2 become 1: how to choose between two compelling candidates

  18th September 2019       Hannah Hashtroudi
 Accounting & Finance, Client, Company News, Engineering, Science & Space, Executive Search, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Office & Commercial

You’ve penned a persuasive job advert, sifted through the CVs and had the fortune of interviewing some amazing candidates but what happens when two people stand out from the crowd and you can’t choose between them?

Sometimes employers are faced with a disappointing group of applicants but if the role is well numerated and rewarding, the quality of the field may be excellent and a decision made difficult when there’s nothing between two people. If you find yourself with the luxury of a pair of possible hires who look good on paper and have convinced you they’re right for the role, it’s time to look at other factors that could influence your decision.

Here is Bond Williams’ advice for choosing between two candidates after the interview stage.

Ensure you take up references – while a CV and interview will always be angled to paint everything in the most positive light, what comes back from a reference request can be closer to the truth and cast new light. Where possible, try and talk to the referee rather than rely on an email for the chance to really explore a candidate’s prior career history.

Set a round of second interviews – first interviews tend to be more formal, and dominated by skills, qualifications and industry questions. Nerves can also influence how a person comes across at first presentation. A second interview for the top two applicants can be a more relaxed affair where you can explore their social and personable attributes in greater depth.

Set a test – if two candidates are truly impossible to distinguish, a formal test will provide you with measurable answers in an environment that the candidates can’t prepare for. Whether you set a practical, skill-based, psychometric or written test depends on your industry and the job advertised but it’s wise to include some open-ended questions that encourage the applicants to think on their feet.

Run a trial day – qualifications, CVs and interview performance aside, your new hire should be a good cultural fit for your company as much as a competent worker. Assessing how well they’d fit into a team and the rest of your business can be observed during a trial run – just remember to schedule the candidates on different days.

Think ahead – it’s easy to become blinkered by hiring for the role that immediately needs filling but thinking of the applicant as a long-term member of staff will help differentiate between the two. Will they be able to develop the role and how quickly could they deal with increased responsibilities or even promotion? These are areas you can explore at the first interview stage.

Involve a third party – a second opinion is sometimes what’s needed if you’re stuck between two candidates. This might be a colleague from your team, someone from HR or even a peer from the same industry who works at another company. Ask them to cast their eye over the CVs or even sit in on interviews.

Hire both people – if two outstanding candidates are both keen, and appear good fits for the role and your company, seize the opportunity! It goes without saying that this can’t be a spontaneous, solo decision but before offering the job to one person, speak with HR and the company directors. They may know about an expansion plan or a hush hush resignation, or are happy to create a new opening so the talent isn’t lost.

For many employers, a recruitment agency is an integral part of the hiring process and Bond Williams is happy to be a sounding board and confidant at any point, perhaps helping you to make that final decision. For our professional take on matters, such as choosing between two candidates, contact us for advice.

Hannah Hashtroudi

Principal Recruitment Consultant

Hannah is a specialist in the Office & Commercial sector. Dedicated, hardworking and motivated, Hannah thrives on sourcing and placing the best talent from SME’s through to large blue chip companies across the region and in London. Hannah has grown an enviable reputation for sourcing high level senior appointments together …

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