of others.
  3. Fortitude: Demonstrates moral courage. Does the hard thing. Encounters adversity or bears pain with a pleasant disposition.
  4. Temperance: Exhibits self-discipline, emotional control, and thrift. Confronts personal failings; doesn’t excuse them.
  5. Ambition: Is driven by desire to realize personal potential and improve self, your organization, and society.
  6. Work Ethic: Channels action toward a defined purpose. Demonstrates initiative, determination to succeed, and quality workmanship.
  7. Perseverance: Maintains focus and single-minded persistence in spite of obstacles. Exhibits endurance. Takes the long-term view.
  8. Honesty: Practices full disclosure, candor, and fidelity. Is sincere and pure of heart. Pays debts on time.
  9. Kindness: Considers feelings of others. Takes genuine interest in people. Is compassionate.
  10. Responsibility: Is decisive and self-reliant; a dutiful grown child, sibling, spouse, parent, and employee.
  11. Service: Is a good steward and peacemaker. Encourages others. Promotes harmony.
  12. Ongoing Education: Engages in a lifelong process of introspection, searching, self-improvement, learning, and knowledge application.
  13. Enthusiasm: Exudes optimism, cheerfulness, energy, and a belief in being able to influence outcomes.
  14. Humility: Is willing to admit personal faults, apologize, accept criticism, and give credit where credit is due.
  15. Respectfulness: Has self-respect and treats others with courtesy and dignity. Is punctual. Does not use foul language.
  16. Gratitude: Shows appreciation. Counts blessings.
  17. Loyalty: Is dedicated to noble people and high ideals. Has enduring relationships.
  18. Generosity: Charitably interprets the actions of others. Gives with no expectation of return.

After each meeting you have with the candidate, compare what you’ve learned against the 18 character traits. If you don’t have sufficient data on an area, you’ll need to ask the candidate some more questions or test them to ensure you’re hiring someone without a glaring character deficiency.

Thomas Jefferson didn’t tell me this directly, but legend has it he once said, “The second prerequisite for being hired is education and talent to do the job; the first is high character.”

Three tremendous character-based interview questions:

  • Tell me about a recent decision you made that displayed integrity or high character.
  • Tell me about a problem you’ve had with someone you encountered on a regular basis. How did you solve it?
  • Give me an example of the last time you had to exercise self-control to protect a relationship.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & Software Developer Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services and he’s author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer. Jim has been active in the IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak to software developer executives at conferences in the IT industry.