How to Choose Between Your Two Best Candidates (Hint: It’s Not Who Looks Better on Paper)

Let’s say you’re at a crossroads. You have two highly qualified candidates vying for the same position. Do you make an extensive list of pros and cons? Do you seek advice from others at the office? Or do you rely on that trusted, old-fashioned piece of wisdom and “go with your gut”?

Either way, you have a tough choice to make. And making the wrong one could cost the company time and money. But the longer you take to decide, the greater your risk of losing one or both candidates to a competitor.

Knowing which questions to ask yourself can make your decision a lot easier — not to mention, save you from potentially running into a dead end.

  1. What is my #1 need?

Boiling down a list of needs to a single necessity can be difficult, but also necessary when ping-ponging between two candidates. It may be most important to you that a new employee is self-sufficient, someone who can hit the ground running. Or maybe you’re more interested in a teammate who works at a much slower, methodical pace, someone who can analyze details carefully to avoid costing the company financial setbacks. Consider the big picture, and think about which asset will benefit the company’s growth long term.

  1. Which employee fits in the organization?

Creating a team with the right cultural balance is no small feat. It not only keeps you happy, but also maintains employee satisfaction and retention. Choosing the right candidate is more than just checking off a list of requisite skills; it’s about finding the person who can effortlessly assimilate into the company culture, and contribute to an integrated, high-performing work environment. Look for gaps within your team — do you need an extrovert or introvert onboard? Then, select the candidate who best suits your organization’s culture.

  1. Will I admire this person?

Jeff Benzos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, knows a thing or two about hiring extraordinary talent. Admiration was his benchmark when choosing the right candidate. For him, a star employee was one who could raise the bar every day, motivate other team members, lead the company to success, and set an example for others. A person’s character will not reveal itself on a sheet of paper, but rather in the nuances of his or her personality. Think back to the narrative behind each candidate’s decision-making. Were they sincere and passionate in their answers, or did they lack self-awareness and critical thinking skills?

Think about who your employees will want to work with and who will inspire you. If you’re still undecided, it’s never a bad idea to fall back on sage advice and trust your instincts.

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