When It’s Down to You and Another Candidate

by Brian Skory

I hate buying a new car. As if driving to multiple dealerships and test-driving a dozen or more vehicles isn't bad enough, I then ultimately have to agonize over choosing between my top two or three picks. Not a lot of fun for an over-analyzer like myself. Yet it seems that so much of life comes down to this process of choosing between two or three top picks—which movie to go to, which outfit to purchase, which vacation destination to go to.

It's no different in the world of technical recruiting. Rarely does one of our clients interview just one candidate and make a decision to hire him or her. More often than not, they have whittled down a list of potential candidates and are making their choice between the top two or three. I don't typically venture a guess as to which candidate will be chosen because once it gets down to those two or three they are generally all pretty good. But where I would consider putting money down on a particular candidate is when one of those finalists comes out of their onsite interview and calls me with genuine excitement about the role and the people they would be working with. It seems that more often than not when an interviewee reports back that "this would be my dream job," or "they seem like exactly the kind of people I want to work with" or "this is the perfect work culture for me," they almost always seem to be the one to get the offer. I can't help but wonder if some small part of that is because their enthusiasm was clearly picked up on by the hiring manager. Think about it—if you narrowed down your interview pool to three good candidates, all of them with similar skills, education, and experience, wouldn't you be attracted to the candidate most attracted to you, your role, and your company? As the saying goes, we tend to like people who like us. Additionally, hiring managers don't just want good technical fits, they want people who are going to stick around for a while, and people who are genuinely excited about their jobs are generally the ones who end up staying.

Now, I'm not saying to fake, or even exaggerate, your enthusiasm in an interview. What I am suggesting is that if you genuinely are excited about the opportunity, now is not the time to put on your poker face. If you are feeling excited about a role, a company, or a development team, make sure that your interviewers know it. It may make the difference between your getting the role over the other candidate.

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