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Equally Qualified Candidates? Tips on Breaking the Tie

The state of our economy over the past few years saw many people losing their jobs, even long-term positions. For companies ready to hire again, they will likely be inundated with resumes from qualified job seekers. In fact, this could actually create what can only be considered a “good” problem for an employer. What do you do when you have two equally qualified candidates vying for the same position? How do you choose? How do you know you are making the right choice? Here are some key factors to consider:

One way to distinguish the employee is to try to examine their character. This isn’t something you can get from a paper resume. You need to look at the simple things, such as the candidate’s demeanor during the job search. A prospective hire that projects optimism is probably going to be easier to work with than one who appears to be visibly responding to stress. When the candidate actually meets you, the potential employer, their stress to the job search should be even more apparent.

When the equally qualified candidate actually interviews, pay close attention to if they maintain eye contact. Maintaining eye contact is a great indicator of confidence in an individual. Also how do they present themselves? Do they appear desperate, or are they confident in their skill and what they can bring to the company. Without looking at any gaps on their resume, does their demeanor give any indication how long they’ve been on the job search?

Another potential tie-breaker is the amount of preparation the candidates have put into the interview. As a hiring manager you can tell if an interviewee is winging it or not, from their cover letter and resume, to the actual interview. The candidate that looks great on paper, might not be prepared when it comes to answering and asking questions.

While there are some tough questions that a candidate might not be prepared for, if they’re prepared for that situation, then they’ve taken the proper steps of preparation. Responses where the candidate offers a potential idea, or asks to get back to you on an answer, these answers demonstrate that they can handle the tough situation on their feet and know the appropriate response.

Culture Fit
Whichever candidate is chosen will of course be working closely with others, so employers need to discern which candidate’s personality will supplement the others on the team. For this reason it makes sense to get other employees in on the decision making process.

Asking the candidate about their interests and hobbies, and checking their social media sites, will help you identify if they’re a fit with current employees. If they can match their energy to that of the interviewer, that may show they’ll fit in better than their prospective rival.

The candidate who openly expresses their desire for the job, who asks questions about potential problems the company faces and can offer solutions based on previous experience is the ideal candidate. The candidate who follows up with a phone call or a letter is someone you want on your team more than the person who doesn’t.

Bring it all together with a video resume.
One thing a candidate can do that will separate him/her from the others is present you with a video resume. The video resume, if done correctly, will highlight the applicant’s stellar qualities which apply to the job you are hiring for. A well done video can really set an applicant apart as it complements (and is more exciting than) their paper resume, and you can really get a taste of the applicant’s personality.

When two applicants are equally qualified on paper, a video resume allows you to judge their communication skills, personality, charisma, as well as their overall character, preparation, cultural fit and effort. This is something the candidate might do before hand, or it’s always something you can ask the candidates to provide.

While two candidates can be equally qualified on paper, it’s when you apply these ideas, you’re able to make the best decision on breaking the tie. In the meantime, be grateful for your problem. It’s a lot better than having to roll the dice between several unqualified candidates, isn’t it?

Have you ever experienced the difficult tie breaker scenario? What did you do to ultimately identify the right fit for your company? Did it work out?

Image courtesy of Google Images “Win-Lose Dice”

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writers career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Connect with Heather and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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