How To Choose Between Two Strong Job Candidates

How To Choose Between Two Strong Job Candidates

In the process of creating and sustaining a Company or business, hiring staff and constituting the right team is crucial. Thus, recruitment agencies and interviewers have a herculean and monumental task/responsibility of building and maintaining a pipeline of candidates that consists of the most qualified applicants available. The process of hiring should not be restricted to merely filling vacancies in the Organization; it should involve the application and use of all available human and technical resources to ensure an effective and satisfactory selection process.

When a Company, Organization, or Enterprise posts an opening(s) for a job, there is a high probability of getting or receiving applications from an array of strong and qualified candidates.  After a series of interviews, the company might be faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two strong candidates who excelled. Although the process of selecting the right fit and candidate for the job appears challenging, it is a very good problem to have.


In addition, it is an advantage to the company or interviewer to have two strong candidates with matched and equal qualifications, backgrounds, skillset, and references. At the end of the day, it is arguably an ideal situation for recruiters to have two candidates that are seemingly strong, perfect, and well-suited for the role. In most cases, it is difficult to find a single strong candidate for a role, let alone two or more. Also, having two strong candidates should make you happy and excited because you are guaranteed to have a star or great new worker.

However, the longer an organization waits to agonize about who to choose among two strong candidates, the higher the risk or chance of losing one or both candidates. Moreover, there is no assurance that the candidate you ultimately choose after mulling for long will definitely accept, so why waste time?   Therefore, the earlier you make hay and decide, the better. But then, how do you make the right choice and make the right decision when you are at this recruitment crossroads? One way will be asking yourself telling and tough questions, the answers to those questions will offer you clarity on their fit with your company, skills, and administrative issues that might affect the hiring of one over the other. Subsequently, this article will provide tips and guide to recruiters and Companies on how to choose between two strong job candidates.


Choosing Between Two Strong Job Candidates

Having to choose between two highly-skilled, technically gifted, and strong candidates should be a welcomed idea for every recruiter firm or Company. At the very least, you are getting someone who will hit the ground running. Hence, the following factors or tips should be considered by every interviewer when choosing between strong job candidates in no distinct order;

  • Think about what is most important in the role
  • Look out for the best culture fit
  • Think about their backgrounds
  • Map candidates’ work history to the open or advertised position
  • Use peer validation to choose the right candidate
  • Test their problem-solving abilities
  • Think about the Organization’s future
  • Consider each candidate’s interest level and enthusiasm


Think About What is Most Important in the Role: While dealing with two superb or extraordinary candidates, it is important to figure out what is most important in the role. This may be because one candidate may possess excellent interpersonal skills, while the other may have exceptional technical skills. Therefore, it is important to revert back to what is required the most in the role and choose the one whose resume and expertise are best suited for the role. You shouldn’t go for the candidate with better technical skills when the role requires more interpersonal skills for example. Also, the candidate’s most vital characteristics are being strong and highly qualified for the role. As a recruitment manager, you’ve probably seen that they have ticked all the boxes. To break the tie, think deeper and concentrate on the importance of the skills in relation to the role being interviewed for. For instance,  a candidate may possess seven out of eight required skills for a sales assistant role, while the other possesses five out of seven, but has vast Sales experience with a particular and specific Organizational product. In this case, you might decide that the latter candidate who has experience with company products is best suited for the role.

Look out for the Best Culture fit: This is an essential component of the recruitment process, especially when faced with the welcomed challenge of choosing between two strong candidates.  An organization’s culture includes its mission, vision, working environment, values, and beliefs. However, figuring out culture fit while hiring can be notoriously hard for all kinds of reasons. For instance, it is difficult to ascertain what each candidate will be like on a day-to-day basis at work because most applicants are presumed to be on their best behaviour during interviews. However, you can ask the following questions to help you determine which candidate will fit in better in your organization;

  1. What is the one word your previous coworkers or classmates would use to describe you?
  2. What would your previous boss say about you?
  3. What elements make up a successful team?

Answers to the sample questions above should help you determine the better culture fit among the two candidates.


Look at their Backgrounds: When faced with two strong candidates with matched and similar previous work experience and educational qualifications, it is beneficial and advisable to look at their background and go for the candidate with a higher probability of thinking outside the box. This is paramount especially when your staffs are of similar ages, have undergone similar training, and have similar demographics.  Choosing the candidate with the potential of shaking and spicing things up can bring a new and fresh perspective to work and the Organization in general, thereby resulting in further growth.

Map Each Candidate’s Work History to the Open or Advertised Position: The aim of reviewing applicants’ resumes strategically is to enable interviewers and organizations to draw a line from one position to another. While reviewing, applicants get to see if their work history tells a story. Is there connectivity from one past job to the next?  Does the previous job end where your organization begins? While giving the two applicants an opportunity to tell their work story, look out for and pay attention to the following specifics;

  1. Focus on the job titles and responsibilities. Does the work history provide a stepping stone at each point during each candidate’s career?
  2. Do the candidate’s abilities and successes hint that they see how the company vision and execution strategy align with each other?
  3. What are the tactics each candidate used to solve problems and challenges?

When you map out each candidate’s work history and get answers to the questions above, interviewers provide themselves with much-needed data, vital in choosing between two strong work candidates.

Use Peer validation in choosing the right candidate: A subtle yet efficient way of choosing between two strong job candidates is by involving and leveraging current team members in the process. By involving your employees in the recruiting process, you enhance the outlook of the current team positively, as well as enhance the applicant’s chances of success with the team and Organization. Pick and select a group of workers with different levels of expertise and personas from the team the potential candidate will join. Next, set and give them guidelines for the process, outline your expectations for feedback after the interview(s), and allow them to engage with each candidate. Their feedback will assist you in choosing the candidate that fits best with the Organization.


Test their problem-solving Abilities: Another means of choosing between two strong candidates is by testing their problem-solving ability with real-life scenarios. Create and make each candidate provide answers to questions on a case study, to ensure that the final selection process is productive. Use a scenario that mimics a problem the team they may be joining has faced or will soon confront. This is aimed at evaluating each candidate’s response, as well as deciphering their problem-solving techniques. Thus, this makes you learn how each candidate has or will handle real-life conflicts and crises and subsequently make selection easier.

Think about the Organization’s future: It is often exciting having a couple of candidates to choose from to add to the team. The buzz about them joining the team will understandably be high. But what happens once the candidate has settled into the role and the newness wears off? What will be their impact in the long term? Therefore, it is essential to ask each candidate about their short and long-term goals. From their responses, ascertain which candidate’s professional goal aligns more with what you’ve envisaged for this role and Organization in the long term and make a choice.

Consider each Candidate’s interest level and enthusiasm: You’ve interviewed both candidates probably more than once. Looking back on those meetings, which candidate seemed to be the most engaged in the process? Who asked the most questions? Who asked more insightful questions? How quickly did each candidate follow up after the interview? And just as important, what is your gut feeling about which candidate seemed to want the job the most? As you reflect on these questions, it’s likely you will identify the more interested and enthusiastic candidate, even if it’s only a hairsbreadth difference between the two strong job candidates. The importance of having an enthusiastic and interested candidate cannot be over-emphasized; you don’t want to hire someone who won’t give one hundred percent and more.

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