How to Shortlist Candidates for an Interview

Shortlisting candidates is the process of identifying who best meets the requirements of the applicant pool and moving them forward to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Corporates companies operating with large resources may have to shortlist more candidates because they can afford to spend more time interviewing people in person.

To be shortlisted for an interview means that you have successfully completed the initial procedure for an interview and you are selected for the interview to share your knowledge, skills, and qualifications with the employer.

Why Should You Shortlist Candidates?

Shortlisting Candidates improves the candidate experience, cuts down the time to hire, and leads to the best possible candidate for the job.

Candidate shortlisting helps when filtering candidates from the applicant pool, by choosing them according to the desired criteria, which align with the objectives of the organisation.

Things to Consider While Shortlisting

The things to consider while shortlisting is:

  1. Do they have the must-have skills, qualifications, and experiences?
  2. Do they seem motivated to join the company?
  3. Is the candidate a good fit for the company culture?
  4. Do the skillsets of the candidate match the company’s requirements?
  5. Do they have the right personality to continuously grow and improve in the organisation?

How Does Shortlisting Work?

When the organisation is preparing to hire people to fill positions, the first thing they typically do is write a job description. The job description contains a detailed list of the job’s primary duties, skills, and required qualifications. It also mentions the character traits or soft skills a successful candidate needs to thrive.

The hiring manager can also provide the details of academic training, certifications, and the amount of experience that is required for the role.

Once the organisation has a detailed list of the job descriptions they create a job posting. Interested candidates apply for these positions through job sites. As the organisation receives these applications, they review and compare them to their list of requirements and qualifications.

The hiring manager rates each application and adds the candidate to the name of the shortlist for those matching the skills that align with the organisation objectives, which they want to achieve. The applicant names on the shortlist are the candidates who meet the requirement of the job description of the organisation.

How to Build a Strategy for Shortlisting Candidates

shortlist candidates


1. Determine Your Criteria

The purpose of deciding established criteria is to support a structured decision-making process and ensure that decisions are made and alternatives are selected to support the desired outcomes and actions.

Before posting the job list and description, you need to identify the must-haves and the minimum qualifications, skill sets, and what qualifications would they want to see from the applicants. The companies have to fix their desired criteria to ensure good quality candidates are hired.

2. Decide on the Candidate Count

The shortlist for an interview usually includes 10 to 20 candidates, but this can vary depending on the type of position you are hiring for. You need to determine how many candidates you’re going forward with.

Deciding on how many people to shortlist helps to understand the recruitment process from the wide range of applicants coming from diverse backgrounds. Companies with more resources may have much larger shortlists because they can afford to spend more time interviewing people in person.

3. Review the Applications

The key to processing applications and screening resumes is planning. Before you receive your first application you should have a plan in place to evaluate. Application review is the process conducted by the management of the organisation.

Start reviewing the application received and select the candidates who meet the desired criteria in the company. The desired criteria can be different from one industry to another and the company can have its own desired criteria according to its needs. 

4. Eliminate Candidates

Eliminating candidates is done to remove candidates who do not meet the requirements specified or according to the company’s procedure and the purpose is to recruit the candidate who the meets organisation’s needs.

If the candidate does not have other minimum criteria, it is time to cut down time in the hiring process. You should not waste your time with applicants who do not meet your needs. Elimination is based on company policies and procedures which defer to every company.  

5. Screen Candidates

Candidate screening is the process of reviewing the resumes, profiles, or people for a job.

Phone screenings are common during the initial stages of the hiring process. Initial phone calls are efficient for some, you can also screen candidates with video interviews. Screening candidates methods include,

  • Skills Testing
  • Video Interview
  • Resume Screening
  • Cover Letters
  • Applicant Tracking Systems
  • Reference Checking
  • Online Research
  • Phone Interviews

6. Assessments

Assessments are to evaluate the applicants based on the criteria mentioned in the job description. This shows whether the skills of the candidate match the organisation goals.

Assessments are generally grade-based that include,

  • Exams
  • Portfolios
  • Final Projects
  • Standardized Tests

7. Interview

A structured interview conversation with the shortlisted candidates to learn more about their personality, skills, experience, and qualifications. It also helps when analysing the person’s analytical ability and way of expressing their ideas to the manager. The types of interviews are,

  • Phone Call
  • Panel Interview
  • The Competency Test
  • The Virtual Assessment Centre

8. Rate Shortlisted Candidates

Good recruiters will determine the candidate if their abilities to meet the client’s needs by leveraging all information available including resumes, references, social media, and technical behavioral interviews.

The shortlisted candidates can be rated based on their performance from the assessment and interviews in order to understand their potential for hiring them. These scores help when comparing one shortlisted candidate with another.

9. Release Results

The organisation has to communicate results to the candidates, whether they are selected or not. The result is the final situation at the end of a series of procedures which is structured according to the company.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the purpose of shortlisting candidates?

The purpose of shortlisting candidates is to find the most suitable candidate by cutting down the time to hire, and eliminating some applicant pools based on criteria.

2. How do you effectively shortlist candidates?

The steps to effectively shortlist candidates are determining the criteria, deciding on the maximum shortlisting numbers, reviewing the applications, eliminating some candidates, providing assessments, calling candidates for interviews, giving ratings to the shortlisted candidates, and releasing results.

3. What is the difference between screening and shortlisting?

Shortlisting occurs after candidate sourcing and before the interview process. Screening and shortlisting usually happen simultaneously. As resumes get screened, the best candidates are shortlisted and moved to the next stage.

4. What does being shortlisted mean to a candidate?

Being shortlisted does not mean you got the job. Instead, being shortlisted means you have made it through the initial stages and the company is interested in speaking to you further about your skills, expertise, and character.

Closing Thoughts

Shortlisting candidates is the process of identifying candidates from the applicant pool, which helps in cut down time during recruiting. First, determine the criteria, decide on shortlisting a number of candidates, review the applications received, eliminate candidates based on criteria, screen candidates, conduct assessments and interviews, rate the shortlisted candidates and finally release the results for the employees, whether they are selected for the further process or not. 



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