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Choosing Between Two Equally Qualified Candidates


Choosing Between Two Equally Qualified You’re facing a dilemma many managers would like to have: You’ve found more than one strong candidate for a position. And even if you have a hiring process designed to narrow the field — you’ve determined the key skills required, created a precise job description and carefully evaluated leading contenders — you still find yourself with two well-qualified candidates. While it’s a good “problem” to have, it makes your hiring decision more complicated. Fortunately, there are guidelines to help you make the best choice.

Look Beneath the Surface
First, invite both candidates back for another interview. Before each meeting, prepare targeted questions focusing on the characteristics essential to the position. Frequently, what distinguishes truly outstanding employees is the ability to learn from mistakes. So, have each applicant talk about the lessons learned from past experiences. Ask open-ended questions — those that require more than just a simple “yes” or “no” answer. For example:
• Describe a politically sensitive or challenging situation in your former workplace and how you helped resolve the problem.
• Tell me about a professional setback and what you learned from it.
Try to engage the candidates in conversations that will provide additional insight into their personalities, teamwork abilities and conflict-resolution skills. Discuss trends in management and then segue into more specific scenarios that address the applicants’ business acumen. For example:
• Tell me about a time when you were successful in presenting a new idea to senior management.
• How do you manage a multi-faceted project involving more than one department?

Assess Their Motivation
When you’re faced with choosing between two equally qualified candidates, the job seekers’ enthusiasm for the position can be a deciding factor. Applicants who demonstrate an eagerness to learn and take on new challenges will bring this same initiative to their jobs. Some key questions designed to gauge the candidates’ level of motivation include: • How do you keep your skills current?• How do you keep a project running smoothly?To determine the candidates’ attitude toward work, you might ask them each to talk about their best and worst past jobs and the insights gained from these experiences. Responses may reveal important information about the applicants’ ability to adapt to varying work environments and management styles.

Finally, introduce the candidates to potential coworkers to see if they interact well with them. Doing so will give you an indication of how the applicants would work with your full-time employees on a daily basis. Schedule brief follow-up meetings between you and your staff members and ask for their feedback.When it comes down to making your final hiring decision, ask pointed questions — one candidate will emerge as the better “fit” with your group. Other attributes being equal, you can’t go wrong by choosing the applicant who exhibits greater flexibility, open-mindedness and an eagerness to learn.

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