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Tips on Shortlisting the Best Candidates

    • Help & Advice
Tips on Shortlisting the Best Candidates
James Whiting, The 12th of July, 2013

Get the Best Candidates

It is imperative that the “right” candidate be chosen for a vacancy.  Neither recruiters nor companies can afford to make an error in judgement regarding a potential employee.  In the current job market, recruiters are often overwhelmed by the number of applications received, per position advertised.  Consequently, they need to use consistent selection criteria when shortlisting for interviews.  Outcomes worth striving for include lower staff turnover, increased productivity and fewer labour disputes, and these can be achieved by hiring correctly.  Gone are the days of relying on “gut feel”.  A more calculated approach to shortlisting is needed.

Formulate a job description

Shortlisting Tips | Jobsgopublic

It helps to begin with a good idea of the qualities and characteristics that you require of a candidate.  In order to do this, you need to take a step back and assess the role objectively.  A comprehensive job description needs to be formulated to which all stakeholders (HR, Managers, co-workers and even internal customers) have contributed.  Once this has been accomplished, a recruiter will be be able to list essential criteria along with non essential criteria.

Essential versus non essential criteria

More often than not, essential characteristics include educational qualifications and work experience.  Certain personal attributes may also form part of the list of essential requirements.  Once the list of essentials is complete, you may compile a list of non essential criteria.  Although it is easy to do, you need to guard against confusing the two.  The last thing a recruiter wants is to exclude a brilliant candidate due to the inflexibility of his essential criteria list.  Conversely, a recruiter needs to be able to eliminate unsuitable candidates as quickly as possible.  A rule of thumb would imply that the list of “nice to have’s” be twice as long as the list of essential characteristics.

Selecting your “long list”

Make a Shortlist | Jobsgopublic

Once the closing date for applications is reached, and once you have a good idea of the number of applicants you wish to interview, reject any definite “no’s” immediately.  Base these rejections firmly on the list of essential criteria.  You will be able to sift through the remaining applicants by making use of a scoring matrix, and hopefully select no more than ten for the first round of interviews.  Should the pool of applicants still be too large, you may further sort according to the list of non essentials.

Group interviews are a good idea for first round interviews as they tend to speed up the process somewhat. Different stakeholders bring different styles of interviewing to the table, and will be able to assess different fields of expertise. Try to look for personal attributes that are not evident from a CV (i.e. personality fit).  Now would be the time to introduce any testing that one deems necessary to fulfil the position.

Selecting your shortlist

You should now be able to compile a shortlist of about four to five candidates who not only have the required education, skills and experience necessary, but also the correct temperament and “fit” for the organisation.  These shortlisted candidates may now be interviewed on a one-on-one basis.  Appointments are then usually made subject to references and a probationary period.

Job Shortlisting | Jobsgopublic