Talent Acquisition

Top Tips For Shortlisting Candidates

Shortlisting candidates is potentially the most important part of the recruitment process. With the majority of roles often having tens or even hundreds of applicants, ensuring that you’re selecting the most relevant candidates to go through to the next stage of the process is crucial to recruitment success.  

Robert Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment said:

“Shortlisting candidates effectively is the first step to finding a new employee who can drive your business forward. Using a logical and structured shortlisting process is crucial to success, or you could end up missing out on the talent hidden within the pile of applications.”

But so many businesses look at CVs and they make decisions based on a spelling mistake, the format of it, the picture of the person on the CV, or other kinds of gut feels. I’ve even known candidates being rejected because they don’t support the right football team. How to do it effectively is as follows.

Quite often, you will get a massive response of applicants to your roles and shortlisting is a really fundamental integral part of getting the recruitment process right.

Many companies, when shortlisting, really don’t go about it in the right way. They kind of go on the gut feel of that CV rather than having a structured, logical approach to shortlisting.

Start with your person specification

Before you start the shortlisting process, it’s important to define what your ideal candidate looks like. Ask yourself the qualifications and experience which will be needed to succeed in the position and the skills they’ll need to possess to hit the ground running. It can be useful to compare your person specification against a current top-performer if you have an employee in a parallel role.

Mark-up your person specification with M-E-P

When you write your person spec, make a list of all of the skills, qualities, and attributes you’re looking for your target candidate to have. Now mark them M for mandatory, E for Essential, and P preferred the icing on the cake, the nice to have. Score all of the attributes accordingly.

Now, is the mandatory minimum requirement to be chosen for or selected for an interview. is Essential, they will need to demonstrate at the interview to secure the role. And the Ps are the Preferred, the nice to haves.

So when we’re going through the person’s spec, mark them all out ME, or P. And when we’re shortlisting, go through the logical process of matching– does the CV have the Ms? If they do, bring them in for that first interview.

Conduct your shortlist in stages

The quickest way to shortlist is to do it in stages. The first stage should be to run through all the CVs and simply exclude those who don’t meet the mandatory requirements you’ve defined earlier in the process. This should quickly make a long list of applications much more manageable. In stage 2 you should go through the remaining CVs, assigning the candidates scores against each item in your list of essential criteria, recording the scores on a spreadsheet or database.  This will give you an easy way to rank candidates and give you a top ten shortlist to work with.

Use more than ‘Gut Feel’

Sticking to a structured and logical M-E-P system should help you shortlist candidates without superficial bias like judging a candidate from the design of their CV or what they’ve labeled under their interests and hobbies. If they have all of the mandatory requirements for the role, use the interview stage to judge candidates properly – CVs will only tell you so much.

About the author: Rob Scott has specialized in technical sales recruitment, particularly engineering and electronics sales recruitment, and has over 12-year operational and commercial management experience.  During his corporate life, Rob won the coveted best-performing manager award 2004 for profitability (out of 315 group managers) and won numerous other group Awards for both achievements and excellence.  Since setting up Aaron Wallis Rob has steered the company to enjoy double-digit growth year-on-year through turbulent economic times by maintaining clients and making a difference.

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