When you’re looking at hiring someone new, the last thing you want to do is accidentally leave someone amazing out of your shortlist. Shortlisting candidates is a much harder task than it seems, as many hiring managers can attest. Keep reading to find out how to nail your shortlisting process the first time round!
What Is Shortlisting?
52% of hiring managers say that shortlisting candidates is the hardest part of their job. So, what why is that?
It may be helpful to start by defining what shortlisting is, as there are a few different definitions. The one we’re going to go with for the purposes of this article is the process of getting your candidates down to just those you are interested in interviewing.
Others define shortlisting as creating a list of candidates who meet the criteria you laid out in the job description. However, this can be far too many people to interview, so you may need more methods to cut down on the number of people on that shortlist. It all depends on how many applicants meet your essential criteria!
Why Create A Shortlist of Candidates?
When you first close a job listing, you may feel overwhelmed at the number of candidates who applied. Having more applicants is a great thing, but it’s a time-consuming process to read all of those CVs and cover letters. And it would take far too long to interview them all, which is exactly why you need a shortlist to make your recruitment process easier.
Shortlisting candidates gives you a chance to screen candidates and eliminate those who don’t meet your criteria. You wouldn’t hire them anyway as they don’t meet the requirements for the role, so it’s an easy decision to say no to them.
How to Shortlist Candidates
Below are some methods commonly used to create a shortlist of candidates during the hiring process. You can use all or just some of these until you get to the interview process section of hiring. They are generally done in the order written below because the criteria get more and more strict with each stage of the recruitment process.
This stage is the easiest one, and at the end of it, you should have a long list of qualified applicants. Simply go back and review the essential criteria mentioned in the job description. Any applications which don’t meet these criteria can be eliminated from the process. This is why it’s critical to be specific when you’re writing the job description. The essential criteria must be as objective as possible.
Essential criteria may include:
- Specific education level
- A relevant degree
- Years of experience in a similar role
- Particular skills or abilities (such as analytical skills for a data analyst)
- Experience in a relevant field (for example, if your company is in the science industry)
- Competencies (such as attention to detail or time management)
- Personality traits (such as organised and helpful)
You should be able to find the relevant information in their cover letters or CVs. If you can’t, they haven’t completed a thorough application that matches the job description and they likely aren’t your ideal candidates anyway.
If the shortlist is still pretty lengthy after this round of eliminations, only proceed with those candidates who also meet your preferred criteria. These should also come from the job description and are a list of criteria that are not required for the role but are preferred. Generally, it is a longer list of skills, ability, and experience.
Take note of any red flags that you get from applications. For example, if an application for an administrative position contains many typos, then their attention to detail is not on par with the other applicants. Or if you are hiring a writer and their CV is not grammatically correct, this is also a huge red flag. Another example is if the person has not referred to any of the criteria or anything specific about your company in the cover letter. As long as it’s relevant to the position, you can definitely screen based on these types of red flags.
The next stage, once you’ve shortened your list considerably, is to do phone interviews. Just call each candidate to ask them a few basic questions to try to determine whether they are a good fit for the role. By chatting to them, you may also gain an understanding of the cultural fit and whether they would work well in your team. You could do a video interview at this stage instead, but that tends to last longer and be more formal, taking up more of your time.
If you still have too many applicants, psychometric tests can be a great way to differentiate between those you have left. A psychometric test is a test given to a candidate which will score them on their skills and abilities. A psychometric test for a position must test the candidate on skills relevant to that role. This way, you can get an objective score for each candidate on how capable they are of performing the skills needed for the job.
Here are some skills that psychometric tests can test candidates on:
- critical thinking
- verbal reasoning
- situational judgement
- personality styles
- numerical reasoning
- and much more!
Psychometric testing is the key to making your screening decisions easier. When you have this factual data in front of you, you can just choose the candidates who scored the highest to invite to face to face interviews. If you want to interview only 4 people, for example, then choose those with the 4 highest scores. You already know that they have the skills to do the job, so then you can interview more based on cultural fit and team dynamics.
If you’re currently struggling to make a shortlist, use some of the techniques described above. This will surely make your decision on who to interview much simpler. Find the best candidate for the position you have available by following this guide.