Candidate A, B, or C: who to choose?

A small finance team in Queensland interviewed three candidates for their open administrative position.

They liked all three candidates and had a difficult time deciding which one should be offered the job.

Did they want Cindy who had a background in the industry? Arianne with the unstoppable energy, or Bob with extensive experience in spreadsheets?

Choosing the right person is a challenge across all industries and job categories. From casual interview banter to differing opinions within an interview team, making the right decision isn’t so simple.

Loose interview structure and decision-making

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Iris Bohnet shares, “While unstructured interviews consistently receive the highest ratings for perceived effectiveness from hiring managers, dozens of studies have found them to be among the worst predictors of actual on-the-job performance — far less reliable than general mental ability tests, aptitude tests, or personality tests.”

In other words, by not having a formalised interview and evaluation process, your hiring is left to subjective whims rather than concrete information.

Resisting an interview evaluation system

It’s easy to want to do things the way they’ve always been done or make a hiring decision based on a gut feeling or “good vibe.”

Iris Bohnet describes the unwillingness of having a more structured approach may stem from managers who are “overconfident about their own expertise and experience.”

Using a system to help you make the best hiring decision could mean the difference between recruiting an all-star and managing the day-to-day of a low performer.

So what’s the best way to critique a candidate?

Let’s go back to Cindy, Arianne, and Bob: candidates C, A, and B.

How can the team make a decision based on objective matters rather subjective impressions?

How do you know if A, B or C will perform well on the job?

Using a standard rating

By creating a standard evaluation for candidates, you’re helping yourself narrow down a number of factors and character traits.

And your rating system doesn’t need to be complex.

It just needs to be specific and tailored to your team’s needs.

5 easy steps to designing a candidate rating guide

Whether you interview prospective employees often, or hire only a few times a year, you can put together a candidate rating protocol that will make hiring easier and more accurate.

1. Pick 3 qualities that are demonstrated by your high performers.
Is it the ability to think innovatively? Communicate well with business partners? Or stay calm in times of stress? By narrowing down the elements that give power to your high performers, you can look for these same traits in candidates.

2. Choose 3 qualities that are important for top-performance in the specific job you’re hiring for. 
Again, think of employees who do this job well or who’ve done it well in the past. What makes them so successful?

3. Review your list by ensuring you have clear titles for each quality and a short description.
This ensures new interviewers know exactly what they mean.

4. Add a ranking system from 1 to 5, such as:

  1. = Does not demonstrate this quality
  2. = Demonstrates this quality ocassionally in their answers
  3. = Demonstrates this quality regularly in their answers
  4. = Demonstrates this quality often in their answers
  5. = Demonstrates this quality extensively throughout their interview

5. Title to your “Candidate Evaluation” page.
And a provide space for interviewers to add the total score together.

6. Hardwire the evaluation into your interview process.
By ensuring its enclosed with every interview packet.

By using a simple rating system like the above, you and other interviewers can watch for key elements found in only the highest performers.

But that’s not all

A candidate’s score should not make your final decision.

Any evaluation system should only help with your hiring choices. You’ll still want to discuss the candidates with all interviewers and come to a cohesive decision based on the candidate’s rating and overall fit for the job.

Your evaluation system simply allows you to have a more fact-based discussion. Strong opinions can be backed with clear information about why candidate A, B, or C is the right choice.

Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.

Thanks for sharing!