How hiring managers decide between two strong candidates

Imagine a situation where there are two candidates being considered for a job after multiple rounds of interviews — and you are one of them.

In the final round, only one person gets the offer and you desperately want that position. So how do you make sure that you will make the cut and get the offer letter? Read on and find how simple it is to become the chosen one.

One of the ways recruiters select between two candidates who seem well-qualified is to look beyond the qualification match wanted for the job. They will dig deeper, look for finer details and evaluate how each candidate demonstrates skills for the long term. Some key considerations could include the following.

1. Cultural fit

‘Cultural fit’ looks at a candidate’s ability to seamlessly integrate with the organization’s working style. This means asking: which one of the candidates in the final round brings in a unique set of experiences that will help the organization function better?

Notably, hiring managers ask how well the candidates fit in, how they would eventually get along socially with the team, and look at how their personality can complement the organization’s needs and so on.  Beyond considering which candidate really understands the company, is excited about the organization’s mission and has goals, they will evaluate how each candidate would be suitable for day-to-day work.

2. Soft skills

Talent acquisition professionals would also check if certain soft skills are demonstrated beyond the advertised role. For example does one candidate score more on active listening,  communication, empathy, creativity and drive? Is one candidate more motivated than the other? Is one more forward thinking than the other? Which of the candidates can hit the ground running if selected and start working with little or no supervision?  Each of these scenarios will influence the final selection.

If extra skills like knowing an additional language, a software program or an extra certification can be demonstrated, that can always be a bonus. Even a factor like which candidate promptly sent a thank you note after the interview can be a deciding factor.

3. Future potential

If both candidates possess the required technical skills, the hiring manager will look for additional areas of expertise that would benefit the organization. For instance, which candidate has more expertise in any one desired area and will that be useful in the long term?

The current need may feel more pressing, but the hiring manager will look to the future too. When it comes to a tight finish, each candidate’s potential to help grow the organization over time will play a big role.

Especially with the advent of Chat GPT and artificial intelligence, companies will consider candidates who can help them navigate the digital shift. Anyone who displays a wider range of useful technical skills, an interest in learning and development or good leadership potential will definitely have the upper hand.

4. Drive and enthusiasm

Finally, what tilts the scales in one candidate’s favour over other is the individual’s personal drive and enthusiasm. Between two candidates, how does the  interest level stack up, right from the first interview and beyond? Who seemed more enthusiastic for the job? Who asked more questions and what kind of questions? Who was more engaged throughout the process? Who followed up after the last interview to reiterate interest, and in what time frame? Details like these can be the deciding factor.

I trust that the above tips can help. Here’s wishing you all the best on your quest to become the ‘chosen’ one!

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