Ask a Recruiter: How Do I Decide Between Two Strong Final-Round Candidates?

Ask a Recruiter, For Employers

This is the second installment of our series “Ask a Recruiter,” in which we pose a question to our executive recruiters about hiring, interviewing, the job search, and more. If you have any questions you’d like to ask for this series, please leave them in the comments.

Question: How do I decide between two strong final-round candidates?


Kelly Nelson, Executive Recruiter specializing in the Hospitality and Tourism industries

Ultimately, the final decision between two fully qualified candidates should be based on your corporate culture. I always suggest that clients choose candidates that are complimentary to their culture, and compatible to the personalities and work habits of existing staff. This will require some diligent work early in the interview process. The real concern should be employee retention.

Too many clients make the final decision based on salary, relocation cost, or other economic concerns. The real concern should be employee retention, and the ongoing need to build a consistent and balanced organization, reflective of your mission and your culture.

Kristina Paudler, Executive Recruiter specializing in the Hospital and Healthcare industries

When faced with making the decision to hire one of two strong candidates, I would always suggest conducting another interview and bringing in another hiring authority or leader from a department who might be interacting with this candidate regularly. Rather than focusing on skill sets and qualifications as the basis for the interview, I would recommend conducting an interview focused on emotional intelligence and personality. Considering a candidate has made it this far into the interview process, it’s clear that they’ve got what it takes to get the job done; but what about their personality or ability to align with your company’s culture? Do they possess the qualities that support the vision of the company and interact well cross-functionally? Does the candidate get excited about the mission and vision of the company and speaks passionately about it? I would recommend conducting an interview focused on emotional intelligence and personality.

Additionally, understanding how they manage, communicate and lead people is critical. Asking more situational questions geared towards how they reacted or would react to certain scenarios could be examples in helping determine a tough hiring decision.

If after multiple rounds of interviews candidates are still equally favored, another recommendation to organizations about deciding between the two candidates would be—can the company hire them both? Is there another opportunity within the organization that one of candidates might be suited for also? Gosh, if they’ve identified two solid candidates, why not reap the rewards rather than run the risk of losing a potentially stellar employee who is passionate about the company!

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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