Is Indecision Ruining Your Recruitment Efforts?

blog May 19, 2021

“I can’t make a decision because you have presented 2 great candidates – if we hired one of them we’d always wonder whether the other would have been better....”


This was the exact words that came out of the employers’ mouth after we had carefully and meticulously conducted a thorough and rigorous recruitment campaign for them, providing a strong shortlist. So strong in fact that they simply couldn’t (and didn’t) make the final decision. Whilst the team rightly pointed out that we had done such a stellar job we made it difficult for the employer to choose, I found the situation fascinating.


How does it sound to you? Ludicrous? Funny? Typical?


At first I assumed that really they just didn’t want to hire anyone, that it was a total waste of time and resources because they clearly had no intention of hiring – I mean surely one candidate stands ahead of the other for their needs?


But as I reflected on this, I wondered how many other small businesses are letting indecision ruin their recruitment success. Have you missed out on great candidates because you couldn’t decide what you were looking for or which applicant was the best fit for the team?


I am sure we all at some point in running a business have been crippled by indecision, for fear of failure, reluctance to face the unknown or purely because we were too busy to make that decision a priority.


This indecision can hit us at various stages in the journey of a recruitment project. Deciding who to interview, what questions to ask, what assessments to use and of course ultimately who to hire. These are just some of the trip up points where we can find ourselves paralysed by indecision.


And given that we know that a poor recruit costs your business time, money and energy, it’s totally understandable that getting it right requires attention, thought, and the right decisions being made – so putting energy and ultimately pressure on getting it right makes sense.


But what if we are crippled by indecision? What are the risks of that? Well there are several. We risk losing the best applicants – because in a fast moving marketplace they will find and accept other work while we are still deciding. We risk applicants having a poor impression of our business because of our indecisiveness, who wants to work for an indecisive leader? There are also risks associated with your existing team, with them being frustrated with you resulting in lost productivity, a decline in engagement and motivation as well as the measurable impact on business performance.


So, next time you’re feeling stuck in making a decision, here are my top tips for avoiding and overcoming indecision to make sure you maximise your chances of success when recruiting for staff:


  • Know what you are looking for. It may sound basic but without a crystal-clear picture in your mind of what this individual needs to be able to do in their role, and what experience and skills they need to possess in order for this to happen – how will you ever decide who is right for your role?
  • Prioritise your essential and desirable criteria, so if there are several candidates who are all at the same level, you will be able to ‘rank’ their suitability in terms of their ability to meet your criteria;
  • Make notes after each interview, whilst the applicant, their answers and your gut feel about their ability to fit into your team are fresh in your mind. It might be simplest to give them an overall score out of 10 for several key criteria, so that when you are comparing several applicants it becomes clear who the leaders were;
  • Get a buddy – or ditch a buddy – if you don’t have anyone helping with the recruitment process, get a buddy to bounce ideas off and act as a sounding board. This might be someone from the organisation or someone from outside, as long as they understand your needs and the organisation as a whole. Conversely if you have someone ‘helping’ you but all they are doing is confusing you and muddying the waters when it comes to your decision making, ditch them and find someone who might be better able to help rather than hinder;
  • Don’t over analyse, approach the recruitment with clarity, purpose and a defined goal. This way you will be able to focus on what’s important and forget about the rest.


If you are clear on what your looking for at the outset, focused in your campaign about the essential priorities and follow a consistent and systemised approach, there will emerge a clear leader.


If you really are splitting hairs between the top applicants, always go with the one whose values are most closely aligned and who is a better cultural fit overall. That will undoubtedly give them the winning edge when it comes to being a great workplace addition.



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