How to Choose Between Two Great Candidates

Choosing between two candidates

It’s a double-edged sword, a blessing and a curse: The job posting that’s been open for quite some time resulted in a handful of really great, qualified candidates who aced their interviews. They were charming and had great potential. After much internal discussion and debate, you’re down to two final candidates, both of which would be ideal for the position and could add a lot to your team. 

But how to decide? There’s one opening, not two, and someone will need to be let off easy. 

What criteria should a hiring manager use to select between two outstanding job candidates without resorting to rock-paper-scissors? 

Here’s some advice. 

Consider your company culture and whose personality would bring it to a new level.

Ideally, you want someone who doesn’t just meld well with your current team, but someone who can bring something new to the table. Someone who has a talent, skill, ability or work experience that can help take your group to new heights. You want someone who will be a “value add” to your team and raise your team’s potential even higher. Does one candidate have a background that might add to your team in a way the other doesn’t? Does one candidate bring a skill you’ve wanted your team to learn? Think long-term: Does one candidate have a better grasp of an emerging market or technology and could bring the other members of your team up to a new level? 

Listen to your gut.

This cliche is a cliche for a reason: There’s a lot of truth to it on a very basic level. After talking with these candidates a few times, you’ve picked up a sense of their personality. Who strikes you as the best fit? Did one candidate answer an interview question in an odd way that made you rethink something within the job description? Does one candidate have the type of personality that might become a distraction over time? Close your eyes and consider a company function: Who would make the best impression and add the most life to the conversation? Don’t shrug off those first impression instincts. 

Get a second opinion.

Ask someone else to make a call and have a conversation with both candidates. Whether it’s someone who’d be on the same team or someone from a different department, pick someone you trust and have them call up the candidates and have a brief chat. It doesn’t have to belong and detailed; it’s an opportunity for someone else to either verify your feelings or offer some perspective on something that you might’ve overlooked. Listen carefully to their notes on the call and see if that leads you in one direction over the other. 

Offer a test.

Some jobs require writing tests or skills tests as an early part of the interview process. If possible, consider adding this later on as a kind of tie-breaker. Provide questions or sample situations and allot a certain length of time, then see what kinds of answers you receive. This could shed a lot of light on a candidate’s thought process, how they’d handle stressful situations, how they make decisions, etc. It might also make it abundantly clear who the best person for the job would be. 

Consider their work history.

Some candidates might come from jobs where the employee perks are through the roof, or compensation is beyond what you can offer. Do you have any way to match or meet their expectations? It might not just be about pay, but that could be a significant factor. Someone looking to change careers might be really excited about a new opportunity until they realize what they’d be leaving behind — if you can offer a competitive wage and alluring benefits, it might be enough to sway someone. Make an offer they can’t refuse, and wouldn’t want to turn down if they could.

Ultimately, you’ve won the job posting lottery: You’ve got two solid candidates, and, if possible, you’d hire them both. Either way, you’re going to get a great addition to your team. Good hiring managers also know that opportunities can come up in the future, so the chance to hire the person you don’t pick this time might present itself. 

Find Your Next Candidate with Debbie’s Staffing

If you’re still looking for other candidates, contact Debbie’s Staffing today. We have a skilled, knowledgeable team ready to help you find the perfect new team member, and we’re prepared to help offer advice on how to break those hiring ties when they come up. We’re standing by and ready to help!