A Recruiter’s Guide to Shortlisting Candidates in 2019

In a perfect world, we would evaluate each and every candidate that put in an application and ensure their resume was viewed by the hiring manager and given an in-person interview. The reality is that recruiters are crunched for time to fill positions as it is and trying to interview each and every applicant would result in the role never getting filled (as well as a very tired recruiting team). That’s why shortlisting is such an effective strategy for recruiters and ensures they’re able to efficiently move their candidates through the hiring process.

What is shortlisting?

What is shortlisting

In the world of recruiting, shortlisting is defined as the process of finding the best possible candidate from your pool of applicants for an open position and advancing them to the next stage of the interview which is typically an in-person meeting. While it seems straightforward, it’s not. In fact, many leaders in hiring say that shortlisting candidates is the most difficult part of their job.

While many recruiters may come across issues in an effort to shortlist candidates, it doesn’t have to be a lost cause. There are many ways around it as long as you’re willing to work them out with your team and develop a plan of action. Here are some of the most effective.

Figure out what is most important

Figure out what is most important

First things first, you need to figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for. No matter how good the candidate may be, it means nothing if you aren’t able to realize how talented they are in the first place. To make it easy on yourself, pick the most important qualities you’re looking for in your perfect candidate. This means picking the most important qualities in regards to their professional experience as well as cultural fit.

Once you have that list, pick the five most important from each category and look for them as you scour through resumes and cover letters. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and will be able to build your list of shortlisted candidates much faster. Just make sure not to develop tunnel vision and completely disregard the other qualities you’re looking for.

Keep an eye out for red flags

Along with their most important qualities, you should also be very aware of what you aren’t looking for. This means job hoppers as well as candidates with inconsistencies in their resumes. While there can be a good reason for an employee moving around from company to company, it may not be the perfect fit if you’re looking for something long term.

Other resume red flags include:

  • Lots of grammatical mistakes
  • No steady progression from position to position/ moving backward in titles
  • Inconsistent employment history
  • Failure to follow directions stated in the application
  • Being too overqualified/underqualified

How many candidates will you have time to interview

How many candidates will you have time to interview

What you also need to consider is how much time you have available to interview your shortlisted candidates. If time isn’t an issue then feel free to make your list as large as you’d like it to be. But if you’re in a situation where you have to fill as fast as you can, then be mindful of how many candidates you’ll be able to progress to the next stage and adjust accordingly.

Use video interviews

One way to make up for your lack of time is by using video interviewing software to speed things up and interview more candidates than you previously thought you had time for. It works like this, you record your portion of the video interview which includes the questions you want to ask along with any important information regarding the company you’d like to share. This information includes work perks, health insurance information, vacation time, etc.

Next, you send the interviews to candidates for them to complete at their convenience. This way, the candidate can feel more relaxed since they’re in a space they’re comfortable in and will be able to speak of their abilities and past experiences more accurately. Also, you get a first-hand account of how they communicate without having to meet with them in person. With the time saved, you’ll be able to interview more candidates in a much smaller time frame.

Include a short assignment to accompany their application

Include a short assignment to accompany their application

One way to really have the best candidates shine is by having them complete a short assignment with their application. This can be anything from a quick word problem to a math equation. When you have your applicants complete an assignment, you know the ones that actually took the time to do it are committed and driven to prove their worth for the role. You also know not to consider applicants that don’t complete the assignment because they’ve displayed they’re not able to follow directions.

Last thoughts

You can’t spend all your time evaluating each and every candidate that comes through the pipeline, you’ll get stuck and will never get your roles filled. By correctly employing shortlisting tactics, you’ll be saving time as well as ensuring the best candidate makes it through to the next round.

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