Digitech Insights. 3 May 2022

Guide to Shortlisting Candidates

In today’s buoyant market, a single vacancy can attract hundreds of applications which can be a challenge for recruiters when it comes to shortlisting candidates for interview. There is always the worry that the ideal candidate may get overlooked or that you may miss an essential requirement and shortlist the wrong ones.

To add further complexity to the problem, candidates want to know quickly if they have been successful to progress to the next stage. Taking too long to shortlist candidates and inform those who will progress to interview can make the hiring process longer and increases the risk of missing out on top talent.

The key to effective shortlisting is to know from the very start what your ideal candidate looks like. Creating a defined list of essential and desirable criteria to measure all applicants can significantly reduce the time it takes to shortlist.

For example, there may be set qualifications or skills that are essential for the role or it may be desirable that candidates have previous experience. Once you have your criteria in place there are a number of screening methods you can use to help you filter through candidates to create a shortlist. Including:

  • Application forms
  • CV screening
  • Pre-employment test platforms
  • Cover letters
  • Employee assessment tests
  • Pre-recorded video interviews

Factors to consider when shortlisting candidates

When it comes to creating your criteria, it's imperative that it is specific to the vacancy. As a rule of thumb the following are almost always included, but there may be others to consider for particular roles:

  • Education and qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Technical skills and knowledge
  • Competencies
  • Soft skills
  • Character traits

While geographic location used to also be a factor, the shift to remote working has made this less important, but may still need to be considered if the role is hybrid or office based.

Core principles of shortlisting candidates

There are some basic principles your shortlisting process must follow, for example it should not discriminate against anyone based on the characteristics detailed in the Equality Act 2010. For example, it cannot discriminate by age, gender or ethnicity.

You must also endeavour to remove any unconscious bias from the hiring and shortlisting process. By this we mean not letting your own views or opinions skew your choices. Finally, the shortlisting process should be fair and consistent. Every candidate should be measured against the same criteria.

Defining your shortlisting process

There are four key steps when it comes to defining and building your shortlisting process. Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail.

1. Build your shortlist criteria

Be clear on the criteria you will use to measure candidates. Break down the skills, qualification, experience and characteristics that are essential and those that are desirable. To help determine the criteria it is advisable to look at employees in similar roles to understand what their strengths are. 

2. Choose your screening methods

Will you go solely off of application forms and CVs, or will you use cognitive tests to assess problem solving skills and other soft skills. You may even want to consider asking applicants to send in a video introducing themselves to get an idea of who they are and how they present themselves.

3. Devise a scoring system

It is crucial that your scoring system is devised at the same time as your shortlisting criteria and adhered to throughout the shortlisting process. The essential elements of roles, such as qualifications are likely to be weighted higher than those that are desirable.

Assigning a score to each element of the criteria can help you determine which candidates are best suited and therefore shortlisted.

4. Be clear on the size of your shortlist

You can’t interview every candidate that applies for a role, so it is important you are clear on how many candidates you want to shortlist from the onset. Understanding your past application to interview and job ratio is a good place to start.

While this number can have a degree of flexibility it is important that you have an idea in your mind of how many candidates you want to progress to the next stage. For example, if you have 100 applicants you may want to shortlist to around 15-20.

Why choose Digitech?

At Digitech, our team of recruiters and strategists bring a breadth of knowledge and vast experience in the tech industry. From understanding market conditions to ensuring the tech recruitment journey is smooth, we can help you source the best tech talent and reduce your time to hire.

Whether you need a contingent resource to meet a peak in demand, are looking to hire for a permanent position or want to engage with contract workers, we can help you find candidates that have the right skill set and are a good fit for your business. Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and see how we can help.

Guide to Shortlisting Candidates