Step 5: Who do I take to the SHORTLIST?

By Tayo Leigh

 12 May 2015     Comments

Shortlisting candidates can be a daunting task, especially if you have been inundated with applications. It is a task that requires careful planning and a clear focus. It may be helpful to have more than one person compile the shortlist. Ask a colleague or trusted work acquaintance to assist you if possible. A second person can help you to avoid bias in selection and ensure that you remain fair and objective.

Decide how many candidates to interview

If your recruitment campaign has been successful, you may have a long list of applicants who broadly meet your criteria. Now the task is to whittle this list down to the number of candidates you want to interview. This number should be determined by the amount of time and resources you can afford to devote to this activity. For small businesses we suggest no more that 5 or 6 people is sufficient for a shortlist.

Decide on shortlisting criteria

Do not introduce new criteria at this stage. Refer closely to your person specification and assess which candidates most closely match the criteria. Some qualities may be better assessed at interview stage. For example, if presentation skills are an essential job criterion, then it makes better sense to assess this at the interview stage where you could ask candidates to prepare a short presentation.

You will need to rate candidates against how closely they match the essential and desirable criteria. In doing this, only give credit for demonstrable evidence of skills and experience. Understandably, candidates often boast and exaggerate their competence! If an assertion is not backed up with evidence, don’t give credit for it. Be careful to avoid bias particularly if assessing the application of a candidate who is known to you. Use the same selection criteria throughout the process so as not to prejudice the outcome.

Ensure that your rating method is consistent and strictly adhere to your scoring. Your shortlist should only include candidates who achieved the highest score.

Filter in Stages

Include those candidates that fully meet all the essential requirements for education, professional qualifications and experience. Ideally all candidates who meet the essential criteria should be interviewed. However, if this still leaves you with too many candidates, you will have to do a second stage filter. For the second stage, use the desirable but non-essential criteria to rank candidates.

Following these points should result in you having a shortlist that includes those candidates that most closely match your person specification. At the very least they will all meet the essential criteria and likely a number of the desirable criteria also. The next stage in the selection process will be to interview the shortlist. This will be covered in next step, so stay tuned!

If you haven't seen Step 4 before, read here for better understanding Step 4: How to interpret a CV


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