How to pick a winner – 6 tips to ensure you back the right candidate!

With the Spring Carnival upon us, and the “The Race That Stops a Nation” outcome this week we thought this would be a great opportunity to examine how ‘smart punters’ choose a winning horse and the similarities in choices made by good Hiring Managers during the recruitment process.

Here are our top 6 tips to ensure you are backing the right candidate through the recruitment process.

Tip 1: Consider their credentials

A great place to start in making your selection is by reading the horse’s Race Card. A typical Race Card lists information about the horse such as the name, weight, the rider and trainer, figures indicating their recent form, and the current odds. It is this information that allows the punter to consider if a horse might be worth examining further and potentially placing a bet on.

The majority of Hiring Managers will start with viewing a resume to gain a better understanding of the candidate’s background.  The resume can be just as informative as a Race Card by showing previous employment, longevity and career progression as well as training and education and skills and experience gained.  By starting with reviewing the candidates resume, it is useful to screen out unsuitable candidates and identify a list for further consideration.

Tip 2: Consider the team

Any horse can run fast in a circle but for that horse to be the fastest and reach its full potential it needs the right Trainer and Jockey to provide support, guidance, encouragement and direction. All three need to have a common goal, clear focus and be able to work together harmoniously to be successful.

To back the right candidate you need to consider what skills, knowledge, attributes, personal characteristics, and experience the candidate will need to fit into your organisations culture and grow your winning team.

Tip 3:  Gather as much information as you can

When it comes to picking a winning horse, there are many facets to consider.  Smart Punters gather as much information as they can and will consider all elements such as; form, odds, pedigree, past performance, the going, distance, the competition, weight, class, trainer, jockey, the environment, and the course, to name a few. They understand how all these elements work in tandem and which will increase their chances of predicting the success of a particular horse.

The same applies when choosing the right candidate for your open vacancy. The best Hiring Managers do not purely rely on a resume or how the candidate performed in interview, they use a variety of selection techniques such as assessment centres, presentations, scenarios, social media, reference checks and testing in order to make the most informed decision they possibly can.

 Tip 4: Let the odds be forever in your favour

Sorry we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a Hunger Games quote! The horse’s odds, set by the Bookmakers, are calculated based on a myriad of information and a horse with a higher chance of winning generally has lower odds, which means there is a lower risk for the punter.

The best Hiring Managers ensure the odds are in their favour by conducting thorough due diligence on the candidates they are considering. Past behaviour is the best prediction of future performance so taking the time to review all the information that has been gathered throughout the recruitment process will make certain of a candidate’s aptitude and suitability. This will in turn reduce the odds and lower the risk of a “bad hire”.

Tip 5: The Environment

Different horses perform better under different conditions so a smart punter will consider the environment on the day and assess the horse against these conditions, for example does the horse run better in the wet or dry?

Good Hiring Managers will take time in an interview to investigate the previous work environments a candidate has worked in and how well they performed in these conditions. By understanding what environment they work best in allows them to examine if their company’s environment and culture will align with the candidates motivation and level of comfort.

It is highly recommend to take the time to give the candidates you are interviewing a tour of your office, show them where they could be potentially working, and ask them if they have previously worked in similar environments. This will also assist the candidate to visualise working for your organisation.

Tip 6: Don’t rule out the wildcard!

With all the information in the world available to them the best punters will still never rule out the wild card, as sometimes the one you least expect to see win….does!

The best Hiring Manager will always consider the ‘dark horse’. This could be the applicant who comes from a different industry all together but still has transferable skills, or the more junior candidate that demonstrates all the personal traits of a leader. If a candidate is not an exact fit for the role, don’t rule them out straightaway, the saying goes you can train the skills but can’t train the personality so it is always worth taking the time to consider the potential wild cards in your recruitment process and how they could add value.


At the end of the day there is no exact science to picking a winning horse or selecting the right candidate for your role, and even the most experienced and informed punters and Hiring Managers can still get it wrong.  However, by ensuring that you do all within your power to gather as much information and statistical knowledge as you can you lower the risk and increase your chances of backing the winner.

To find out about our affordable, trusted and transparent recruitment solution and how we can help you increase your odds of picking a winning candidate, contact the team at Harrison McMillan today!

From all of us at Harrison McMillan we hope you enjoy this spring racing season and please gamble responsibly.