Leadership Retreats Resources

How to Evaluate and Hire Top Talent

October 20, 2020
Lead Organizations
Harrison Earp

I made a bad hire.

It was only a few weeks into their employment when I started to realize I had not set up the organization or this individual for success through my selection. I wanted to give them the best chance to succeed and began the long and arduous process of coaching, mentoring and performance management. I was drained, they weren’t happy and it was taxing on others who had to pull extra weight.

He wasn’t a bad person. On the contrary, I really liked him and he had a great heart. But as Jim Collins, business researcher and author says, he was in the wrong seat, on the wrong bus.

I now view myself as the gatekeeper for our team and organization.

Through hiring and supervising a team over that past several years, I have experienced the benefits of hiring top talent and the consequences of poor hiring decisions. The effects of hiring a “bad fit” can be widespread and consume a substantial amount of time and energy, damage the organizational culture, and affect the bottom line.

Selecting top talent is critical for creating high-performing teams and organizations that will generate greater results.

If you are hiring employees for your organization or selecting individuals to work on a project, you have likely felt the weight of making the right selection(s). 

Through understanding the Four C’s of Talent* — Competency, Character, Chemistry and Calling — you can minimize the chances of hiring a “bad fit” and maximize your ability to select top talent.

The 4 C's of Talent

01. Competency
02. Character
03. Chemistry
04. Calling

Evaluating Candidate Competency

Competency is simply the ability of a candidate to perform job responsibilities. This is only
one component of selecting top talent. I learned early on in my career that hiring solely based on competency can be incredibly detrimental to your organization. 

When determining the competency of a candidate, I ask myself these questions: 

  • Does this individual have the ability to do the work successfully and efficiently? 
  • If they lack specific skills, do they have the ability to learn the needed skills effectively?

At the end of the day, if the candidate cannot accomplish the work or is unable to learn, he or she is no longer in the running for the position. If he or she is still a candidate, continue to evaluate that person holistically, utilizing the remaining components of Talent.

Evaluating Candidate Character

Character is incredibly important and is one of the components of talent that I prioritize. Of course all four components of Talent are important, but I just won’t settle with character. Simply put, character is about being someone of integrity, which means you are who you say you are and do what you say you will do.

Understanding your organization’s definition of leadership or expectations is helpful as Character can be defined in numerous ways. We utilize five principles from author Mark Miller’s Lead Self curriculum to define the character we desire: Think Others First, Expect the Best, Accept Responsibility, Respond with Courage and Hunger for Wisdom.

Past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior. Utilize questions and scenarios that evaluate past or current behavior and stay away from hypotheticals. Use multiple questions and examples to better understand what might be a trend versus a one-off experience. Ask follow-up questions to understand whether or not the candidate learned from the experience or adjusted behavior to perform better in the future.

Evaluating Candidate Chemistry

Strong team Chemistry is what takes the diverse group of people and allows them to function as a team to achieve greater results. Team Avaya, the multi-year world championship adventure racing team that WinShape Teams studied, is an example of this. In our documentary about this team, prior to the 2018 World Championships, a teammate was injured and unable to compete. Team Avaya was incredibly selective on who they asked to fill-in based on how well they would complement and fit with the team culture. Spoiler alert: They went on to win the 2018 World Championships. 

Hiring based on Chemistry or “fit” can be a bit tricky and is often misunderstood. I have heard this component of Talent misrepresented and sometimes corrupted to mean hiring people that are similar. But we know that high-performing teams are made up of diverse people who often bring differing perspectives and skills, which is critical for those teams to produce greater results.

There are multiple aspects of Chemistry that should be analyzed when evaluating a candidate’s fit:

  • Will they thrive within the organizational policies and culture? 
  • Have they demonstrated the required level of emotional intelligence to interact effectively with others and add to the culture? 
  • If you are building a team, will they add to the strength, health and fulfillment of the other team members?

Evaluating Candidate Calling

Calling is the attraction to a line of work that engages a combination of skills, gifts, and passions and ultimately is what will impact fulfillment. At an even higher level, you want candidates that are naturally aligned with the organizational purpose and mission.

Calling can be easily overlooked when hiring due to checking off all the other boxes. I have personally made the decision to hire even though the candidate did not have a strong calling to the position and found myself refilling the position within months. When someone is not drawn to the type of work or working outside of their passions and gifts, they will just be waiting for an opportunity to open up somewhere else.

Your Next Hire

After experiencing the difficulties of making a bad hire, I committed to integrating the 4 C’s throughout our hiring process. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. 

Utilize questions and scenarios that evaluate past or present behavior and stay away from hypotheticals.

I have found the 4 C’s — Competency, Character, Chemistry and Calling — as an effective and helpful framework in which to evaluate candidates. Developing a high-performance organization and high-performing teams requires top talent. Utilizing the four components of talent to make hiring decisions has helped me better “guard this house” and effectively screen for Top Talent.

How will you start hiring and screening candidates based on the 4 C’s?

*The three C’s of Talent (Competency, Character and Chemistry) were adopted by WinShape Foundation from Chick-fil-A’s corporate talent selection criteria. Calling was additionally adopted by the WinShape Foundation from Regent University’s Four C’s of Christian Leadership.

Interview Questions to Use with Your Future Candidates

Hiring new team members is one of the most important and stressful things you can do in your role. To help you navigate the hiring process, we put together potential interview questions for you to use with candidates to ensure you land top-notch team members.