CIO Best Practices

A CIOs Shortcut To Determining The Right Hire Or The Right Promotion To Make

Leaders do a lot of evaluation, often implementing scientific assessments or digging into resumes, referrals, and reviews. There might be an easier way to know that the hire is right or the promotion is good.

Scott Smeester


May 2, 2024

Photo credit:
Raul Barrios

I recently interviewed a candidate. When I asked her if she had any questions, she led with “What is the opportunity for advancement?” 

I felt a check in my spirit, a red flag rising. Not that I mind the question, just that I was concerned that it was her leading question.

I took the opportunity to run her previous answers through a different evaluation grid. I mentally checked how she scored against four character skills:

  • Initiative
  • Collaboration
  • Attentiveness
  • Determination


From my earlier post this week:

I just read the results of a landmark study as reported by Adam Grant in his newer book Hidden Potential. A researcher was able to predict the success that kindergarten students would achieve as adults by looking at who taught their class.

By age 25, students who happened to have had more experienced kindergarten teachers were earning significantly more money than their peers.

Surprisingly, the difference wasn’t in cognitive ability. Students with inexperienced kindergarten teachers eventually caught up in that area. The difference was in four areas experienced teachers imparted to their students, areas that these students were tested in after fourth and eighth grade and that they excelled in.

What are the four areas the students were tested in? Whether they were proactive (initiative), prosocial (ability to work with others), disciplined (attentive and not distractive, and determined.

Let’s Not Overcomplicate The Obvious

The NFL draft just concluded this year. I remember reading how a legendary coach would write DNDC by prospects names in the draft.

DNDC: Do Not Draft - Character

The coach refused to draft a player, even the most talented, if they had found character issues. He could coach for skill; he wouldn’t coach for character. Build on it, yes; start without it, no.

When considering if a candidate is the best hire or an employee is the best promotion, never act without asking four questions about character skills.

Initiative: How have they shown the ability to ask questions, give answers, seek more information, or engage in learning outside of work?

Collaborative: How have they demonstrated the ability to work well with others and to do so in a way that promoted positive advancement? 

Attentive: How well do they stay focused, help to keep others focused on priorities, and resist the opportunity to undermine or promote their own agenda?

Determined: How much did they take on challenges, do more than was expected, and do what is necessary to accomplish a project?

Sometimes we are so focused on the responsibilities of the job (and the relief it will give us to have someone doing them) that we fail to drill down on the capacity of the worker. They might have functional skills, but lacking character skills, we will be looking at turnover and a do over.

Think about people who didn’t work out for you - where did they lack in these four areas.

The company still offered this candidate the job. She declined. Inwardly, even inexplicably, I was relieved. She had superstar written all over her. But I suspected Attentiveness may have become an issue. I don’t want employees looking around at other options; I want them drilling down into the opportunity in front of them.

It turns out there is a science behind achieving great work; and it’s the very hard work of character, not just competence.

Alignment Survey

Interested in what CIO Mastermind could do for you?

* Designed for all IT executives and CEOs, CFOs and Board Members

All Article categories

Access Our Library

Thank you!
Please confirm your subscription and add "" to your safe list :-)
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again.