Indentifying Fit in Leadership Candidates

So how do you find out who is behind the person you interview?

We have all done it: thought we hired a strong leadership performer, only to be disappointed three or six months after they startToday, candidates have become far more sophisticated in selling themselves, and well-rehearsed when interviewing.  Often, candidates hire someone to prepare not only their CV but also their LinkedIn profile.  So how do you find out who is behind the person you interview?   

First, you need to know what to look for – I call it the 5 C’s of character.

Second, you need to know what questions to ask to find out who the person really is.

And finally, you need to spend more than a few hours interviewing your candidate.  Share a dinner, play a round of golf, attend a fundraising event – these are all great ways to see this person in action.

Let’s look at the 5 C’s of character:


You need to know first and foremost that this person will stick with you when the going gets tough.   Most businesses face difficulties and challenges. You need someone with grit, who can see further ahead than a quarter or two and drive for results no matter what.

  • Question:  Can you describe a difficult time in your current role?  What was your approach?  What was the plan or solution you created?  How did it come out?


With mergers and acquisitions being the new normal, it is tough to determine how consistent someone is if their tenure has been less than three years.  What we look for are people who have consistent patterns of growth, consistent answers to our questions, consistent in how they manage people and stress.  This is often confirmed in reference checks.

  • References: You want references of people they reported to, worked with, and are well regarded in the industry.

Confident Listener

Someone who is curious, asks questions and truly wants to get to know you, your problems, and how to solve them.  Confident people are often calm people, and will be focused on you and your issues and gaining a deep understanding of your situation before offering a solution.  You feel important when speaking with a confident listener.


They don’t take themselves too seriously and tend to remain poised.  They will tell you their feelings and perspective but will not overreact.  Also, a centered person will be aware of the consequences of their behavior, and will focus upon making a positive impact.


Finally, you want to hire a contributor – think of non-profit board stewardship, community contributor, or someone who will do “whatever it takes.”   This person will share examples of how they impacted a business in a positive way.  This person looks for opportunities to build trust, improve situations (not blow them up), and create goodwill.

With 18 years of experience placing candidates in top C-suite positions in the health care technology industry, we can help you find the right candidate who has the decision-making experience and skills to continue the growth and success of your company.  Contact us to start the conversation.