Back to Basics: Tips to Shortlist the Best Candidates

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Have you ever been two minutes into an hour long interview and known right away that the candidate shouldn’t have made it this far in the process?

Well if so, we want to ensure you make the most of your precious time and help you focus on some basic shortlisting processes.

So, how can you filter through the unsuitable candidates and get to the shortlist of the most suitable talent as fast as possible?

Here are some steps you can take to improve your shortlisting process:

Focus on Competencies and Cultural Fit

Goal: Reduce the shortlist to three or four candidates. They should be the ones you genuinely think can do the job and would best fit with your organisation’s team and culture.

You should ask yourself these questions to decide whether to include them or not in the shortlist:

  • Do they have the “must-have” skills/qualifications/experience?
  • Do they seem motivated to join the company
  • Does the candidate seem a good fit with the company culture?
  • Are you in agreement with the other internal stakeholders?

Red Flags or Deal Breakers

We all know that interviews can be stressful and it is ok to give a candidate the benefit of the doubt if they mispronounce a word or look a little nervous as some people just don’t interview well. This being said, there are other actions and behaviour that can be a sign of unprofessionalism on their part. Some of these could be:

  • Arriving late to the interview
  • Dressing casual or being poorly presented
  • No evidence they have researched the organisation
  • Not being truthful about their experience or qualifications

If this happens, they should be excluded from the shortlist as these are early warning signs that will often come back to bite you with their future work performance.

Making a Subjective Assessment

The candidates that communicate well, maintained eye contact and display  interest in the interviewers will often be seen as having a great cultural fit. This can often be the case but remember to look at their answers, background and experience with an objective lens as interviewers will often feel more connected to candidates that are most similar to themselves.

Focus on what you know to be the predictors of future on-the-job performance and don’t deviate from that when you’re faced with candidates that make you feel you have that ‘special connection’.

Reference Checks

Checking references is always a good insurance policy against a bad hire and hearing what others have to say about their experience with a certain candidate can tell you much more than we can learn from a CV or an interview.

Call at least two of each candidate’s referees as soon as possible after the interviews are completed. It’s best to do this as a one to one conversation over the phone rather than an email or a written reference. And also bear in mind that candidates are most likely to provide a reference check that they know are more likely to provide positive feedback so there is no harm in asking for a reference from a particular role they had in the past as their response might answer some questions for you.

Keeping the Candidates Updated

Once you have your candidates shortlist, let them know they’ve been shortlisted to move forwards in the same way that you let unsuitable candidate’s know they haven’t made it through. Don’t risk having your top candidates disheartened because they didn’t hear from you.

Keep them updated on the progress if their application by whatever channel is better for the both of you (Email, SMS, calls).

These steps should help you evaluate the candidates you’ve interviewed fairly and objectively, speed up the hiring process and give you confidence for when the time comes to offering the position to the right person.

This content was originally created here.

Ben Sunderland