Top talent is hard to find. You will need to act fast to secure your top choice if you have to choose between two equally qualified candidates competing for the same role.

Before exploring new ways to assess your candidates, data from the Office for National Statistics will be useful to look at, make an objective and informed decision.

Current Job Market

For the past 5 years, employment has continued to rise, private sector leading the pack with the largest share of professionals. A large of influx of entrepreneurs and people with niche skills have been seen in the market. Contract to hires have soared from just 14,000 to 4.8 million year on year, meaning that finding and keeping specialist skill sets people in-house 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

Conventional businesses are losing niche talent to start-ups – perceived to be more innovative and fresh. Many workplaces are undergoing digital transformation, meaning that almost half (46%) of businesses are creating new teams and a third (31%) are hiring new people. HR directors say that they’re increasing the number of HR and administrative personnel 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

A majority of recruiters state that they are finding it difficult to source skilled professionals. Determining how to choose between two candidates isn’t the only concern when you combine the shortage of skilled talent with long hiring times. You must act quickly and decisively when making a choice. 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? Although there are plenty of tried and tested interview techniques, being torn between two job candidates means you’ll have to employ new methods to assess what a ‘perfect fit’ looks like.

Look to the future

Although immediate needs may be more pressing, don’t forget to look to the future when choosing between two equally qualified 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.

Cultural 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. Research shows that employees who have good a relationship with their teammates are 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job. Hence, the perfect candidate will bring in not just skills, but also a healthy mix and appropriate temperament to the team dynamic as well. as skills.


When you think back, about 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.

Can’t decide who’s the best?

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.