How to decide between candidates

How to decide between candidates

You’ve written a fantastic job advert and had lots of talented candidates sending in their applications. You picked the cream of the crop and interviewed a few, and now you realise there are (at least) two that you think would be more than capable of performing the role. How do you choose between them?

True, it’s a nice dilemma to be in, but it can still be problematic. What if you make the wrong decision? What if the person you pick doesn’t fit in and decides to leave so you have to start all over again? Luckily there are some steps you can take to help you decide which candidate to pick.

Re-evaluate the CV and cover letter

Although it’s difficult to fully evaluate a candidate via just a piece of paper, it’s inevitably what will have led to the interview offer in the first place.

If you’re faced with two fantastic candidates, have another, more critical, look over their CV and cover letter to look for things you may not have noticed before.

Looking carefully over the cover letter is especially crucial, as you’ll be able to see if the candidate specifically tailored their application to both the company and the specific role. This should help you determine how much they want the job, and whether they have the right attitude you’re looking for.


Consider the team

It’s important to think about the team’s needs as well as your own. Are you looking for someone with similar skills and experience, or someone with something unique to create a more rounded skills-base within the team?

It’s also important to think about whether personalities will complement or clash. Chris O’Connell, CEO of Timothy James Consulting says, “The most influential deciding factor for us is team fit, we ingratiate candidates in with their potential teams prior to them starting to assess culture fit.”

Therefore it may be helpful to invite a candidate back for a second interview and ask member(s) of the team to sit in. You could also ask the candidate to spend some time in the work environment to see how well they would fit in.

Connell continues, “We always ask our candidates to attend a minimum of two interviews, potentially more if they’re a senior candidate. It gives them a well-rounded view of the business, and they have the opportunity to meet more members of the team.”


How excited is the candidate?

You may find the decision of who to hire comes down to someone with more relevant experience versus someone with a real passion and enthusiasm for the role.

It can be easier to judge enthusiasm during a second interview, so try to explore exactly why the candidate wants this particular job, and what they are most looking forward to doing.

Don’t forget to ask about long-term career aspirations, as you need to determine whether the candidate sees your company as a stop-gap, a bridge to something else, or whether they want to learn and grow into the role over the coming months and years.

Consider whether you have any in-house training that could craft a less-than-perfect candidate with oodles of enthusiasm into someone with the relevant skills to match.


Use a skills-based second interview

Unfortunately there can be a big difference between what people say they can do and the reality. Asking a candidate back for a skills-based interview will show you who can really perform.

Peter Jones, Managing Director of recruitment agency Foyne Jones says, “An interview is just the starting point. Before making any appointment we ask all shortlisted candidates to undertake work related tasks to effectively assess their skills – these include tasks such as business development calls to clients, database management, posting a vacancy on a social media channel and internet based searching, all skills we require from a team member.”

Similarly, Timothy Jones uses psychometric testing and assessment centres, which Chris O’Connell says is particularly useful when interviewing graduates and are “designed to tease out inherent sales skills in a way which a traditional interview would not.


Go with your gut feeling

It is of course impossible to quantify exactly what a gut feeling is, but that shouldn’t be underestimated when choosing someone who you’ll probably spend more time with than your friends and family, in short, you need to get on.

Susie Ankrett, Regional Director for the Institute of Recruitment Professionals points out, “When all the ‘science’ of matching has been used, and there’s still a question mark, it has to be the ‘gut feel’, I believe that the essence of a really good recruiter is having emotional intelligence and the savvy to pick out the gems.”


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