The 4 Cs: Our key to hiring an awesome team

The 4 Cs: Our Key to Hiring an Awesome Team

Ever hear the expression, “‘A’ people hire ‘A’ people, and ‘B’ people hire ‘C’ people”?

In other words, an ‘A’ person isn’t looking to surround themselves with people less skilled, and thus, less threatening to their success. Instead, they’re looking to work with people at the top of their game—people who may even be more capable than themselves.

‘A’ people believe that gathering a team of other ‘A’ people is critical to cultivating a positive, creative and innovative work culture. This culture sets the tone for how we think, behave and collaborate, and ‘A’ people believe this culture is key for an organization seeking to achieve next-level success.

As Setser and Morris (2015) so eloquently put it, “Culture is the water an organization swims in” (p.7).

Because culture is so pervasive, good hiring practices that bring ‘A’ people to the team are vital building blocks in gathering an open, adaptable workforce driven to finding new ways of thinking, doing and becoming.

Why it’s essential to hire “A” people

As a teaching and learning centre, it’s critical we hire ‘A’ team members who can navigate a steadily shifting environment. Because our learners are constantly evolving, we must strive to stay ahead, remain cutting edge and be able to lead the way in collaboration and innovation.

This fast-paced environment can be overwhelming for some. However, for those who are a good fit for our team—for those ‘A’ people we seek—it’s exhilarating.

For our team, ‘A’ people are:

  • Highly adaptable, which is especially advantageous in our face-paced, ever-evolving field of education
  • Inherently innovative, which creates new opportunities for growth, invigoration and expansion
  • Humble team players, which promotes harmony (specifically when members attribute project success to the entire team, not only themselves), and greater employee retention. As Steve Jobs said, “When you get enough ‘A’ players together… they really like working with each other” (Molify, n.d.)

The murky waters of new hires

Each new hiring process allows us to add another great member to our team, which is exciting, but equally daunting.

There are several reasons for this, with the top three being:

  1. The Great Resignation (HSU, 2021) – with so many people exiting jobs and looking for new opportunities since the pandemic, it has created a massive influx of potential new applicants looking for work – which means a lot of time and energy on our end to sift through quality candidates.
  2. Competitive job market – It’s an ‘employee’s market’ out there! On the other side of that influx, there are tons of new openings in many different industries, meaning applicants can entertain multiple offers at once. So, we need to work hard to stay competitive in the current job market.
  3. Organizational investment – Each new hire means a lot of time, care and energy devoted to training and onboarding. Throughout this trial period, it’s unknown if this member will truly be a good fit for our team, or whether we’ll be a good fit for them too!

Expanding on the third point, when the only information we have about potential hires comes from a resume and a short interview, it is difficult to get a full sense of who they are and how they will work within our team.

Not only are new hires expected to fill an immediate workflow need within an organization by drawing on their various qualifications, but they must also maintain an ability—and a willingness—to contribute to and leverage from a broader network of diverse skills and knowledge.

To fulfill both, good candidates need to possess core competencies, interpersonal and other intangible qualities that help them:

  • Integrate with our existing team
  • Embrace our core team values
  • Embody the “ingredients for success” that makes our team so special

How do you discover ‘A’ people?

As mentioned above, in that list of applications and brief interview, it can be tough to get a sense of how someone will fit into an existing organization, no matter their credentials.

So how do you recognize ‘A’ people when you see them?

At CTLI, we have a few tricks up our sleeve—well, four to be exact—on how to make sure you know when you’ve got an ‘A’ person on your hands.

We call them the 4 Cs.

What are the 4 Cs?

When we review application packages, we use a rubric approach (not surprised, are you?). Along with evaluating a candidate’s required skills and qualifications, we include the 4 Cs, which is an expansion of The 3 Cs of Effective Hiring (Suderman, 2021).

  1. Competency: What skills does this individual currently possess and which ones will they need to learn on the job? Will they hit the ground running, or will they need some mentorship until they are trained? Sometimes it depends on what the job is like and on the team’s current capacity, but we need to understand how capable the candidate is in the position they’re applying for.
  2. Character: What will a quick Google search reveal about this person’s interests, passions, and contributions to the world around them? How do they engage with social media? Do they have connections in the community showcasing their engagement? How they act and interact in these spaces can be very telling.
  3. Chemistry: Does this individual seem like they enjoy working in teams? Do they give others credit for collaboration or take the credit for themselves? Do they seem adaptable with others in various situations? It’s important you’re not hiring a “lone wolf”, and that the new employee will celebrate both individual and collective successes.
  4. Capacity:Has this person demonstrated their ability to work on (and prioritize) multiple projects with different stakeholders simultaneously? Are they able to achieve good work/life balance, and are they comfortable communicating their needs (or delegating) when nearing their threshold? Capacity can mean many things, including mindset, knowledge, skills—and the ability to act or understand/appreciate the importance of communication when making decisions, as well as awareness in the consequences of actions.

An example

Though our hiring rubric is much more in-depth than the example below, for the sake of simplicity, let’s imagine what three separate candidate’s score cards might look like based on the 4 Cs.

The lowest score possible is 0 points and the highest score possible is 16 points.

Competency Character Chemistry Capacity
Candidate One 4 1 2 4
Candidate Two 3 3 4 1
Candidate Three 3 3 2 3

Though each candidate is tied at eleven points… who would you hire?

The 4 Cs ensure you're hiring ‘A’ people

As a centre that supports teaching and learning, emerging technology, and many diverse initiatives at the college, our team needs to be flexible, ultra-responsive, collaborative, and adaptive to change.

Our ‘A’ people are the reason we’re able to stay ahead and offer our learners relevant, innovative experiences. So, protecting the quality of our team, and our hiring process, is essential.

Check out our great (and always evolving) team at CTLI!

We’re a group of passionate folks who are always looking to create and refine awesome projects.


Hsu, A. (2021, June 24). As the pandemic recedes, millions of workers are saying ‘i quit’. National Public Radio.

Molify. (n.d). Steve Jobs – Building a team of A players [Video]. YouTube.

Setser, B., & Morris, H. (2015, April 15). Building a culture of innovation in higher education: Design and practice for leaders (p. 7). Educause.

Suderman, J. (2021, August 26). The three C’s of an effective hire. Suderman Solutions.

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