Choosing the Ideal Candidate: Best Practices

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    (Before reading this topic, be sure to read the definitions and various steps in the staffing process to notice where this topic fits in the overall process.)

    How to Choose the Best Candidate

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

    At this point, there usually is one or two candidates who clearly stand out as the most qualified for the job. However, it is surprising how much interviewers’ impressions can change once they all have an opportunity to carefully discuss and consider all of the candidates. Be sure your approach to selecting the best candidate is a comprehensive and consistent approach.

    Soon after interviews are completed, interviewers together select the best candidate.

    Within one or at most two weeks after all interviews have been completed, convene the interviewers. Consider a consistent method to select the best candidate from among the interviewers. For example, mention the name of a candidate, and allow 15 minutes total for all interviewers to share their impressions of that candidate. Also, share the results of any comments from references and/or background checks. Repeat the process for each candidate. After all candidates have been discussed, then list the candidates again, this time having interviewers vote for the best candidate from the list.

    If there does not seem to be a suitable candidate, then consider the following:

    Are the job requirements too stringent or an odd mix? For example, the job might require someone with strong technical skills and also someone with strong clerical skills. Those two types of skills are sometimes unusual to expect to mix together.

    1. Reconfigure the job so that the nature of the required skills and training are somewhat similar and so that the overall nature of the job becomes more common.
    2. Hire the candidate who most closely matches the requirements of the job and then plan for dedicated training to bring that person’s skills up to needed levels.
    3. Re-advertise the position.
    4. Get advice from a human resources professional. At this point, your need for their advice is probably quite specific, so they might provide services on a pro bono basis.
    5. Hire a consultant for the position on a short-term basis, but only as a last resort as this may be quite expensive.

    How to Hire a New Employee

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

    You send a strong message to the candidate in the way that you provide the job offer to them. It is best to be both business-like and personal in your approach.

    1. Provide a written job offer to the most qualified candidate.

    The letter should come from the person who will be supervising the new employee. In the letter:

    1. Convey that you are pleased to offer the job to the candidate.
    2. Specify the exact amount of compensation offered to him/her.
    3. Specify the benefits offered to him/her.
    4. Specify the date on which to start the job.
    5. Include a signature line that the candidate can sign.
    6. Ask him/her to sign a copy of the offer letter and return it to you by a certain date. Give them at least one week to consider the job offer.
    7. Mention if there is a probationary period and the length of the period.
    8. Mention who he/she can contact if there are any questions.
    9. Attach a copy of the job description to be sure that the offer is associated with the correct job.

    2. If everyone declines the job offer, then consider the following:

    1. Ask the best candidates why they declined the offer. Usually, you will hear the same concerns, for example, the pay is too low, the benefits incomplete, the organization seems confused about what it wants from the role, or the interview process seems hostile or contentious.
    2. Reconvene the interviewers and consider what you heard from the candidates. Recognize what went wrong and correct the problem. Contact your favorite candidate, admit the mistake what you did to correct it, and why you would like to make an offer to him/her again.
    3. Go to the second choice. Sometimes the process of re-examining the candidates can bring a second-choice candidate to the front.
    4. Re-advertise the position.

    3. Otherwise, start a personnel file for the new employee.

    The personnel file contains all of the job-related information and material, for example, the employee’s resume, job description, job offer, signed offer letter, completed tax withholding forms, signed forms for benefits, etc.

    4. Do not forget to send letters to the candidates who did not get the job.

    They deserve a sincere letter from you that thanks them for their consideration and for interviewing for the job. Clearly explain that another candidate most closely matched the qualifications specified in the job description. If you plan to retain their job applications, then mention that to them so they are aware that they still might be considered for other jobs that arise in the organization.

    Return to Staffing for the next step in the staffing process.

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