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How to Decide Between Two Great Candidates When Hiring

Hiring managers face many challenges. One of the impacts of COVID-19 is the market for talent across many areas is very rich. While this may sound like a great problem to have, too many candidates for too few roles isn’t good for anyone. Good hiring decisions are critically important. They have a profound effect on your role, your team, culture, morale, not to mention your organisation’s bottom line.

If you are in the position of needing to choose between two great candidates, I’ll show you how to navigate this important decision. Even if you are deciding on a single candidate’s suitability for a role, I think you will find the below helpful too.

Stress-test your requirements

Before you go to market, have a clear understanding of the competencies required to be successful in the role. Remember, it’s not a ‘nice to have’ or ‘wish list’, it’s which competencies are truly necessary.

The team at Clicks can help with competency validation. 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. We’d hate you to miss out on what could be an incredible partnership.

Consider the facts 

This is where a structured, consistent interview, well-crafted questions and taking good notes will be essential. These help you to later 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.

Be clear on what good looks like

Being 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 each prospective employee individually. What skills, experience and strengths will they bring? How does this 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 some ‘grey hair’ to add maturity to the team.

Gut instincts

I’ve used gut instincts to make important decisions in my life. With my wife and in my career and it has served me well. Trusting your gut instincts is backed by research.  What I find useful is to really dig into my feelings.

What do I feel when I think about each candidate? Is that feeling supported by data? Are there any feelings of uncertainty? What am I uncertain about?

Sometimes feeling uncertain just means I need to go back to get more information, rather than writing the candidate off. The 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 the best in my career.

Get feedback from a range of sources

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.

Timebox your decision

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.

Do you have to decide?

Previously, my client has hired both candidates I put forward. In the end they created two roles to leverage the strengths each candidate offered. I appreciate this may be more challenging to do in the current market, but it’s an option to be considered.

Personally, I always pick the candidate with the stronger culture fit for permanent roles, even if it that means a compromise on skills and experience. 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 contractor support or any hiring needs, please reach out to your Clicks Account Manager or me on 0438 355 792 to see how we can help.

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