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Hiring: Deciding Between Two Great Candidates

Hiring managers face many challenges. The technology sector is very dynamic and fluctuates, and at times you can find that the talent pool in certain areas is quite deep. While this may sound like a great problem to have, too many candidates for too few roles isn’t good for anyone.

Make The Correct Hiring Decision

Good hiring decisions are critically important. Whether you get it right or get it wrong, the impact can be felt positively or negatively within your role, your team, culture, morale, not to mention your organisation’s bottom line.

If you are fortunate enough to find two great candidates and are deciding which of the two is the very best for for the role, you may look beyond CV and interview to find your match. Here’s a recruiter’s perspective on what to look for when deciding on a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Calibrate Your Criteria

Before you go to market, have a clear understanding of the criteria and key competencies required to be successful in the role. Be truthful about your requirements and what a candidate absolutely needs to fulfil them. Your criteria should not include your ‘wish list’, only those competencies which are truly necessary.

Clicks can assist you with competency validation. As experts in IT and technology recruitment, we have a very broad view of the hiring market. Get ready to be asked ‘why’ a lot.

Why do you need someone with 10 years’ experience if there is a rising star with 5?
Why can’t the role be 4 days a week?
Why can’t you provide additional larger monitors for someone with low vision?
Why do you require excellent written English when the job is writing code?
When you say leadership, what specific behaviours will the candidate have demonstrated in previous roles?

Be specific about your needs, and be open-minded about how they can be met. Your dream candidate may be sitting right in front of you, but not in the form you had in your head. Don’t let unconscious bias or a too-conservative approach cause you to miss out on what could be an incredible partnership.

Consistency is Key

If you’re comparing two different people for the same role, you want to be comparing their differences in a like-for-like scenario. This is where a structured, consistent interview, well-crafted questions and exemplary note-taking is essential. This is the key to helping you review and compare candidates. If you can’t compare apples with apples, you won’t be able to pick the good or bad ones from the apple cart.

Good Vs Great

Be prepared and clear on what pass, good and great looks like. This will help you assess and score the candidates’ performance equitably. When determining what to test and assess, remember to factor in soft skills (such as working collaboratively) and attributes (such as trust and diligence) that are important to you and the role.

Don’t Just Compare the Pair

While it is important to compare the candidates, it’s equally important to think about what each prospective employee individually brings to the table. Look at their unique characteristics, skills, experience and strengths. How do these complement you and the team? What might it be like to work with that person? On balance, you may opt to hire someone slightly less experienced with great energy and optimism to address a morale imbalance. Or you may hire someone further along in their career to add maturity to the team.

Trust Your Gut

We all use gut instincts to make important decisions our lives. Trusting your gut instincts is backed by research. This process is no exception. Going by feel is also a rational and important tool that can be the deciding factor. Sometimes something just feels right. And you find along the way, that it did because it was.

Consider what you feel when you think about each candidate. Is that feeling supported by data, experience and references?

Check in with any feelings of uncertainty. What are you uncertain about? Sometimes feeling uncertain just means you need to go back to get more information, rather than writing the candidate off. Additional information could be in the form of work samples, a case study, technical tests and assessments, or an open and honest conversation. Some of these hires have worked out to be great hires, because you’ve taken the time to investigate further.

Cross-Check With Feedback

Speak to your recruitment partner openly, as their role is to guide and challenge your thinking when required. However, when speaking with other interview panel members, it might be helpful to get their initial feedback before sharing your observations and what you are seeking clarity on. This will avoid biased feedback.

Sleep On It

I’ve found sleeping on any candidate decisions following the interview, relevant reflections, and discussions to be helpful. Once my subconscious had done its bit processing the information, I make time and space to decide.

Deadline It

Putting a clear timeframe around when you will decide is important. A sense of urgency helps the decision-making process and ensures you don’t lose the candidate. Great candidates will always be vied for, even in a talent rich market.

Why Can’t We Have Both?

Sometimes, the process opens up the opportunity to hire both candidates and create roles to leverage the strengths each candidate offers. This is not always a possibility, but it’s an option to be considered if you don’t want to lose the opportunity to add real strength to your team.

Bottom Line

At Clicks, we are huge proponents of great culture in the workplace. Often a candidate with a stronger culture fit for permanent roles is the best choice, even if it that means a compromise on skills and experience. Someone who thrives in an environment will always grow and develop at a faster rate than someone who is not the right fit. Whomever you select, once you have decided, back yourself. If you don’t back your decision, you may start to focus on the negative and wondering ‘what if’.

Remember you are picking between two good options, so it really is win-win.

Clicks has a variety of technical tests to help assess candidate fit. We can also help you put together bespoke assessments and interview questions. For permanent or contractor hiring needs, contact Clicks to see how we can help.

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