How to Pick the BEST Candidate in a Pool of Qualified Candidates

best-candidate-annWhen a hiring manager has multiple qualified candidates to choose from, how can they narrow down the field in order to choose the very best applicant that has the highest chance of success?

Human behaviorists tell us that there are three very specific indicators, that if probed for, should help us determine which candidate will be the best choice for a specific opportunity.


How much experience do they have actually doing what you need them to do, and how successful were they? We also call these HARD SKILLS. These are tangible skill sets that should be appraised to determine how proficient they are in the required duties of their prospective new role.

  • This is typically determined by looking at a candidate’s prior work history, and evaluating how they performed doing similar tasks that they will be required to do in the new role. Having them show you, rather than tell you how to accomplish specific tasks should give you a good idea of what you can expect if you hire this person.


Another way to evaluate this is to try to get a feel for how PASSIONATE the candidate is for this particular role. Are they simply looking for a job, or do they ASPIRE to do this kind of work? With all else being equal, nothing can beat ENTHUSIASM for a role. If a candidate shows that they have a yearning for this opportunity, with a ‘fire in the belly’ to dive in, that should be given substantial weight.

  • Question them as to why they want this particular job and listen to what they have to say. Is it simply just a way to earn a living, or do they have a longing to do this specific type of work? Asking what they enjoy doing in their time off can also give additional insight into what makes a particular candidate ‘tick’.


How committed a candidate is for this role will primarily be determined by the previous questions. If this is a dream job for them, you can guess that they will be diving in with both feet and doing everything in their power to stay. However, if this is simply a stop-gap paycheck, while they pursue their true passion, you can bet they will be gone when a better paycheck becomes available.

  • Question their long-range goals, and drill down into their dream job. Take them back through their work history and go over each place of employment, asking what they liked and did not like about each role they were in, and what prompted them to leave. Asking what their goals are for 1, 3 and 5 years down the line, in terms of career path. Does your company offer the opportunities that they desire? The answers to these questions, combined with the answers to #2, will tell you what kind of commitment you can reasonably expect from your prospective candidate.

In order to get the information you need to make an informed decision, it is critical to give some serious thought to the questions that you will be asking your prospective candidates during the interview process. By asking the right questions, and then listening to the responses, it should become clear which candidates exhibit the three key factors listed above.

What should you do if you still have a strong pool of candidates, that have tested high in some areas and lower in others?

  • Verify again that all of your candidates have all the mandatory skill sets in terms of ability… this is absolutely critical.
  • After that, rank each candidate on a scale of 1-5, depending how you assess their strengths in each of the three critical areas: Ability, Aspiration and Engagement.
  • Adding up the totals at the end, should allow you to compare candidates side by side, and enable you to make an informed hiring decision.


Ann Zaslow-Rethaber

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber

A recruiter since 1996, Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is the president of International Search Consultants, a global executive recruiting firm launched in 1999.

ISC has become one of the country’s most reputable search firms, earning more recommendations on Linked In than any other 3rd party recruiting agency in the entire country. With a team of 15 talented recruiters, utilizing the very best high- tech tools available, ISC can produce highly qualified candidates for companies with hi-volume recruiting needs.

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