Some companies struggle to find the right candidate for their team. Others, however, deal with the problem of having one too many “perfect fits”. While this is a nice, and enviable, problem to have, it’s still a tough choice. Hiring the wrong candidate can be costly, and employers should have no regrets when reflecting on the hiring process.

When two candidates have similar or equivalent qualifications and experience, deciding on the better one seems impossible. Despite the chance of multiple candidates being qualified, there are other strategies employers can use to narrow things down.

Think About Soft-Skills

When both of the candidates have the hard skills necessary to perform the job, odds are that one of those candidates has soft skills that the other does not. Skills such as communication, creativity, empathy, and leadership are crucial to how employees function and interact in the workplace.

Assess the candidates’ soft skills, specifically communication, by weighing how well they convey and receive information, including emails and phone calls. Or, judge their creativity by asking them how they deal with complex problems at work or asking for new ideas and input that your company may not have considered already.

Consider Culture

Company culture compromises the environment, mission, values, and beliefs. It’s important that every employee feels at home, and interacts well with the team. For this reason, culture is always a key factor when deciding on a new hire.

Even when two candidates would excel at the job, they might not both fit in with the companies culture. Evaluate how qualified candidates match up with your company. Do they fit in perfectly? Or, maybe they bring something new to the team that will help contribute to a diverse workplace. Think about what your company culture is missing, and use it to evaluate which candidate can fulfill that better.

Administer a “Test”

Have both candidates checked all the boxes? Tests and experimental projects can be a great way to decide between candidates if all the other factors have been considered. Depending on what the job is, there are different ways to administer a test or project for the candidates.

Assign a task that relates to the job, and give the candidates a deadline. This is real-work experience and will allow them to perform as if they were hired. For employers, this serves as a way to see whose work matches up with their resume, and which candidate can fulfill the company’s needs.

Things to Avoid

There are lots of ways to evaluate candidates when it seems there is more than one perfect fit. However, there are also a lot of things to steer clear of when evaluating candidates that could lead employers to make the wrong choice.

For starters, avoid judging personality too heavily. Depending on the interview format (in-person, video call, or audio), candidates’ personalities can be hard to judge in just a few meetings. On top of that, everyone you interview is going to be somewhat nervous, and some people handle nerves better than others.

For these reasons, personality as a selection criterion can be misleading and usually isn’t the best factor on which to base your final hiring decisions.

Additionally, if you’re attempting to fill the shoes of a high-performing employee or someone who’s been on the team for years, don’t be set on finding a candidate who’s just like them. Not only is this impossible, but it closes the door to new opportunities that may be beneficial to the company. Think about what you need in the future, and ask yourself what each candidate can do to make a difference.

No matter what decision is made, utilizing these tips and criteria for narrowing down candidates will ensure you end up with a fantastic new hire. And remember, “break the tie, but not the bond”. That candidate you let go of may be of great use in the future, don’t burn any bridges.