Two Equally-Qualified Job Candidates? How Do I Choose?

VUCA MTDYou’ve decided that two candidates for an important role in the department should be invited back for a further interview. Both have similar experience and backgrounds…both would fit in well with your team. Here are some questions that might help you differentiate between them.

You need to convince me you’re the right person for the job. What can you tell me that would make me say ‘yes’?”

This will prove their selling-of-self abilities. What you want to hear is why not hiring them would be the biggest mistake of your life. You’re listening for passion and enthusiasm for the future role they will play for you. Listen out for the skills, qualities and abilities that would make a real difference to your team. If they are just a clone of what you already have, maybe you need to probe deeper to find the value in hiring them.

Another question that might test them is: “How do you think our company values and vision sets us apart from our competition?”

This deeper question will tell you how much preparation they have made and how they think they can fit in with the culture of your company. It also provides insight into how they view your strengths and weaknesses against the competition.

You want to employ people who go beyond the typical preparation of their own strengths and weaknesses. You want people who have already shown commitment and forward-thinking by highlighting their value to you and your team.

You also want to see how the candidate’s reaction to adversity might have affected them, as this may differentiate personal qualities you are seeking. So, asking what some setbacks in their past may have taught them helps you identify how robust they might be in dealing with difficult situations within their role. You might ask, “What have any major setbacks you’ve experienced taught you?”

Be prepared for silence after this question, as they may have to delve deep. But wait for their response, as it will tell you how they learn from experiences, just the kind of person you want in your team. By the way, if they say they can’t remember any setbacks, probe deeper, as a person who hasn’t been taught lessons from something going wrong may not have the characteristics or thinking skills to help the department steady itself after problems are encountered.

The answers to these questions just might help you differentiate the candidates, and give you an insight as to who would prove more valuable to you in the long run.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 27 February, 2019

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