Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions
Shortlisting is the process of identifying candidates from the applicant pool that best meet the requirements and criteria of a job posting and who will be moved forward in the recruiting process. In other words, creating a “short” list or narrowed-down selection of qualified candidates whom an organization wants to contact.
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.
Why is shortlisting important?
Shortlisting will help to speed up and better manage the hiring process. One of the benefits is that it establishes standards for ideal candidates. It also gives an organization valuable insight into the recruiting strategy. If a company has difficulty finding applicants to shortlist, it can signal that expectations are too high or job postings are not on the right platforms.
How to shortlist candidates
1. Determine your criteria
Before a job is posted it’s necessary to determine the essential and desirable criteria required for the role. Essential criteria are often called “knockout questions” as they are what a candidate must have to move forward. These vary from hard skills, to work visas or a driver's license. Unlike the must-haves, desirable criteria are the nice-to-have, like proficiency in a foreign language or experience with specific software. Most important is that whatever criteria you choose can be applied across all candidates consistently and fairly.
Some typical shortlist criteria include:
2. Decide the maximum number of shortlisted candidates
The goal of a shortlist is to narrow down the applicant pool into a manageable number of candidates. Setting the maximum number of candidates to shortlist may depend on the resources available or how quickly a role needs filling. Some organizations choose a percentage of applicants to shortlist vs. a fixed number. Analyzing the outcomes of past interview-to-hiring conversions is also useful.
3. Screening to shortlist candidates to interview
One way to screen applicants is by manually creating a shortlisting scorecard grid to rank and identify the strongest candidates to move forward. These days, many organizations use HR software tools like Applicant Tracking Systems that automate parts of the screening process, weeding out applicants based on keywords or answers to screening questions.
Best practices for shortlisting candidates