How to Choose Between Two Candidates

It's been interesting working with Founders and CEOs on their strategic hires lately. In fact, here are a few hiring insights we've already shared about the state of the market and what we've been dealing with.

Along the journey of most searches, the hire becomes obvious, standing out from the rest of the candidates interviewed. However, over the last few months, a number of our clients have been in the enviable situation of struggling to choose between two amazing candidates.

If you find yourself getting close to the end of the selection process and are struggling between two excellent candidates, here are some practical steps to help you pick the right hire:

Be Transparent with your Search Partner

If you have engaged a third-party search partner to lead the recruitment efforts, you will benefit from their insights about your two finalists. They should know more about the candidates’ histories and which one is most likely to accept your offer and why.

The concern when extending an offer to a candidate, who is not ready to commit, is that you risk losing the backup while you wait for this candidate to maybe decide they want to join.

A search partner, on the other hand, will have insight into the minds of both the candidates allowing them to better manage the messaging and timelines to ensure an optimal outcome.

Go Back to Day One Requirements

Can they do the job? At the end of the day, that is what makes a hire successful. But as time wears on during a search, it's normal for a CEO to get excited about all the candidates they're meeting. It's also possible a CEO could get emotionally invested trying to secure a specific person, or two!

By returning to day one of the search, and measuring the two candidates against the original requirements, you may begin to shift your outlook more towards one.


  • Experience: Have they been through the journey that the CEO is wanting to guide the company through? 
  • Soft Skills: Are they able to articulate what they do and how they achieved it?
  • Cultural Fit: Do they complement the rest of the team? 
  • Network: For leadership positions, how connected are they in their community? (i.e. will they be able to recruit a team?)
  • Location: Are they flexible and able to accommodate whatever office location or remote working policy you have?

Ask Yourselves This Question

If you’ve completed steps one and two and still feel torn, here is the tiebreaker: "Who did I like the most?" While it seems overly simple, on the opposite side of the offer letter, we coach candidates to be sure they like the people they will be working with and working for. 

Let's face it, we spend more time at work than any other part of our life and if we don't feel like working with the team, those will feel like long and tough days. The same applies to the employer side of the offer letter. When it's a draw and you could choose from two well-qualified candidates, simply choose the one you liked the most. That emotional 'checkbox' will at the very least make you feel like you made a good decision.

Looking to make the most strategic hire for your organization? Our knowledgeable and expert team can help! Book a consultation with us today.