Peter Cullen is currently the author of the Career Doctor articles appearing in the Institute of Managers and Leaders publication named Leadership Matters. The columns on this page have appeared in Leadership Matters. Peter also wrote a weekly column on Workplace Behaviour for the Courier Mail in Queensland. The ebook containing the Courier Mail articles is a free download.

Choose a Candidate

How do I choose between two really good candidates?

The importance of placing the right person in a key position is paramount. Choosing the best candidate when we are working under pressure can make this difficult. This is amplified when we have two ideal candidates from which to choose after progressing through the various interview stages.

The average cost to the business for recruiting a new person is nearly $30k. More pressure if you make a mistake!

Let’s move away from the candidates for a moment and focus on ourselves and how our personality may unconsciously affect our decision making process.

Some of us are particularly good at making decisions, getting the job done and moving on to the next task without thinking too much about it. Decision making is as quick and easy as blinking and that is all there is to it.

Others spend a great deal of time analyzing all the facts and evidence to ensure we make the right decision. If we are not confident about making the right decision then we will probably need more facts and evidence to support our decision. This can be time consuming and frustrating for others.

We also have those whose inclination it is to support people as much as possible and really do not want to upset anyone. It can be personally very challenging for them to make a decision and it will normally take a long time. They may even choose to refer the decision to someone else. 

The final person will be very optimistic and more informal about it all and will help everyone to feel good whilst making the decision. They prefer to keep everyone onside and happy even when someone has to miss out.

As a person who has been in this type of situation and had to make other tough decisions, I have realised a few very important methods I have used quite successfully that are worthy of your consideration.

Talk with a trusted colleague. Having someone who is a very good listener and can ask the challenging questions helps us to see the situation from a different perspective. They may also hear your preference for a candidate by what you say and how you say it. They can feed this back to you for discussion which can be a light bulb moment.

Stop and step away from the situation. We are often too close or embedded in the process to see clearly. Engaging the brain in other activities for a suitable period of time frees us from these thoughts. This could simply be a change of environment, doing some exercise, meditation or something else you really enjoy. We will normally revisit the situation with more clarity after engaging in this.

Sleep on it. I am constantly amazed at how a good night’s sleep clears the head and enables us to see things from a different perspective which often provides greater clarity.