Advice for Hiring Managers When Choosing Between Two Great Candidates

A combination of factors ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic and changing employee expectations to economic conditions and retiring baby boomers have resulted in a candidates’ market. There are more jobs available than there are workers to fill them and the fight to attract the best candidates is highly competitive. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a handful of qualified applicants for your open position – but you’ll have to move quickly on making the choice if you want to secure the best one.

The perfect candidate possesses a combination of the right skills and experience for the job, the right personality for your team, and the right fit for your company culture needs. Get any one of those components wrong, and your new hire will result in more headache than help.

So, what’s a hiring manager to do when faced with the tough choice of deciding between two candidates that appear to be a good fit?

Clearly Define Your Ideal Hire

The most important step in choosing between great finalists comes at the very beginning of the hiring process. When thinking through your ideal new hire, take the time to really ask yourself from the start:

  • What business need are you trying to solve with this hire?
  • What are the essential skills and experience necessary for this role?
  • What personality traits are vital for success?
  • What does it take to thrive in your company culture?
  • Who would influence your company culture in the ways you need?

By thoroughly defining all these criteria at the start of the hiring process, you’ll be set up for success before you even get to final round interviews. You’ll compare all candidates against this list and be able to comprehensively evaluate who is the best fit for the job.

Only Advance the Best Candidates

With today’s competitive job market, you only get a few interviews with a candidate before you have to make an offer. Hiring is a big investment for any company, and it’s essential that you get it right the first time. Interviews are your chance to really get to know a candidate so that you’re only passing ideal candidates on to the final round interviews.

Having a structured plan for the interview process ensures that you gather all necessary information early in the process, address potential red flags, and don’t find yourself in the situation of bringing too many people to final round interviews. Before you even start interviewing, decide:

  1. Who should your interviewers be?
  2. In what order should they meet the candidates?
  3. What is the goal for each interview?

Then after each interview, debrief with the team to get a complete understanding of what they learned. By doing this, you can build off your interviews and identify any unanswered questions you have so that you can address them during the follow-up interview.

Giving each interviewer a goal also results in a better candidate experience, as it ensures they’ll be asked different questions each time and have a chance to give the team a comprehensive picture of themselves.

Trust Your Recruiter

If you’re working with a marketing staffing agency, their recruiter's judgement is a great thing to defer to when you find you like more than one candidate in final round interviews. Your recruiter is in the unique place of understanding what you’re looking for and knowing the candidates better than you possibly can in your few interviews.

A marketing staffing agency fully vets candidates, working to ensure they only pass you the most qualified candidates. If they take the time to connect you with someone, it’s because they truly believe this person is a good fit for the job AND that they’re likely to accept your offer.

When questioning whether which final round candidate is right for you, talk to your recruiter about it.

Hire for Fit, Not Feelings

At the end of the day, you’re going to vibe better with some candidates than others; you’re only human, after all. Some candidates will have a story you connect with, while others will share details that make you want to help them. Learning more about candidates can muddy the waters and it’s possible that you’ll find yourself willing to compromise on some of your “must have” criteria in order to make the job fit the person you want to hire. That doesn’t always mean you should rule the person out. You should definitely be confident in you(r) team’s ability to train or skill up in areas of deficit according to the original criteria of the role. It’s important to measure the time and cost of any learning curves you may choose to take on with any candidate and clearly communicate them, so expectations are clear.

Remember that you made that list of criteria for a reason – to hire someone that will be happy and successful in the role – and final round interviews are not the time to compromise on that. Throughout the hiring process, candidates should be vetoed when it’s discovered that they don’t meet your requirements.

By clearly defining the ideal candidate early on and sticking to those criteria throughout the entire process, you’ll wind up hiring someone that is everything you’re looking for.

In today’s job market, having too many good candidates in final round interviews is a good problem to have – but that doesn’t make it any easier. By setting yourself up for success with clearly defined hiring goals, a thoughtful interview processes, a good marketing staffing agency, and a commitment to your criteria, you’ll be able to pick the right candidate for the job.

Written by
Learn More ArrowArrow