Apples and Oranges: Picking the Best Candidate

You go into the hiring process well prepared – you’ve considered all aspects of the position, laid out a detailed list of job requirements and expectations, and set your standards for applicants appropriately. No facet of the position escapes you.

Having established your requirements, you make the posting public – either by directly appealing to candidates through LinkedIn and Indeed, or hiring an experienced recruiting firm – and receive possibly thousands of applications, half of which have no relevance to the position being offered.

If you opted to work with a recruiter, that pool is immediately narrowed to the most talented and suitable candidates. In either case, you will eventually be faced with a crucial decision: who, among countless equally qualified and engaging people, is best for the job?

Making the Right Choice

Most roles aren’t catered to one perfect person. Multiple people with differing experience and backgrounds may offer a variety of benefits to the job and to your company more generally. Often the “right” candidate won’t fit the specific requirements you laid out in your original stipulations – they meld an assortment of essential and nonessential traits that, when combined, make for a candidate capable of exceeding your former expectations.

This is the work of recruiters: to find that person who will surprise you. To show you that your “A list” candidate may actually be a “B” for what you require – and that an other, often underutilized individual, ready for a new challenge and seeking opportunity, might better match your needs.

When it comes down to it though, the decision is ultimately yours. A tip I can offer from twenty years as a recruiter – and one that is backed by a recent study on the mechanics of decision making – is to examine all your options at once.

Compare and Conquer

Avoid considering resumes on an individual basis. Instead, open multiple on your desktop and line them up side by side. This method allows you to make a more informed decision based on actual facts rather than a general feeling.

Once you are past the resume stage and into the interview process, you can repeat this exercise with a more fleshed out list of pros and cons for each candidate.

Contextualize

Still unable to reach a satisfying conclusion? I suggest trying to imagine your chosen candidate over a given timeframe. By positioning the candidate in this way, you may be able to illuminate some of their strengths and weaknesses that formerly eluded you.

If you are hiring for a contract position, envision the individual and how they will serve your company over that time. If you are considering someone for direct hire, try to picture how they will succeed in their role over the span of three years. This method, which I’ve turned to time and again, is something I always recommend to hiring managers struggling with a particularly difficult decision.

Ask Yourself:

  • Can you see this person staying for the entirety of their contract – if it is a contract position – or three years?
  • What obstacles do you foresee in their future?
  • Do they seem invested in the work?
  • Will they be searching for opportunities elsewhere?
  • Are they at a point in their career where they are likely to be seeking mobility?
  • Will they be happy to fulfill the job to its completion?

Putting an “expiration date” on a position can bring some much needed perspective when choosing a new hire.

Need some guidance finding the right candidate for your specific needs? You can find information regarding our services and what we offer to help you make the right decision here.