How Should I Decide Which Candidate to Hire?

Leora Baumgarten —  March 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

There comes a time in every recruiting project when a final decision is required. Sometimes the choice is obvious and sometimes it’s a bit less clear.

I consider myself lucky when the choice is less clear. It’s not that I enjoy worrying, though I’m pretty good at it. Rather, when I get all the way through a recruiting project and there are two strong candidates, I feel successful.

After all, recruiting is a process with more than one place to get de-railed. At NewHire we spend a lot of energy talking about 6 Steps to Hire Better. I know both from internal hiring and from the work we do with customers that each one of those 6 steps includes a substantial effort and opportunity for missteps. When I get to the end and have two finalists to choose from, I feel successful because I’ve made it to the finish line with out getting off track.

But I also feel worried. My personal goal is to use this worry as a motivation for action and NOT as a road block leading to indecision.

Here are some things I’ve done in the past to come to the final choice.

1) I review the job description and compare it to what I’ve learned about the candidate finalists.

2) I invite both candidates back for a second (or third) interview; sometimes that interview has included lunch. I include other team members so they can get to know the candidates and provide input.

3) I ask candidates to complete skills assessments and DISC and PIAV (work behavior and motivations assessments), if they haven’t already done so. And I compare their results to the benchmarks I have in place. I also talk to the candidate about their results. It can be very revealing to get the candidates own feedback on the accuracy of the assessment.

4) I call references, do background checks, Google the candidates, and look at their blogs and LinkedIn profile.

Here are some questions I ask myself and my staff, to help come to a final decision.

1) Whose work experience and past duties is the best match for the job we have outlined?

2) Are there any red flags in the behavior assessments or the reference checks etc?

3) Who brings additional skills or knowledge that we don’t already have?

4) Who is going to get along best with the team? Learn quickly? Speak up? Ask questions? Has the most potential in the future?

In the end, I go with my gut. Because I followed a process to identify the finalists, I’m confident both candidates can be successful on the job. I make a decision and extend a job offer. If I can’t come to an agreement with the first candidate, I have a hot standby and another opportunity.

Last but definitely not least: I don’t want to leave candidates waiting a long time for a decision – because the best people get other job offers.

Once the new person starts, I set up a short time horizon for the new employee’s initial review so that I can catch any issues early in the employment relationship.


Leora Baumgarten


Leora is Vice President of NewHire and a pro when it comes to hiring & recruiting for SMBs. When not at the office, you can find her swimming in Lake Michigan or spending time with her family in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Connect with her on Google+.

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