How to Shortlist the Best Candidates

Shortlist Candidates With This Guide

Are you narrowing down your candidate shortlist to the right people?

Hiring the right candidate for a job can be a daunting task, especially when faced with a pool of qualified applicants. To streamline this process, many companies use a specific shortlisting procedure.

In this article, we will delve into what candidate shortlists look like, the process involved, and how to ensure your shortlist has the best possible candidates.

How to Shortlist Candidates?

Shortlisting candidates is a critical step in the hiring process, designed to identify the most qualified individuals from a pool of applicants. The primary goal is to select candidates who not only meet the job requirements but also align with the company’s values and culture. Shortlisting ensures that hiring managers can efficiently move forward with the interview process, focusing their efforts only on the top contenders.

Key Objectives of Shortlisting:

Agree on Desired Criteria: Establish clear and objective criteria that candidates must meet to be short-listed. Common criteria include education, experience, skills, knowledge, and personality traits.

Discard Unfit Applications: Eliminate applications that do not align with the established criteria. This step helps streamline the selection process by removing candidates who do not meet the minimum qualifications.

Identify Qualified Candidates: Create a list of candidates who not only meet the criteria but also appear well-suited for the role. These candidates will be invited for interviews.

Prepare Interview Questions: Develop a set of interview questions based on the criteria and job requirements to evaluate short-listed candidates thoroughly.

Determine Additional Information Needs: Decide whether you need to request additional information from candidates before or after the interview process. This information can include references, portfolio samples, or assessment tests.

How to Create a Candidate Shortlist

1. Determine the Shortlist Criteria

Assemble a team of professionals responsible for hiring decisions. Discuss and define the qualifications and qualities required for the role objectively.

Reduce the shortlist to 5 or 6 candidates who possess the required skills and qualifications and align with your organisation’s culture. Consider factors such as must-have skills, motivation, cultural fit, and alignment with internal stakeholders’ opinions.

2. Create a Scorecard

Develop a scorecard to objectively compare candidates. Include criteria and assign scores (e.g. on a scale of 1 to 5) to each criterion.

Consider printing scorecards for each candidate or managing them digitally for convenience. Consider aptitude tests to gain insights into a candidate’s suitability for the role.

Use these tests to identify candidates who may interview well but lack the necessary job-related skills.

3. Establish the Length of Your List

Decide the length of your candidate shortlist. Of course, this number will change based on the number of applications you received, the seniority of the role, and a host of other factors. The important thing is to limit your shortlist to candidates you are genuinely considering hiring, despite how simple that sounds.

Ideally, you should aim for four or five high-calibre candidates. You can also consider the number of open positions and interview success rates to determine the appropriate number of candidates to shortlist.

4. Use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software

In the initial phase of sifting through a mountain of resumes, ATS software can help. It scans and parses resumes, swiftly identifying applicants who meet the basic job requirements. By automating this initial filtering, it saves you valuable time and effort, leaving your team to focus on evaluating the most promising candidates.

ATS software will also maintain an organised repository of applicant data. This enables you to quickly revisit potential candidates for future roles or as your organisation’s needs evolve. 

5. Consider Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In today’s tech-driven world, AI plays a transformative role in the shortlisting of candidates, offering significant advantages over traditional methods. AI excels in accuracy, rapidly processing extensive data to pinpoint candidates with standout qualifications while minimising the margin of human error.

Its efficiency and impartiality are also key benefits, allowing you to swiftly compile a list of eligible candidates based on preset metrics.

AI is particularly beneficial in high-volume hiring situations, where the sheer number of applicants can be overwhelming. Leveraging AI in your shortlisting process saves time and opens the door to identifying the most qualified candidates with ease. 

Efficiently managing the short-listing process offers several benefits:

Manages the Application Pool: Short-listing makes a high volume of applications more manageable, particularly when aided by AI software.

Sets Clear Expectations: Collaboration during short-listing helps define desired credentials, assisting in hiring and performance evaluations for existing employees.

Identifies Company Progress: The process reveals how well your company aligns with its hiring goals and can lead to necessary improvements in recruitment strategies.

Acts Efficiently: Short-listing introduces order into the hiring process, reducing delays and improving efficiency, especially when using ATS and AI tools.

Final Thoughts

Shortlisting candidates is the vital bridge between a pool of applicants and the final interview stage, making the hiring process more efficient and effective. This article has delved into its significance, objectives, and structured process, including creating scorecards, determining the shortlist’s length, and the benefits of AI in modern hiring.

Mastering the art of shortlisting offers substantial benefits such as managing the application pool, setting clear expectations, identifying progress towards hiring goals, and streamlining the process. By embracing these principles, organisations can discover the best talent while ensuring a fair and efficient recruitment process, ultimately fostering growth and success.

TalentVine's Recruiter of the Month September 2023 - Sarah Conlon from TalentWebTalentVine's Recruiter of the Month October 2023 - Ceilia Novacevski from MS&Co
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