How to choose between two top candidates

It’s not the worst situation to find yourself in; but having to choose between two top candidates can be a real struggle for interviewers and hiring managers.

Making the right choice is extremely important; especially as picking the wrong candidate can impact employee morale and your success as a business. Ultimately, you want to ensure that you bring in someone who’s going to have a positive impact on your company.

So, what do you do when you have two equally qualified candidates going for the same job role? Have a read of our guide to help make your hiring decision easier!

Set them a task

One of the best ways to choose between two top candidates is to provide a task. Ideally, this should be directly related to what they’d be doing in the role and you can choose to do this before, during, or after the interview.

It can be anything from a writing test, to designing a webpage. Tests like this are great for seeing who might find it easier to take on the roles and responsibilities of the job; and who might perform better than the other.

Better yet, if you’re able to, try and get them to work half a day in the office. This gives them the chance to really show how they’ll fit into the company culture and how they might handle some of the responsibilities of their role.

Check their references

References are there for a reason. So, use them to your advantage if you’re stuck between two top candidates. It’s all well and good seeing how someone presents them self in an interview, but they’ll most likely be acting up in order to portray themselves positively.

References from previous employers will give you a much better understanding of how each candidate approaches their work. It’ll provide you with more insight into their best skills, attributes and any drawbacks they may have.

It’s likely that one reference will come across much stronger than the other, which should make your decision a lot easier!

Focus on your priorities

Maybe your problem is that you need to choose between two top candidates who are very different. One may be an older, far more experienced individual and the other could be a young graduate with exemplary soft skills, qualifications and a whole load of potential.

Are you prioritising potential or experience when hiring? When making your decision, this should be one of the first questions you ask yourself. In doing so, you’ll find it easier to reach an informed decision on which candidate is more suited to your needs.

It doesn’t always have to be between potential or experience though. For some roles you may focus on finding someone with transferrable skills over industry experience; and for others you may look at personality over skillset.

This is completely your decision; just make sure you have the role you’re hiring for in mind and think about this from the very beginning. It’s no good deciding on your priorities once you’re well into your recruitment campaign. This will only lead to making a bad hire!

Ask for a second opinion

When it comes to choosing between two top candidates, you don’t need to make the decision alone.

Asking a trusted colleague or line manager for their input can help to make your decision a lot easier. This way, you’ll be able to bounce ideas off each other and properly assess candidates without bias; ultimately ensuring you make the best hire possible.

When you’re hosting interviews, be sure to bring reinforcements to help you evaluate candidates. Another senior member of staff and a representative from HR will give you an ideal balance of opinions to help you choose between two top candidates.

Just be conscious of not overcrowding the interview. Any more than three people to one candidate will make it too intimidating.

Consider your company culture

Another point to consider is how well the individual will mesh with your team. You might get a feel for this during the interview, or you may even want to bring them into meet their potential colleagues.

Nowadays, cultural fit is extremely important for any workplace. And, bringing in someone who doesn’t fit with your culture can have a seriously negative impact.

It’s also important to think about the future of your team. What direction are you going in and which candidate will be a great long-term investment? If one candidate shows that they have the ability to develop and evolve as your team expands and changes, then they’re the one for you.

Deciding between two top candidates

Sure, it’s not the easiest choice in the world. But having this dilemma is an enviable position for most hiring managers across the country.

Despite this, it’s still a huge decision to make. So, ensure that you try out our top tips to help you make your choice. Whoever you pick, they’ll hopefully have a hugely positive impact on your company.

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