• April 24, 2019

Choosing the right candidate

Choosing the right candidate

153 85 Yasmin Aslam

Choosing the right candidate is not always easy!  The recruitment process can be tough, especially in a candidate short market, but sometimes you can be really lucky and (I’m not going to say they’re like buses) but you can be in the fortunate position where you have two great candidates ready to join your team – but how do you decide which one to offer?

As specialist recruiters for the not for profit and public sector, we have on more than one occasion been faced with the scenario where a client is unable to decide between two equally skilled and strong candidates.  In this situation our advice comes down to just a few points, but they can make all the difference:

Take a long-term view

Although both candidates might be right for the role now, consider which one would be better 3or 5 years from now?  Take into account the future plans of the organisation, who would work better in a bigger team, or who would want to stay in a smaller organisation?  Any recruitment process is costly so you will want to avoid having to run the process again too soon for the wrong reason. Consider which of the two candidates has the right career aspirations to fit the role and your organisation – do they have ambitions to progress within your organisation, or will they be looking to move on after a few years?  If your organisation has plans to grow and develop, who do you think will thrive under a changing environment?

Further Testing

If you haven’t already, run some online testing – psychometric or similar, these tests can be an effective way to understand how candidates naturally react in certain situations.  There isn’t usually a right or wrong answer, but it is a useful way to understand an individual’s strength or weakness in a given situation; under pressure, working or leading big groups, communicating with key stakeholders, working to their own initiative.  How will their instinctive reactions fit the needs of your organisation?  Do their natural strengths fit the requirements of the role?

Meet the team

If possible, get both candidates to meet some of the team in a relaxed and informal setting.  The candidates will be more relaxed in a non-interview scenario which will give you better insight into their personality.  Your team will feel they have been involved in the process and you get the benefit of their feedback.

Hunger and enthusiasm

Re-evaluate the interviews considering; Which of the candidates seemed the most engaged with the organisation and the role?  Who asked the most relevant questions – did they listen to the answers and ask further questions? Who seemed the most inspired?  How did they follow up with you after their interview?  All these questions will help you gauge how engaged and excited they are for the position.

Understanding the candidate expectations

Before making your final decision and making an offer be sure you know and understand each candidate’s expectations for the role, the prospects of career progression, salary, benefits package and notice period.  It might be that one candidate is more likely to accept your offer than the other.


Throughout the whole process it’s critical that you keep the momentum moving forward and keep both candidates well informed.  If the process becomes drawn-out you may risk losing one or both candidates to other offers. In the end, you must also trust your gut instinct.  Instincts are not fool proof but they’re often right!  Once your decision is made and your offer has been accepted it’s vitally important that you communicate your decision as quickly as possible to the unsuccessful candidate and take the time to give them valuable feedback. If your candidate is having to work a lengthy notice period impress them with regular contact so that they don’t become distant and, worse case scenario, end up accepting an alternative or counter offer.

Having two appointable candidates is a great position to be in but if you don’t manage the process sensitively you can risk losing one or both.  If, however you’re struggling with a role you’re recruiting and would like to see some good quality candidates to compare against your existing shortlist, do contact us on 0203 824 7100 or info@robertsonbell.co.uk.

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