By: Diane Williams
After the long job hunting stints and all, a hiring manager will eventually come up with a short list of “qualified candidates” for the vacant position. Then the list will be trimmed down to twenty, ten, five, until it all goes down to one ultimate “job candidate,” the one that will be hired. But of course before any candidate gets hired, he or she gets to compete with another individual who’s also vying for the position.
Okay, this competition will eventually produce a “single best,” but not until the job is offered to one candidate. More likely, hiring managers will keep two candidates for salary negotiation stage.
So how do hiring managers evaluate and choose between two “qualified” candidates? Here is a list that you can use to your advantage when you are faced with this kind of situation:
1. Years of related experience
Hiring managers will likely compare two candidates base on the number of years that they have been in the industry. Most likely, the one with a broader related experience gets the “plus points.”
So, as an applicant, you need to show a hiring manager that you have significant years in the industry. How is this effectively shown? By mentioning some field-related terms or phrases and talking about the projects that you successfully handled can give hiring managers a hint that “Hey, this guy’s experience is great. Maybe I should consider him.”
Now, in case you don’t have anything to show-off a hiring manager because you’re a career-changer or has just graduated, place emphasis on your skills and experience in similar fields. For instance, you can emphasize the volunteer activities that you handled before that is correlated to the position you are applying for.
2. History of promotion at past companies
Aside from the experience, hiring managers compare the rate of promotion for both candidates. Who has the steady rate of promotion? Who has a tendency to get demoted? How long does it take for each individual to get promoted to a certain level?
For the competing applicant, it is best that you back your claims for promotion through supporting documents (that can be contained in your portfolio). Now if you’re just starting out in the industry, better equip yourself with proof of achievements and commendable accomplishments that you did in your previous companies. Have you received the “employee of the month” award? Get a proof that you had one and place it in your portfolio.
3. Performance Evaluation Scores
Hiring managers also refer to performance evaluation scores of their chosen candidates. These scores are requested by the hiring manager to see who among the two applicants have a more positive recommendation or review from their previous companies.
Now, make sure that you have a copy of your performance evaluations from your past employers.
4. Strength of references’ recommendations
So after considering all of these items, a hiring manager will also check the impression that you were able to make to others. This is accomplished through reference checking. Hiring managers evaluate and compare how positive your previous boss’ words about you with that of your competitor.
This is one part that you can control as an applicant. Make sure to choose the references that you’re going to include in your proposal. If you can, send them your resume so they’ll be abreast with your career. Also, it is relevant to keep your bridges in good shape. Conflicts between you and your boss must be settled before you leave, otherwise, you’ll receive a bad reference from them. As you know, bad references from former employers can hurt your chances of being employed.
5. Skill set match
It is also important to note that hiring managers also evaluate applicants based on their skills and how those skills “fit” into the needs of a position.
As an applicant, make sure that even right before you apply for a position, you have equipped yourself with the much-needed skills in the field. This is highly recommended for applicants who are changing careers and may lack the specific skills for the job. By taking up short courses and certifications, you can prepare and equip yourself with skills and proficiencies needed in your target position.
6. Work style and ethics
The behavior also plays a crucial role in the selection process. Since hiring managers will work with one of these individuals, they need to gauge how these candidates can relate with their colleagues. Of course, it’s a no brainer that hiring manager will pick job candidates who can get along with other employees.
7. Salary expectation
Hiring managers are very meticulous about salary expectations. If your salary expectation falls beyond the “realistic range,” most likely you’re not going to get the job. However, if you ask for a lower salary that is not aligned with your qualifications, you’ll appear questionable.
Now what happens when it’s still a tie? Well, hiring managers can’t possibly hire the three of you (or even both of you) unless there’s enough vacancy for all. With that, the “subjective issues” would be considered. Common tie-breakers are the candidate’s personality match and he’s desire to work for the company. After all, passion and character make any workplace a more bearable area to work for and be productive with.
Diane Williams has 15 years of experience mentoring human resource professionals and recruitment agency personnel.