Top 5 Tips for Shortlisting Candidates

When hiring for an open position, you and your hiring committee might think you know what your ideal candidate will look like. But when you start reading through resumes, you might discover that it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact skills and qualities you’re seeking. How will you choose one person in such a qualified applicant pool?

The answer, in a nutshell, is to plan out your shortlisting process before you even begin reading resumes. This way, you’ll know what you’re looking for before you can be swayed by someone’s impressive – yet not entirely relevant – skill set.

Here are our five top tips for efficiently shortlisting candidates for an open position.

1. Create requirement minimums.

Before you start reading resumes, identify the basic qualifications a successful applicant in this role would have. Does the candidate need a particular degree? A certain number of years of experience? A specific work history? If candidates don’t meet these basic expectations, then, you’ll be able to eliminate their resumes right away.

2. Identify the skills and qualities your ideal candidate would have.

You’ve already set your low bar for candidates; now create your ideal expectations. What types of skills would your dream candidate possess? What sort of work history? Depending on the number of resumes you receive, you can narrow the pool down from the candidates who meet the basic qualifications to those who exceed your expectations.

3. Land on the number of candidates you’ll eventually interview.

Don’t decide on how many candidates you’ll interview after you’ve started looking through resumes. Choosing a set number before you begin ensures you’ll be selective enough to eliminate middle-of-the-road resumes.

4. Create a ranking system based on the important skills and criteria you’ve chosen.

Once you’ve chosen the candidates you want to interview, rank them. Assign weighted numbers to candidates based on how important certain skills and traits are to you. Then, organize your candidates based on these scores.

5. Develop a shortlist in stages.

Once you’ve created your list of minimums, ideal qualifications, and ranking system, you’re ready to start reading resumes. Complete this in stages. First, eliminate candidates who don’t fit your basic qualifications. Next, choose a small number of ideal candidates. Finally, rank these candidates on a spreadsheet until you’ve reached the number of candidates you want to interview. Shortlisting candidates this way will eliminate unconscious bias.

Still unsure about how to create these shortlisting parameters? CareerMoves can help you identify the skills and job history you’re seeking in your new hire. Since 2000, we’ve helped all sizes of companies create job searches, find appropriate candidates, and choose the most appropriate new colleagues. In short, we’ll help you narrow down the applicant pool to only those select few you want to interview.