Need a place to go to get the solutions you’ve been raving? Management Fix is what you’ve been looking for. In this issue, find out how to choose between two great candidates when you have only one open position.
One open position to fill—two outstanding candidates. What do you do? Both candidates performed well in the interview and on a technical audition. You used behavior description questions to understand what each candidate has accomplished professionally and consensus decision-making to verify that everyone in the group is agreeable to working with either candidate. You can’t get approval to hire both candidates. What now?
If you can’t decide between two great candidates, you may not have enough information about what you want or about what each candidate offers. Ask yourself these questions:
- What can the candidate contribute to my group today, not in the future? Sometimes, we forget about our immediate needs and look at a candidate based on anticipated future performance.
- How quickly can each candidate learn the product internals—and the problems the customers want the product to solve? If the candidate has worked on similar products or in a similar industry, that candidate may be able to adapt her skills and expertise more quickly to your project than another candidate.
- What technical and non-technical expertise does the candidate bring to the group? I like to build groups where each person has some unique skills so I can use the group to mentor and coach each other.
Make sure you've done all your homework. Turn on your personal "Way-back" machine and journey back to the time before you started interviewing candidates. Go all the way back to when you determined your hiring strategy, analyzed the job, and wrote the job description. When determining your hiring strategy, you answered the questions "Why am I hiring?" and "What am I looking for?" Maybe you decided you were looking for a person with similar abilities to the group you already have. Maybe you were looking for someone with unique technical skills or someone who could shake up your group. Whatever your hiring strategy, you defined why you were looking for an additional employee. Revisit those reasons with respect to your current candidates.
Take a look at your job analysis—your requirements definition for candidates. In the job analysis, you considered the non-technical skills, such as communication skills, initiative, and organization, as well as technical skills. If working in an agile environment, for example, you considered verbal communication skills, not just writing skills. People who have to talk to each other daily need to be articulate.
When you wrote your job description, you thought about the relative seniority of the ideal candidate—whether he should be more senior or less senior than your current staff. You also considered the kinds of functional skills and domain expertise required. Functional skills are the abilities of a developer to analyze, design, develop, and debug. For a tester, functional skills are the variety of ways the tester knows how to test, how to plan testing, and how to report problems. Domain expertise is the understanding the candidate has of your product, both on the problem side and on the solution side.
If you haven't done all of these things, take a few minutes and fill in the parts you missed. Make sure you've clearly defined the performance you're looking for in a candidate and why. Determine which "soft" skills you require and how to interview for them.
Discover what your interview team thinks of the candidates. Try asking "What makes this candidate a 'perfect ten' for us right now?" Listen for the similarities and, more importantly, the differences between the candidates. Then review your hiring strategy and see which candidate fits your immediate needs best.
If you've done all of this and still can't choose between the candidates,
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