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You’ve narrowed your pool of applicants down to two (or maybe three) final contenders, and so far, the process has been fairly easy. These finalists clearly stand head and shoulders above most of the other applicants in the group, and a few rounds of resume reviews and in-depth interviews have easily identified them and set them apart from the crowd.
But now what? Suddenly, the process isn’t so easy anymore. But you have no choice but to move forward. If you could, you would hire all of them in a heartbeat, but that just isn’t possible. You’ll need to make a difficult decision, and you’ll need to live with this decision over the long term. It’s time to roll the dice. Before you say yes to one and let the others go, keep these tips in mind.
Remember the “house” analogy.
Choosing a candidate is often compared to buying a house; the agent may show you three or four contenders, all of which have something great to offer. House A has beautiful lighting, House B lies in a perfect neighborhood, and House C fits your budget. But none of the houses on the list offer 100 percent of everything you need. So what’s next? Start by prioritizing your needs. Take lighting, location, and cost and arrange them in order of importance.
Factor in the needs of the candidates.
Add one more item to your list of priorities: Candidate requirements. John may present the strongest offerings in your most important criteria category, but over the long term, he’ll want to advance in a direction your company can’t support. Mary wants to hold this position for more than five years. John will give you everything you need right now. But Mary might be happier here and might stay longer. Which matters more?
Ask a few final questions.
Don’t call your candidates in for too many rounds of in-person interviews; this can signal disrespect for their time. Three rounds should be more than enough. But if you have one or two final, pointed questions that can separate the top two contenders, feel free to ask them by phone or email. Be bold and direct as you gather the information you need.
Prepare for a no.
If you decide to make your offer to John, know what you’ll do if he says no. Don’t alienate Mary, don’t formally send her away, and stay diplomatic about the fact that she’s your second choice. Keep your runners up close and on good terms until the deal is in the books and the candidate’s start date is scheduled. Even then, maintain a positive relationship with all of your final contenders for the sake of your company’s reputation and workplace brand.
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