A Good Problem: Choosing Between Two Great Candidates

It’s an enviable position to be in; you have a surplus of great candidates who are willing to join your team. The hard part is over and your only remaining job is choosing between them. Enviable as it may be, it still poses a problem. In a perfect world, you’d have the budget to hire all the qualified candidates that you come across. However, that usually isn’t a real possibility and you may have to make some tough choices. What is a hiring manager to do? If you find yourself forced to choose between two equally weighted candidates, take some time to think through the following to determine who the best addition will be. The plus side is, you know no matter what your decision, you’ll get a talented employee.

Hire for Runway
While you are screening candidates for a position, it is important to think ahead. Could you see either of the candidates moving up in the organization in the future? The candidate with the most potential to advance in their career with you will be the more strategic hire. Not only will you be making a great pick for your current role, but you’ll be improving your succession plan for the years to come.

Hire for Eagerness
You may want to hire both candidates equally, but do both candidates equally want to be hired? Most of the time, the candidate who is the most excited about the opportunity will be the more successful in the long run. After all, isn’t it better to work with someone who really wants to be there? Think back over your interactions with both candidates throughout the process and try to determine how eager they each were to move on at each step of the way.


Hire for Fit
While both candidates may seem equal on paper, cultural fit is much harder to discern from a resume. Take a beat to define and describe your organization’s culture. Chances are that one of the two candidates will be a more organic fit for the environment. The person you hire should share the values and ambitions of the company, so cultural fit can be crucial to a successful hire.

If all else fails, you can always make an old-fashioned pros and cons list. Just make sure that you are taking runway, eagerness, and cultural fit into account before you make your final decision. When you have two great candidates to choose from, there really isn’t a wrong answer. However, every hiring decision is important, so be sure that you carefully consider every angle. When in doubt, bring others into the process and ask them to rank the candidates against the above criteria. Once you’re sure that you have a candidate who has the most runway for promotability, the most ambition to be a part of your team, and who is the most appropriate cultural fit, you’ll know you have the best candidate for the job.


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