Customer service is a very, very demanding job that few people are cut out for. As a hiring manager or small business owner, even the best of training can’t turn a non-CS superstar into the customer service rep of your dreams. Hiring the best candidates from the start is the best move you can make. This requires doing extensive background checks, in-depth interviews, following up on recommendations and trusting your gut. However, having a checklist of must-haves for CS reps is the ace up your sleeve.

Here are some of the top skills every CS rep needs. When hiring, make sure the candidates either have these skills ready to go, or you can easily equip them with a little training:

• A genuine desire to serve. This is an innate characteristic nobody can teach. Either a person has an authentic desire to provide excellent customer service and make people happy—or they don’t. You should be able to gauge their level of excitement in an interview. Just be wary of false excitement. Some candidates are so hungry for a job that they can put on a great show.

• A desire to learn. Whether your CS reps need to keep up with the latest CRM technology or cloud software, or they need to have a knack for keeping pace with a constantly evolving set of products, they should be eager to learn new things.

• Taking initiative. There’s a thin line between being quick to take initiative and just completely taking over (and ignoring the directions of their manager!).

Give them a scenario to discuss or act out in the interview that should encourage them to make a judgment call when there’s no supervisor around to depend on. For example, what would they do if the only manager just left for an hour-long lunch break, and a high-spending client walks in and immediately wants to buy five full outfits—but the only correct sizes left are on the mannequins (which are dressed by corporate standards)?

• Punctuality. It’s amazing how few people are punctual these days. It’s not just a sign of respect and professionalism, but also tells you just how dependable they’ll be. In customer service, there’s usually other employees relying on each other to be punctual so they can take breaks or clock out for the day. If a candidate isn’t on time for their interviews, you can bet they won’t be on time for work.

• Tech savvy. You shouldn’t expect customer service reps to be gurus at all the tech at your company (there are so many options!), but they should have some similar background or be able to quickly learn. Can’t tell? Give them a mini tutorial and gauge how quickly they pick up new skills. Just keep in mind they might be especially nervous being watched, so go gently on this pressure test.

• Kindness. Being truly kind is a must for anyone working with your customers. This is something you can pick up on with gut instinct, and you can bet your customers will be doing the same. Kindness goes hand in hand with empathy and high moral values. It’s something you can’t go without in business.

• Optimism. Pessimism in customer service will drag down everyone’s morale. Steer clear of candidates with dry or sarcastic attitudes, and keep an eye out for signs of negativity. They might have great skills otherwise, but it’s not worth compromising your business.

More and more businesses are prioritizing finding candidates that fit in with company culture rather than just candidates who look good on paper. Make a list of the attributes you want in a customer service rep, make them aggressive but achievable, and don’t stray from them. You deserve a CS team who reflects your goals and mission.

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This content is written by SF