“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.” —Jeff Bezos

In nearly 3 decades of leadership so far, I’ve been through a lot of hiring processes. Attempting to find the right person for a position can be challenging at the best of times. And rarely is it the best of times! 

Hiring the wrong person can have ripples for years in an organization. And it can be very costly.  The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that the cost of a bad hire can exceed 30% of an employees annual cost. I’ve heard the cost can exceed 6 months of their annual cost. In either event, it matters that we get this right.

Over 20 years ago, I heard a 3 part framework for evaluating candidates that resonated with me. Since then, I’ve added two more elements to it that fit my context. You might have run across this framework or one similar to it. It’s called the 5 Cs.

When I’m looking at a candidate for a position, I assess these 5 areas:

  • Character

Even if all the rest of the Cs are a good fit, this is a deal breaker. Character matters, and never more so than in a leadership context. Leaders replicate themselves, and if you have a leader with bad character, you will discover that is what gets replicated. This must be non-negotiable. 

  • Competency

This one might look at first glance like I’m looking for a high competency in a candidate for the position we’re looking to fill, and while that’s great, I’ve also found great success hiring people with great capacity, not just already developed competency. I love working with emerging leaders who have great capacity, and competency so often follows. Does it take more work? Sure – but the reward can be significant for the organization.

  • Chemistry

Does this person fit well with the rest of the team? Is there a good chemistry fit with others around the table? Any candidate must meet with our Elder board and our staff team, and chemistry with others is one of the things we’re looking for as we evaluate. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify, but everyone knows when it’s there (and when it’s not).

  • Calling

This is specific for a church context, but at the church I serve, I want to know that a candidate is called to ministry. If they are not, then they will quit. It’s not for the faint of heart. Ministry can be incredibly difficult and challenging because you are dealing with people – and people can be difficult and challenging sometimes! Knowing that you are called by God to serve in a role makes the difference.

  • Culture

Every organization has a culture. Sometimes it is intentionally designed, and sometimes it is not, but it exists regardless. More than once I’ve seen great candidates who are fits with the other 4 Cs, but this one trips them up. Having a culture fit matters for the long haul, and while it takes longer to evaluate this one, with more in depth conversations asking the right questions, it’s so worth it.

What does the framework you use for hiring look like? What are some of the best practices you have learned to evaluate job candidates?



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