Hiring managers often want to know: Are there magic questions we ask prospective hires to zero in on the right candidate for a role?

The answer is, sort of…

Nothing about exceptional recruiting is magic, per se. It mostly comes down to hard work and determination. We proactively and tirelessly seek out candidates (we don’t wait until they come to us). Then, we have meaningful conversations with them. Conversations that go well beyond surface-level small talk. 

These conversations are where the questions come in. But rather than relying on a rote line of inquiry, we reference the four Cs of hiring: 

  1. Culture, 
  2. Circumstances, 
  3. Core skills, and  
  4. Compromise.

It’s only when a candidate meets the requirements of all four Cs for a particular job that we feel confident in the placement. And that you get the new hire you need for your team. 

The High Stakes of Hiring and Why You Must Get it Right 

It’s our pleasure to make you look good by delivering the best possible candidate to augment your team. Because here’s the (harsh) reality: If hiring goes awry, it tends to reflect poorly on the hiring manager. You risk a poor review, or even the loss of a bonus. 


Because the wrong hire can drain employee morale, for one. Especially if that hire doesn’t do the work they were hired to do, forcing existing team members to pick up the slack. But also, putting an inappropriate person in place can negatively affect the timeline of a project, resulting in lost ROI and/or overdrawn budgets. 

Imagine your department is spearheading the rollout of a new accounting system. It’s a huge and technical project, so you bring on a contractor to fill a gap in your team. If this person doesn’t pull their weight, you could pass your planned go-live date. Then, the jury’s out on whether you get approval for additional budget to finish out the job. 

This stuff really happens. Now, let’s explore why bad candidates get hired in the first place. 

Where Recruiting Goes Off the Rails 

Depending on who’s doing the hiring for your company, there are some common sticking points we see. 

Sometimes it’s an internal hiring manager looking to add to their team. Maybe you’ve been in this boat before. They try their best, of course. But hiring isn’t always their main responsibility, so they lack the bandwidth to immerse themselves in recruiting. Plus, they generally stick to reviewing resumes that come across their desk as opposed to entering the marketplace to proactively search for candidates. All in all, hiring managers are limited in their recruiting capabilities. 

In the case of outsourced recruiters, there’s unfortunately a lot that can go wrong with a less-than-stellar firm. 

Too many recruitment agencies require staffers to meet daily call quotas. As a result, recruiters waste time talking to inappropriate candidates just to satisfy this quota. And they never have the time to truly get to know any one candidate. They end up merely matching job descriptions to resumes. However, relying on these pieces of paper to fill roles is never sufficient. People are so much more than their CVs.   

There’s also the chance your new hire will leave the role unexpectedly. But this is less likely to happen if you follow the four Cs. That’s because a hire that meets the needs of each “C” will be more satisfied in their new job and therefore more likely to stay put. 

The 4 Cs of Screening for Suitable Candidates 

People are complicated. That’s why the team at RedStream considers so many intangibles as we’re recruiting candidates for your open positions. We go way beyond reviewing resumes. We talk — on an actual phone — to both the hiring manager and potential candidates. 

Speaking with a prospective hire is the best way to understand the person behind the resume. We care about details that other recruiters often overlook, like a candidate’s motivation for seeking new employment and what they genuinely want in their next role. 

This is where the four Cs come into play. The way we uncover this intangible information is by thoroughly vetting candidates by asking questions surrounding the four Cs. Let’s take each “C” in turn. 

1. Culture

Understanding if a candidate will integrate well into your company’s culture is essential to successful placement. If a new hire isn’t adaptable to your culture, there are often team dynamic issues and, again, morale suffers. 

Say your team is accustomed to frequent pow-wows to spitball ideas and open-ended projects that breed creativity. That’s a different working environment than a spot that’s deadline- and output-oriented.

It’s paramount to pose questions that get at the kind of working environment a potential hire prefers. Getting to know them always helps our recruiters suss out their personalities. And because we already know the hiring manager and what their company is like, we can more easily make matches. 

2. Circumstances

What are a candidate’s non-negotiables when it comes to the circumstances around their employment? Maybe they want to work remotely 100% of the time. Or maybe they prefer a hybrid role. Sometimes candidates want full-time employment and aren’t open to contract positions. It’s possible someone is willing to commute, but only if it’s less than 30 minutes away. 

These are the kinds of circumstances our recruiters always find out about before placing a candidate. When the circumstances aren’t quite right, candidates often leave a project early. And remember: We’re trying desperately to avoid that lurch of unmet project deadlines. 

3. Core Skills 

You need a new employee who will effectively and efficiently complete the responsibilities associated with the role they’re hired to do. For our part, we always evaluate a candidate’s core skillset. 

In addition to ensuring a candidate can do the work assigned to them, we also ask them what they want from their next career leap. What kind of work do they want to be doing?

If a role falls outside of what the candidate wants to be doing and what they’re reasonably capable of, they’re likely to find something better suited to their wants and skills. 

4. Compromise

This last C? It’s kind of a bonus. The goal is to place a nearly perfect candidate. However, perfection doesn’t exist. Sometimes, one or both parties — meaning the candidate and/or the client — have to compromise on something. 

It’s like real estate. Everyone wants a four-bedroom house with a master bathroom and a walk-in closet in a solid school district. But most people don’t get it all without compromising (or paying out the wazoo). 

Maybe you’re willing to take on a hire who’s early in their career, but eager to learn and ideal from a company culture perspective. Similarly, maybe a candidate is willing to take a pay cut for the opportunity to work remotely full-time. 

Please All Parties with the Right New Hire 

No matter what, the team at RedStream does not compromise on your or the candidate’s non-negotiables. Because that never works out for anyone. And we get to know you and our candidates completely so we know the culture, circumstances, and core skills we’re working with. 

The goal is a mutually satisfying placement, always. Placing a candidate who is suitable in all of the “Cs” has a direct and positive impact on your ROI, team morale, and the overall success of the project at hand.