About the author: Phil Sheridan is the managing director for Robert Half International’s UK operations
High-quality talent is hard to come by. If you’re lucky enough to have two equally qualified candidates competing for the same role, you’ll need to act fast if you’re going to secure your top choice.
Before you begin to look at new ways to assess your final two candidates, it’s helpful to explore new data from the Office for National Statistics so you can make an objective, informed decision.
Current UK employment market
Employment has continued to rise over the last five years, with the private sector taking the largest share of professionals. The market has also seen a large influx of self-employed individuals with niche, specialist skills.
Interim and temporary employee numbers have soared from just 14,000 to 4.80 million year-on-year, meaning that finding and keeping a highly skilled individual for a permanent in-house role is harder than ever.
- Employment rate is 74.9%, the highest since record began
- There are 115,00 more private sector professionals than in December 2016
- 70.4% of women are in work—the highest rate since records began
Although 56% of financial services firms recently stated that they were hiring for permanent finance and accounting professionals, the FinTech sector growth spurt is adding hiring pressure. Traditional firms are losing skilled talent to start-ups, who are perceived to be more fresh and innovative.
The digital transformation that many workplaces are currently undergoing means that nearly half of businesses (46%) are creating new teams and a third (31%) are hiring new technology professionals.
Almost a third (32%) of HR directors have said that they’re increasing the number of administrative and HR professionals within their company. The need to maintain service levels and manage digital communications has meant that these roles are becoming key to economic growth.
Skills shortage in the UK
Determining how to choose between two candidates for a job isn’t the only concern that businesses face. Our research shows that 92% of HR directors are finding it a challenge to source skilled professionals. When you combine that with longer hiring times, acting quickly and decisively when making your choice becomes a top priority.
To navigate the technology talent shortage, a third (33%) of finance leaders say they plan to launch upcoming transformation projects with the help of temporary or interim professionals.
Compliance, accounting, and business/financial analysis remain some of the harder roles to fill within the accounting and finance sectors, due to changing regulations and reporting standards.
When you look at the hiring landscape as a whole, it’s not hard to see why having two highly skilled candidates to choose from is a rare luxury. But how do you determine the better fit?
Choosing between two equally qualified candidates
Although there are plenty of tried and tested interview techniques, being torn between two job candidates means you’ll have to use new ways to assess what a ‘good fit’ looks like.
1. Look at the long-term
Immediate needs may feel more pressing, but don’t forget to look to the future when choosing between two candidates for a job. Businesses are changing rapidly to negotiate the digital shift, so it’s worth considering which candidate suits your business’ long-term plans. Assess which candidate displays a wider range of useful technical skills, an interest in learning and development or good leadership potential.
2. A company culture fit
Finding the right fit for your company culture can mean the difference between an employee who stays until that ‘new job excitement’ wears off, and one that integrates faster, performs better and stays longer.
Our research into happiness at work showed that employees who felt they had good relationships with teammates were 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job. From this perspective, the right candidate will bring a healthy mix of appropriate temperament to the team dynamic, as well as skills.
3. Interest and enthusiasm
When you think back to your meetings with both candidates, which of them seemed the most engaged throughout the process? Who asked questions and seemed the most inspired? Which candidate was the quickest to follow-up with you after the interview? Recalling details like this can help you gauge which candidate wanted the position more.
Still can’t decide?
If you’ve used all these assessment methods and still can’t decide which candidate to hire, then you might like to consider hiring both.
Due to a depleted candidate market, finding two great candidates is a rare opportunity to grow your business with quality talent. If the decision to hire both is supported and sustainable long-term, ensure that you differentiate each role, making them independent from one another, so each employee feels like their contribution makes a difference.
Once you’ve made your decision, take a few extra steps to really impress your preferred candidate to get them on-board swiftly to ensure they don’t opt for a competing offer.