Two Qualified Candidates – How do you choose?

Most employers would consider having to choose between two qualified candidates as a good problem to have. Nonetheless, it’s still a problem and requires careful consideration on your end.

You want to ensure that you decide on the person who’s most likely to flourish in their position. So what’s the best way to make the choice?


Consider Key Skills

One of the most critical factors to consider is key skills. Obviously, both candidates have skills and experiences that match the job description. But which one possesses the skills that closest match what you’re looking for?

Conventional hard skills are very important but don’t forget about soft skills such as self-motivation, decisiveness and conflict resolution. Often, it’s these soft skills which aren’t so easily quantifiable that shed light on who the ideal candidate truly is.


Examine Past Promotions

Another way to gauge an individual’s likelihood of success is to examine past promotions. Brian Rudolph, Managing Director with Minnesota executive recruiters SkyWater Search Partners has an insightful quote. “If you have two great candidates with comparable skills, but one of them has consistently been promoted within their current employer, you may have just found the ‘right’ candidate and a future leader for your organization.”


Decide Who’s the Better Fit Culturally

Company culture is a big deal these days. Generally speaking, candidates who fit in with the culture of a company are more likely to succeed than those who do not. If it’s obvious that a particular candidate shares the same philosophy, values, and vision of your company, they’re likely to be a good fit. On the other hand, a candidate with directly opposing views could create friction within your organization.

Throw in a few questions regarding culture to determine which candidate is the better fit. If you’re not sure what to ask, consult this guide from The Balance for 18 cultural fit job interview questions.


Factor in Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is also important. If someone is genuinely enthusiastic about their job, it can translate into a host of positive benefits such as increased productivity, stronger work ethic and a more serious commitment to your company. If it’s clear that one candidate is far more enthusiastic than the other, they’re probably the better choice.


Ask a “Tie-Breaker” Question

When all else fails, you can always ask a single question to serve as a tie-breaker between two qualified candidates. This is similar to the psychological concept of running a controlled experiment where extraneous variables are controlled.

By asking the exact same question and weighing the results, you should be able to make your final decision with a greater degree of certainty. Or if a question just won’t cut it, you could also give both candidates a “practice project.”

Regardless of who you choose, you’re likely to wind up with a good employee on your hands. However, you still want to take every step possible to select the better of the two qualified candidates. Following these tips should help you cover all of your bases to find a home run.

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