How to Decide Between Two Qualified Candidates

November 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM by Rob Stevenson

So the saying goes, finding the perfect person can be like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages, and then two come along at once! But what's a recruiter to do Decide between two qualified candidateswhen you go through all the trouble of sourcing, engaging, scheduling, and interviewing only to arrive at the end of the process with two people you wish you could hire? While getting to decide between two qualified candidates is a pretty great recruiting problem to have, it certainly doesn't make the final decision any easier. Here's a handful of strategies you can use to pick betwen two great potential hires.

Whose Opportunity Is it Anyway?

As you've probably learned the hard way, a well qualified hire does not necessarily equal an engaged employee. Take in to account each candidate's current role, background, and personal goals, and decide who stands to gain the most by joining your organization. If for only one of the candidates the role is a step up, solves their dissatisfactions at their previous role, and offers them the chance to develop the way they want, then that person is your hire. Being able to accurately suss out how your open role aligns with someone's desired career trajectory is a great way to add someone to the team who will instantly thrive, bring value, and stick around.


Hot to Trot

A question many recruiters forget to ask themselves is "How badly does this candidate want to work here?". All other things being equal, if one candidate is following up, engaging with the team, and sold you specifically on the "why us?" portion of the interview, go with the person who's hot to trot. It's easy to forget that interviews are a two way street, and people are evaluating your organization as much as you're evaluating them. If you pass the candidate's interview with flying colors and can tell they're eager to hop on board, then send out that offer letter.


Short vs. Long Game

Truthfully, there's no silver bullet here, because so much depends on the role in question. If the open role is one you needed to fill 2 months ago, and you can't spare much time to ramp up the hire, go with the candidate you think can hit the ground running. On the other hand, if one role can afford time to mold the candidate specifically to what will most benefit the organization, choose the candidate with higher long term potential. Roles will inevitably evolve beyond your job description, and in this case you may want the candidate who can grow and define the role as they go rather than hammer it out exactly as you conceived it in an Angelist post.



In the event of equally qualified candidates, nice-to-haves can serve as a convenient tie breaker. Which person has more experience specifically with your stack? Which has worked on more relevant projects? Which one comes from a company already in your industry? These are often viewed as cherries on top, but here they can serve to make a candidate truly stand out.


Rock the Vote

A crucial attribute of your next hire is how they'll get along with the team. Consider rounding up your hiring manager and other interviewing team members and have them assign values to their desired candidate. The Condorcet Method provides a round-robin formula based on voting to determine the most liked candidate when it comes to a head to head comparison. While it's unlikely you'll have four candidates you all want to hire for the same role, hey, stranger things have happened.


What are some of your strategies for picking between two qualified candidates? Leave a comment or tweet @EnteloRob!

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