What are Your “3 C words” that Define Your Ideal Applicant?

When I asked my 8-year-old neighbor girl to give me three words that began with the letter C that I could use to make good hiring decisions where I work, this is what she said:  Coffee Drinker, Courage and Kind.  Of course my next question I asked was why she picked those three words.  She told me she thinks to work in an office you have to drink coffee, courage was a word that was just on her spelling list, so she thought that was a good one and even after I reminded her that “kind” did not start with a C – she still thought that was a good word for me to use.

When CBE hires employees, we are not necessarily looking for kind, courageous people that drink coffee, but we do have three words in mind when we are searching for that perfect candidate; competency, character and chemistry, our three C’s for the ideal applicant. 

So what do these words really mean?

Question mark sign

  1. Competency: (noun)  The quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually, especially possession of the skill and knowledge required (for a task).

We need our future employees to have the ability and the desire to learn, to grow in their role, to gain experience, and be proficient once we teach them the skills they need.

Some interview questions to pull out competency are: 

How do you deal with complex problems?

Tell us about a time you found a better way to do something?

How do you quantify the results of your job?

  1. Character: (noun) A set of qualities that make somebody distinctive, interesting or attractive especially somebody’s qualities of mind and feeling.

We need our employees to have spirit, a personality and a disposition that will make consumers want to talk to them or co-workers want to work beside them.

Some interview questions to pull out character are: 

What three (3) words best describe you.

Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

Would you rather be the best … or do the best?

  1. Chemistry: (noun) The spontaneous reaction of two people to each other, especially a mutual sense of attraction or understanding.

We look for employees who mesh with the core values of our company and fit in with our fast-paced, growing office.  We realize that we are interviewing employees for a good match, but understand the applicant is also interviewing us to understand if CBE is a good fit for them.

Some interview questions to pull out chemistry are: 

What are your team player qualities?  What is your role on the team?

What things cause friction for you?

Tell us about the kind of work environment where you do your best work?


Selecting the best candidate for a role is by no means an easy task and one that our company takes very seriously.  We analyze our great hires and pat ourselves on the back when we bring those great employees into our company.  We do an even deeper dive into those not so good hires and try to learn from our choices.  Maybe we need to put a pot of coffee in the interview room and see who takes a cup.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s