how do employers choose when they have tons of great candidates?

How do employers choose from among many great candidates?

I wrote recently about the fact that lots of great job candidates are getting rejected these days because in this job market, there are more good candidates than there are jobs available. When I have tons of great candidates and only one slot to hire for, by definition lots of really good candidates are going to get rejected. My point was that job seekers shouldn’t beat themselves up because it’s (probably) not them, it’s the market.

In response, a few people asked how employers do make a decision when they have so many great candidates to choose from. Is it random selection?

When hiring managers have the luxury of many outstanding candidates to pick from and think that any of them would do an excellent job, here are the factors that usually help make the decision:

– Among a group of great candidates, are any “more great” than others? I often find myself with many candidates I’d be happy to hire, but one in particular who stands out as the dream candidate. Maybe it’s her experience, or writing, or industry knowledge. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t reflect poorly on the other good candidates, but can make one person stand out as the one to hire in a strong group.

– How is each candidate likely to get along with the manager? Is the manager’s management style likely to be a particular good or bad fit with any of them?

– How much of a culture fit is each candidate? Do any seem like they’d easily embrace the company culture, and do any seem like they’d struggle to assimilate? Culture matters because it’s the invisible force that controls “how we do things here.”

– How much does each candidate seem to want this particular job? I’d rather have a candidate who’s going to be excited to come to work and will stay a long time than one who sees it as “just business.”

– Who do we most want to work with? All other things being equal, maybe one candidate seems especially on our wave-length (and thus easy to work with), or especially likely to bring cheer into the office, or markedly equipped to handle the office’s difficult personalities.

– Does anyone bring a “bonus” that isn’t a job requirement but which would help our work, such as fluency in another language or professional copy editing skills?

Keep in mind, though, that in a job market like this one, with more great candidates than jobs, you can be fantastic and still lose out to someone else. It doesn’t say anything about you; it says something about math.