How To Display The 4 C’s To A Hiring Manager

Thursday, 5. April 2012


In a recent article published in the Harvard Business Review, Douglas R. Conant discussed the importance of effective team building.

Conant, the former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, recommends that the “time to think about building a highly effective team is when you recruit people into the organization in the first place”.

According to Conant, when interviewing prospective employees, he suggests to look for the 4 C’s: competence, character, courage, and collaboration.

Many hiring mangers are already incorporating these ideals into their interview style. Therefore, today it is no longer just about showing that you possess the skills and knowledge that are required to do the job, both on your professionally written resume and at the interview, but you also have to prove that you are a good fit for the company.

Meaning that you will need to show that you will be an integral part of the team.

If you are preparing for an interview in the near future, the following tips will help you to display the 4 C’s to a hiring manager:

#1 – Competence

When it comes to competency-based questions, a hiring manager is looking to find out about your character, your soft skills and your personal attributes. They will ask questions to see how you acted in real life situations, similar to the scenario type interview questions post we did last year.

To prepare for this type of interview you should:

1. Write down a list of your attributes and characteristics, such as, creative problem-solver, or logical thinker.
2. Next, for each attribute think of two real life situations where you used your creative problem-solving abilities, or logical thinking skills to solve a problem.
3. Don’t try to answer what you think the hiring manager is looking for; rather it is better to be honest about the attributes you possess.

#2 – Character

Along with the competence-based questions, hiring managers are also trying to determine your character. They will ask character-discerning questions, which are also similar to the ones above, during the interview process in order to weed out those applicants that may have the proper skill set, but are not the right fit for the team. As in the first C, preparation is key. You may also want to take the following into consideration:

1. If you have not actually experienced the situation the hiring manager has posed to you, don’t make it up; they will know when you are lying. It is better to explain that you have never experienced that type of situation before and describe what you would do if you had.
2. If your only example puts you in a negative light, you will have to make a decision either to use the example from above, or spin the story to a positive by demonstrating that you have learned from your previous mistakes.

#3 – Courage

Hiring managers employ courage-based questions during the interview process in order to determine which applicants possess leadership skills and leadership potential. These type of questions are typically posed in the scenario/situation type format. Some examples include:

1. How would your co-workers describe your leadership style?
2. What are the most important values and ethics that a leader should demonstrate?

You want to be able to display your courage and leadership abilities to the hiring manager; so again, preparation is definitely the key to answering these types of questions.

#4 – Collaboration

Not only are hiring managers assessing your courage with your ability to lead, they are also looking at your ability to collaborate and be part of a team as well. Collaboration-based questions will come in the form of specific examples, usually with some form of problem and resolution tied into it, such as:

Give an example when you were part of a team. How did it go? Did you face any difficulties and disagreements? If so, what was the resolution?

In a perfect world everyone would get along together, in reality, this rarely happens. Unless your only example as being part of a team would make utopians jealous, then give it, but include the ‘This is what I would have done if there were problems’.

If your experience of working in part of a team was the norm, i.e. rife with difficulties and disagreements, then be honest. Focus on how you helped to resolve the conflicts within the group and were able to bring the team project back on track.

Just remember, preparation is key with any interview, especially if your goal during the interview process is to display that you possess the 4 C’s to a hiring manager.

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