When a company is faced with deciding between job candidates, selecting the right person can present many challenges. While you would rather have multiple strong candidates than none, figuring out which one to hire can be a tough chore for hiring managers.
With a pool of well-qualified candidates, choosing between potential hires may appear to be straightforward. But to anyone who has shouldered the burden of deciding which candidate gets the offer, having a larger pool of candidates doesn't necessarily make the selection process any easier. When faced with multiple candidates with strong backgrounds, skills, and references, the hiring manager must leverage strategies which can expose traits that signal which candidate is a better fit. Deciding between job candidates relies on the use of a framework in making key hiring choices.
Here are several techniques that help staffing agencies, recruiters, and HR professionals make decisions for selecting a job candidate when there are multiple qualified options.
Map a candidate's work history to the open position.
By reviewing candidate resumes with a strategic lens, hiring managers may benefit from drawing a line from one position to another. Does the work history tell a story? Can you draw a line from past job to past job so that it ends where your company begins? Give the job candidate an opportunity to tell their own work experience narrative so you can hear the story in their own words. Among some of the specifics you should pay close attention to are:
- Focus on job title and responsibilities. Does the work history provide a stepping stone at each point during the candidate's career?
- Do the candidate's abilities and successes hint that they see how company vision and execution strategy align with each other?
- What are the biggest problems the candidate has solved and what tactics did they use to overcome those challenges?
By mapping out their past history and getting answers to these questions, you will provide yourself with the type of data that is needed to help choose between multiple qualified job candidates.
Determine if a candidate fits your company culture.
You shouldn't only focus on job skills. Once qualifications and hard and soft skills are assessed, hiring managers should consider the level of cultural fit a job candidate demonstrates. Is your work environment a traditional one where business suits are the norm? Does leadership value individualism and creativity?
You need to consider how those types of work environments shape your culture? You should know the answers to these questions to help identify and choose the candidate that will fare best in the company. During the interview process, there are a few additional questions to ask to help you verify a job candidate fits within your company culture:
- What is one word your previous co-workers would use to describe you?
- What elements make up a successful team?
- What would your previous manager say about you?
Use peer validation to choose the right candidate.
One of the best ways to determine which candidate is a better fit is to leverage existing team members in the process. By giving your employees the opportunity to help to make the hiring decision, you not only enhance the candidate's chance for success but you also positively affect the outlook of current team members.
From the team the job candidate will be joining, select a diverse set of individuals with various levels of expertise and personas. Then let them engage your candidates, setting guidelines for the process and your expectations for feedback once the interviews are complete. This is one area where hiring managers can learn the most about everyone involved in the decision process.
Test problem-solving abilities.
Choose a job candidate based on real-life scenarios. If you want to stress test your final round candidates in a productive way, consider having your prospects answer questions involving a case study.
Use a scenario that mimics a problem the team they may be joining has faced or will soon confront. Include details pertinent to the situation while refraining from giving the candidate any hints about the way they should answer. The key is to evaluate the candidate's responses, determine their problem-solving style and learn how they react to real-world problems that could be faced in the future.
Breaking a tie between multiple qualified candidates.
There may be a scenario where the backgrounds of qualified candidates are all competitive (or very similar) and the decision hits a wall. One candidate may possess the necessary soft skills while another may have previously performed the job functions you are looking for. Determining which job candidate is the best choice can come down to a small, qualitative piece of criteria.
Here are three qualitative metrics to help you verify a job candidate when the pool becomes competitive:
- Which candidate more enthusiastically discussed the job opportunity and why they were looking to make a change at this point in their career?
- Between the top candidates, evaluate the questions they asked and how they asked them. Which one posed more insightful questions?
- Of the final round candidates, which one followed up first? Which one followed up with additional questions?
Use every resource at your disposal.
In the end, you need to take all of these factors into consideration to make the best choice for your company. Deciding which job candidate is the best fit is a process best handled by multiple teams and decision-makers. No matter which person is evaluating the talent, the choice between two or more qualified candidates is a challenging exercise. However, by using a collaborative team approach that is open and transparent, you'll make better choices using better data, enhancing not only the selection process but also the outlook of those who are tasked with decision-making.
In the race to staff a company and keep business teams running at peak performance, staffing agencies, recruiters, and HR professionals have a monumental task – building and maintaining a candidate pipeline that consists of the most qualified candidates available. Not only are you tasked with filling vacancies within the company, but you must also use every resource at your disposal for an effective selection process.