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How to Choose Between Two Great Candidates

Hiring the right employee is crucial to the success of any organisation but when you have two great candidates for a position, it can be difficult to decide between them. According to a recent report from Forbes, 87% of people stated that the best employees are those who were chosen as a good cultural fit within an existing team, and because they showed a lot of potential during the recruitment process. However, despite this, 62% of hiring managers consider technical skills and relevant experience to be the two most important factors when hiring someone new. This can make it difficult to choose between two candidates, especially if one has more relevant skills and experience, but the other is likely to fit in well with colleagues and the workplace culture. Below, we have looked at how a business may choose between these two great individuals.

  • Review their resumes thoroughly - One of the first steps to choosing between two great candidates is to review their resumes in detail. Look for specific skills, experiences, and achievements that are relevant to the position you're hiring for. Pay attention to their work history, education, and any certifications they may have. This will help you identify which candidate has the stronger background for the job and may give one candidate a slight edge over the other.
  • Conduct a thorough interview - Once you have reviewed the candidates' resumes, it's time to conduct a thorough behavioural or competency-based interview. Ask open-ended questions that allow them to speak freely about their experience and expertise. This kind of interview process gives you the chance to understand what transferable skills each individual possesses, alongside any awards or accomplishments they have achieved. The list of set questions, each focusing on a specific skill, allows comparison against the pre-determined criteria and is marked accordingly. During the interview, take note of their communication skills, their ability to think on their feet, and their overall demeanour. This will help you get a sense of how they would fit into your company culture.
  • Check their references - After the interview, it's important to consider if you’re checking a candidate’s references. While most companies believe reference checks are outdated, many still rely on them to make the final determination of whether they’ll extend an offer or move on to alternative candidates. Reference checking should be “a way to gain extra information and insight into a potential candidate’s performance and ability” outside of the perfunctory questions. Contact their former employers or colleagues to get a sense of their work ethic, strengths, and weaknesses. While it can be awkward putting a reference on the spot, the goal is to gain clarity and ask specific questions that help educate whether or not the candidate is a right fit for the organisation. This can help  determine which candidate is the better fit for the job
  • Always Get a Second Opinion - In the hunt for scarce talent and eagerness to hire, it can be tempting to settle for establishing a candidate’s skills, abilities, and performance through internal selection processes. Gaining outside opinions can be beneficial to the recruitment process, such as applying psychometrics or utilising other members of staff within the business to highlight those likely to perform optimally in the role at hand. You can also make sure to speak to both male and female members of staff to avoid any biases you may be unknowingly operating with.
  • Think About Long-Term Impact - If you can’t decide between two candidates, start to think about the long-term potential of each one, and whether you are more interested in someone who can have an impact quickly. Both can be beneficial to the company, but you might need one more than the other. If you have the time and money to train someone, a candidate with a lot of potential, in the long run, could be the better option.  However, one option does not discredit the other. Someone may be able to have a quick short-term impact and could grow into a long-term asset with the right kind of training and development.
  • Decide Which Skills You Deem Most Valuable - Before you started interviewing candidates, you probably devised a list of desired skills and experience together with a weighting. These were developed into a framework, such as CAR Framework - Context, Action, Result, or the STAR Model, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. When you are trying to decide between two great candidates, add up the corresponding candidate’s score as well as review the ‘nice to have’ category. However, it is important to consider both technical and soft skills since the technical skills may mean a candidate can operate efficiently in their job but only the right soft skills will make them excellent for the company culture.
  • Consider If You Can Realistically Get Both Candidates - Though you might have narrowed your options down to two candidates, you can’t overlook the fact that you might not be able to get them both. You need to think about whether the candidate is likely to accept your job offer, and what your company can offer them as a workplace. Amidst the current skills shortage, it’s not easy to attract top talent, and most candidates are looking for more than just a good salary. Think about their level of experience and how they want to be compensated and consider if that’s something that you can guarantee as an employer.

Choosing between two ideal candidates is never an easy feat, but it’s a big part of the recruitment process. Ultimately, there is always risk and uncertainty associated with any appointment, regardless of who the candidate is. But overly focusing on experience and technical skills, at the expense of potential and cultural fit, can hinder an organisation’s ability to respond to digital disruption in this fiercely competitive world. It’s important to carefully weigh your options and consider all factors before making an appointment. 

If you would like advice, tips, inspiration, or a knowledge-led approach to recruitment from the UK’s most trusted Electronics and High Technology recruitment specialist, contact us on 01582 450054 or send us an email at for more information.


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