What is shortlisting?

As defined by the dictionary, shortlisting is the verb meaning to put someone or something on the short list. For hiring purposes, hiring managers use shortlisting to bring the field of applicants down to a manageable pool that can be vetted through the hiring process. This is normally done by comparing the candidate’s capabilities against a benchmark created for a position. This process can be as simple as a scorecard with 5 different essential criteria or as complex as each candidate having gone through a battery of assessments. It depends on the position, time-to-hire needs, quantity of hires for the position and many other factors as to what the best way to pursue shortlisting should be for your organization.

Now that you know what Shortlisting is, how do you do it effectively?

7 Steps to building a reliable shortlist for your open job positions:

1. Define what is required for success in the job.

If you don’t know what key skills, abilities, knowledge, or other characteristics are most important for the job the rest of your shortlisting activities will be relatively useless.  This required information starts with a good job analysis.  Once the key competencies are defined then the rest of the process will fall into place much easier than without a job analysis.

2. Build a solid job description.

As we like to say, garbage in means garbage out. If you haven’t painted a good picture for your applicants, chances are you will attract a lot of candidates that are unqualified and simply searching for anything they can find. Take your time and create a job description that best fits the responsibilities and requirements of the job.

3. Define your most important criteria for the open position.

This is essentially your scorecard for the applicants. It includes items such as education, work experience, specific skills, etc.  Obviously, there will be more required for the position but you can’t spend too much time during the hiring phase gathering all possible information. Therefore, you need to prioritize what information is most important combined with what is easy to gather.

4. Quantify your data gathering and build a scoring system to measure each candidate.

Now that you have your criteria, it is time to quantify the data and weight the specific criteria against the importance in the job itself. For instance, college graduate might be a criterion, but it might have less weight than someone who knows a specific coding language or database. Decide what is critical in the role and develop a matrix that works for that position.

5. Make sure your system is practical.

This is when you check your assessments and scoring system against what the reality is. Have you developed a scoring system and process so complex that it is going to take far too long to run each candidate through it? If so, it won’t work. Check the system against items such as volume of candidates, how long it will take to determine scores and anything else that could interfere with it working for your specific needs.

6. Train the hiring managers.

Be sure to take the time to implement the system that will lead to consistent usage among the hiring managers. Training is critical to any process change, especially in hiring. Don’t rush this step, be methodical and do it right so that you end up with 100% buy-in.

7. Measure the success of you process in an ongoing way.

What gets measured gets paid attention to.  If you measure the success of your process in an ongoing manner you can continue to make changes and make it better.  Let the “system” learn based on data you receive on all candidates.  Which candidates are accepting offers, which ones are working out on the job, etc.  Relate that information back to the process and make appropriate changes.

What are the benefits of shortlisting?

The top 3 benefits of shortlisting job applicants:

1. Efficiency

By developing a shortlist of candidates, you can focus your energy more singularly on the candidates that have the best potential fit for the role you are filling. This saves time as well as money, making you much more efficient.

2. Better hit rates in hiring top performers

The simple fact that you have better identified the qualifications necessary for the position and created a smaller candidate pool to interview will lead to better hires. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and it won’t completely prevent a bad hire but it definitely does increase the likelihood of better hires more often than not.

3. Process driven hiring

Shortlisting creates a process for how you hire. This process, when implemented correctly, will lead to a stable system by which anyone in the organization can follow when they are tasked with hiring. Just like any other system, shortlisting creates terrific process driven side benefits such as less “gut” hiring and a more unbiased approach to hiring.

What is the best way to shortlist applicants?

Before answering that question, let’s look at the pre-requisites you need to have answered before prescribing what we would call the BEST tool for shortlisting.

1. It depends on the position and the volume of candidates.

Are you looking to hire 10 people for an open position or 100 people? Is the position entry level or is it for an executive? How many applicants would you normally look at for any given position? All of these questions should be considered before looking into the best method for shortlisting.

2. It needs to be a process that works for your organization.

You could have the best shortlisting methodology picked out with the best potential results, but if it is not a fit with your organization and hiring managers won’t use it, it just turns into a waste of time and money. Hiring managers must lead the charge when it comes to implementing a solution that will help them go through this process more efficiently. Buy-in is crucial!

3. It needs to lead to better hires and ultimately a better marriage between employee and employer.

The end result is what it is all about. You must pick a methodology that will lead to better hires. If you are successful at this, you should find productivity company-wide increase as well as lower turn-over and expenses related to onboarding.

Is it possible to automate the shortlisting process?

The short (no pun intended) answer is yes. With today’s technologies there are many different ways to shortlist candidates. Everything from AI (artificial intelligence) to simple spreadsheet driven scorecards can be used to automate shortlisting.

The best method of shortlisting is video-based, automated shortlisting. This method allows for situational job questioning and gives the applicant the most clear description of what a day-in-the-life of the job position might look like. It also allows for better data collection on the applicant and therefore a clearer picture of predicting their potential to succeed on the job. Other benefits include: candidates are more apt to answer questions posed through video than text, easy to administer, and a truly unbiased manner in hiring.

For information on our video-based assessments, please click on our AccuVision information page.

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