Having several qualified candidates for a position doesn’t seem like it should be a problem, but it can be when you can only hire one. When you have two or more candidates who have what it takes to do the job, you’re faced with a big question: How do you pick just one?
“Everyone comes with strengths and weaknesses, and it’s about understanding what strengths are needed for that particular role and what weaknesses you can parlay into growth, fit or learning opportunities,” says Matthew Cholerton, founder of Hito Labs, a boutique recruiting service. “It’s easy to pick the wrong person. It can be avoided by careful planning and understanding needs, and then having a diverse interview team, including peers, where consensus must be met.”
Here’s how to get it right.
You’ve already interviewed your candidates, but did you ask them all the right questions? Throughout the interviews you should ask behavioral questions that determine how candidates approach and solve day-to-day challenges. But sometimes a pointed question can elicit answers that finally show you the difference that can help you make your decision.
For Cholerton, that means asking the candidates what they know about the role they’re interviewing for. “Top-notch candidates can talk intelligently about your company and business,” he says. “If the role is the right fit for them, they will ask questions about how the work and team will impact them.”
Throughout your interviews you’ll be gauging the candidates’ personalities and interest in the position. But it’s also important to take note of how you feel during the conversation — are you truly interested in what they have to say? Are you curious about what they might say next? Cholerton recommends paying attention to how engaged you are as the candidate answers your question; the level of engagement can be enough to point you to the right candidate.
“Top-notch candidates talk passionately about their work,” Cholerton says. If you find your attention wandering during a candidate’s answer, it might be because they don’t have that deep-seated interest in what they do. But someone who keeps your attention is likely to be energized by the role they’re interviewing for.
“Hiring for fit” is a term you hear a lot when recruiting and interviewing, and it can help you make the decision between two or more qualified candidates. Even a slam-dunk candidate who has all the skills you’re looking for won’t be successful in the role if they don’t fit with your organization’s culture or values, Cholerton says.
Make sure your interviewing process includes the peers and managers that the candidates would work with, and get their feedback after they talk with each candidate. You may find that someone whose skills aren’t as well-rounded turns out to be a better fit with the whole team — and that can mean a better outcome in the long run.
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