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How to Choose Between Two Great Candidates

Having to choose between two great potential hires is an enviable position to be in; you have a surplus of great candidates who are willing to join your team. The hard part is over, and your only remaining job is choosing between them. In a perfect world, you’d have the budget to hire all the qualified candidates that you come across. However, that usually isn’t a real possibility, and you may have to make some tough choices.

So, what do you do in that situation? If you find yourself forced to choose between two equally weighted candidates, take some time to think through the following to determine who the best addition will be. And remember, you know that no matter what you decide, you’ll get a talented employee.


Hire with a future-oriented outlook

While you are screening candidates for a position, it is important to think ahead. Could you see either of the candidates moving up in the organisation in the future?

The candidate with the most potential to advance in their career with you will be the more strategic hire. Not only will you be making a great pick for your current role, but you’ll be improving your succession plan for the years to come.

Taking things into perspective, by actively envisioning your team’s future development, you can also better distinguish between candidates and ultimately focus on investing in someone who supports growth, instead of those who perpetuate stagnation.

Assessing each candidate in conjunction with the other personalities on your team, its projected growth, and the kinds of problems they’ll be dealing with is also a key factor.


Hire for eagerness

An individual’s attitude can sometimes play a major role in determining who ultimately gets a job offer when contrasting two highly qualified candidates – you may want to hire both applicants equally, but do both of them equally want to be hired? A candidate who is most enthusiastic about the opportunity is most likely to succeed in the long run. After all, isn’t it better to work with someone who really wants to be there? Think back over your interactions with both candidates throughout the process and be mindful of how motivated they were to pursue their passion for this role and what skills they believe they would bring to the table.


Hire for compatibility

While both candidates may seem equal on paper, cultural fit is much harder to discern from a CV. Give a thought to how your organisation’s culture is defined and described. Chances are that one of the two candidates will be a more organic fit for the environment. The person you hire should share the values and ambitions of the company, so cultural fit can be crucial to a successful hire.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that too much uniformity among your workforce can lead to stagnation. Hiring candidates based too heavily on their cultural fit can lead to an underrepresentation of diverse views and even bias. Be sure to consider how their values would complement the culture in addition to fitting into the current norms.

If all else fails, you can always make an old-fashioned pros and cons list. Just make sure that you are taking runway, eagerness, and cultural fit into account before you make your final decision. When you have two great candidates to choose from, there really isn’t a wrong answer. However, every hiring decision is important, so be sure that you carefully consider every angle. When in doubt, bring others into the process and ask them to rank the candidates against the above criteria. Once you’re sure that you have a candidate who has the most runway for promotability, the most ambition to be a part of your team, and who is the most appropriate cultural fit, you’ll know you have the best candidate for the job.


Lastly, make sure to keep the unsuccessful candidate close

Choosing between two equally qualified candidates can be tricky. Regardless of who you ultimately choose, though, make sure to keep the other candidate in your pipeline.

One advantage of having two strong prospects is that if one of them declines your offer or another position opens up later, you’ve already got the right candidate to take over.


Posted in: Allen Agency / Allen Consulting / Allen Embedded / Allen Outsource / Allen Senior Appointments / Blog

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