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How do you know when you’ve met the one? – Article by Amanda Underhill

How do you know when you’ve met the one? And when you do, should you leave them waiting?

In recruitment as in life, to me it seems quite simple, you just know. I’m not saying you don’t have to kiss a few frogs first but …

How many candidates do you need to see before you make your decision? 1, 2 6, and if you’re not sure should you keep looking?

During the recruitment process I would always suggest clients have a comparison, and for the majority of generalist roles this is possible, seeing 5 plus well matched candidates to make a choice from should always be possible, unless it is a very specific role requiring specific sector experience in a remote location.

So with this choice, once you have gone through the interview process with a variety of people within the organisation involved why are some people just not sure?

The basics – Have you got a detailed job description and person specification, these are basics, but not all recruitment processes have them, how can you make an informed decision on a role without them? The level of detail can vary, but in my experience every client and every role always have minimum 3 key criteria, these need to be detailed, and measured against. When I receive a 3 page JD I always ask what the 3 key criteria are, the rest tends to be desirables rather than essentials.

The perfect candidate will either have the essentials, the desirables and the perfect personality match for the culture of the company or the essentials and the perfect personality match.

The mistake – Not being sure – this is being human, indecision occurs in every part of our life but in recruitment it can be very costly both monetary wise and reputationally.

My view is wherever possible you don’t keep people waiting, once you have gone through a thorough detailed recruitment process after the final stage it should be a YES or a NO, definitely not a ‘maybe’, let’s start again just in case. Starting again if it is a no is absolutely fine but starting again and keeping someone waiting really isn’t, especially if the recruitment process has more than 1 interview stage.

This is something I have experienced on occasion over my 20 + years in recruitment but recently it is happening more and more, it is key that a decision either way is made at the final stage.

When you offer to a candidate you need them to be 100% bought in to the role, the company and you, starting the employment with any negativity isn’t beneficial for anyone and can impact on their image of the company and their productivity.

My advice to ensure you are able to make a decision immediately after the final stage is:

  • Put a rigorous recruitment process in place, with more than one decision maker meeting the candidates
  • Have a thorough JD and Person Spec from the start of the process so the basics are ticked
  • Have more than 1 candidate in the process from the start
  • Address any concerns after the first interview stage via the Recruitment Team whether they may be internal of external consultants
  • Set realistic timescales for feedback at every stage, if there is a chance you need to see more candidates then by setting a later date for a decision the candidates already in the process won’t be aware

Trust your instinct, if you’ve done all of the above and you’re still not sure, they probably aren’t right.

If you are currently recruiting and would like support on managing the recruitment process I would be more than happy to discuss this with you, Ashley Kate HR can provide template JDs and person specs, recruitment timelines and general advice on every stage of the process.


Good luck, I hope you find your “prince’ / ‘princess’.


Head of Recruitment – South
Amanda is a proactive, results driven recruitment professional with 18 years’ experience in recruitment. I enjoy developing new areas & relish the challenge of filling those ‘hard to fill’ roles.


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