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Hiring Managers: What to Do When You Like More Than One Candidate

Hiring the right person is one of the most important decisions a hiring manager has to make. The candidate who’s chosen has to be the best fit for both your team and the organization. Turnover is expensive, given the investment a business puts into search and training, and you don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t have real potential. But, what should you do if – after facilitating the lengthy search and interview process – you’ve found yourself with more than one candidate who’s a great fit? 

If you’ve got multiple candidates in today’s competitive market, you’re in an enviable position. That said, even if you need someone right away, you don’t want to hire too quickly and make space for the wrong person. Also, you don’t want to take too much time thinking about your options, which slows down the entire process, and may influence a great candidate to seek opportunities elsewhere. At some point, all of your knowledge about the candidates, as well as your intuition, has to come together for a quality hire. 

Be Honest and Open 

One way you’ll be able to determine who’s ready to be part of your team, is to have honest conversations. From the first interview, you should be clear with candidates about what the job entails, what the opportunities for growth are, and what the pay range is. A candidate in search of a job that pays at least $80,000, will not be back if your highest offer is $60,000. 

Communicate with your candidates about where you are in the process. If your organization’s hiring method is lengthy by nature, let them know. The most interested candidates won’t ghost for a position elsewhere. As importantly, find out where they are in the process. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know you’re considering more than one candidate. Ask what’s most critical to them in regard to the position, or how your company compares to their other options. You may find they have reservations about the role or that your business isn’t their first choice. 

Follow Up with Their References 

Reference checks may give you a more nuanced look at a person’s background too. Another approach would be to follow-up on answers to questions that were asked during the initial phone screen. You may find that a candidate who had described how they would handle stress or finesse a relationship with a difficult senior colleague, might not effectively support those answers during another round of questions. 

Reexamine the Role 

Knowing what aspects of the role take precedence over another, and understanding your team’s and your company’s immediate, intermediate and long-term needs and goals, will also go a long way toward choosing the right person. If the priorities of the team are immediate, it’s obvious you’d want to hire someone who wouldn’t have to grow into the role. Conversely, if you want to hire someone who will enter the management pipeline, your goal is long-term, and the candidate’s experience should reflect that aim. 

Continue to closely evaluate how and where the candidates will fit in the team, as well as the organization at large. Ask yourself what you’d consider more valuable in the potential hires; would you want to hire someone who’s a great fit as is, or would tweaking the job a bit to better fit a candidate be a more impactful choice. 

As you enter the final phase of the hiring process, a decision has to be made, and the information you’ve collected must be thorough. If you’ve managed your role successfully, you’ll be able to determine the following:

  • The candidate’s skill set and experience are a fit for the team/organization
  • The candidate’s a cultural fit for the team/organization
  • The candidate brings value to the team/organization
  • The needs of everyone that should be involved in the hiring process has been addressed
  • You have a comprehensive assessment of each of the candidates

If you’ve ended the process, and still have two outstanding candidates – you do have an option. You may be able to make the case for hiring more than one person. By knowing what your employment needs will be in six to nine months, hiring a for a second role now could save you time and money, and if that’s the case, you’ve hit the hiring jackpot.


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