Short-Listing Candidates: How To Complete the Process

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 21 December 2022

Published 31 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies use a specific short-listing process to examine a group of professionals who apply for a position. This procedure allows hiring managers to identify which job candidate is best for the role. It can be important for both hiring professionals and individuals applying for jobs to understand what this process entails in order to make better decisions during the hiring process. In this article, we define what short-listing candidates means, explain the process and discuss the advantages the process offers, plus things to consider when using this method when trying to hire new employees.

What is short-listing candidates?

Short listing candidates is a process that identifies which candidates in an application pool have the best qualifications. Organisations use this competitive technique during the hiring process to ensure that they recruit highly skilled employees who have a strong desire to join their company. To use short-listing practices, hiring managers review candidate applications and make a list of which candidates have the best qualifications. Hiring managers usually offer an interview to short-listed candidates who seem like a good fit for the role.

When short-listing candidates, organisations usually have these goals:

  • Agree on the desired criteria for candidates

  • Discard candidate applications that don't fit the criteria

  • Find a list of candidates who seem qualified for the role and meet the criteria

  • Create a list of questions for the interview process

  • Decide whether to ask for additional candidate information before or after the interview process

Related: 20 of the Best Interview Questions To Ask a Job Candidate

What is the process to short-list candidates?

Here are the steps that management and human resources professionals typically take in the short-list process:

1. Determine the short-list criteria

The first step in the short-listing process is to determine the qualifications and requirements a candidate must meet to earn a spot on the short-list. To do this, assemble a team of professionals who are responsible for hiring decisions. Then, discuss what type of credentials and qualities a professional may need to succeed in the role in which you're hiring. It's important to consider these qualities in an objective manner.

Here are some common criteria that organisations often include on their short-list:

  • Education

  • Professional experience

  • Skill set

  • Knowledge and proficiency levels

  • Personality traits

2. Create a scorecard

Creating a scorecard allows hiring professionals to objectively compare candidates. This can help ensure that the candidate who meets the most criteria are clearly identifiable. To create a scorecard, you can make a chart that lists the criteria for the short-list. Be sure to include space on your chart to assign a score for each criterion. Then, decide on a clear scoring system. For example, you might use a scale of one through five, five being the most ideal standard and one indicating a poor score.

In order to keep accurate and neat records, consider printing out this scorecard for every candidate or manage it on a computer application. Either way, using one scorecard per person can help you make individual decisions about the candidates.

Related: How To Conduct an Interview in 8 Steps (With Tips)

3. Establish the length of your list

Because interviewing candidates is a time-consuming process, it's helpful to determine how many candidates your team intends to interview before beginning the process. Think about how many professionals you may need for the role and the success rate of interviews within your company to determine how many candidates you should consider. During the process, remember the number of professionals you plan to put on your list to ensure you only make note of the most qualified candidates.

4. Use applicant tracking system (ATS) software

Use ATS software to scan resumes to ensure that the hiring team only has to manually examine candidate applications that meet the basic requirements for the job. While this step is not mandatory for the process, it's helpful to use this software in order to save time and effort.

Using artificial intelligence

While you can complete this process with minimal software and technology, there are several benefits to using artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence can automatically score candidates for you by scanning resumes and comparing it to your predetermined standards. While this can work best for jobs that require a large number of recruits, such as customer service positions, using artificial intelligence often saves you time during the hiring process. Here are some of the benefits of using artificial intelligence in your hiring process:

  • Accuracy: AI considers a high volume of information when selecting candidates, allowing your company to discover those who create strong resumes. It also can eliminate the chance of human error in the hiring process.

  • Efficiency: AI can complete the list of eligible candidates quicker than a professional can. This allows you to focus your efforts elsewhere in the hiring process, such as preparing interview questions.

  • Impartial: Using AI allows the hiring process to be as free from unintentional human bias as possible. This can help you find the most qualified candidate.

  • Consistency: Because you preset the metrics AI uses to find qualified candidates, using this method of short-listing allows you to stay consistent throughout the hiring process. When completing the process manually, professionals may be more likely to change their opinions on the criteria, making the process slightly inconsistent.

Related: Recruitment Process Steps: What Is Involved?

Special considerations

When completing this process, it's important to consider how you can promote diversity in the hiring process. This is especially important if you choose to use AI software to assist you in the process, as the software is unable to consider the human factors of a resume. Consider factors that may prevent candidates from passing through a traditional ATS software.

For example, if a candidate has a learning disability, they may not include keywords in their resume. Still, they may be a valid candidate for the role. In order to ensure that your company is giving diverse hires a chance, consider the following:

  • Some applications may not be in a traditional form.

  • A candidate may have gaps in their employment history due to illness.

  • Candidates who are unfamiliar with your company may not understand you're usual application process.

  • A professional may need to send an application in later than other candidates.

Considering the factors that may prevent a professional from submitting a traditional application and resume ensures that your hiring process is mindful of the importance of diversity. It also allows you to consider unconventional candidates who can make valuable contributions to the company.

Related: Learning About Diversity and Inclusion: 10 Free Virtual Courses

Advantages of short-listing

Properly managing this process at your company can offer the following advantages:

Manages the application pool

Because hundreds of professionals can apply for the same role, the hiring process can feel overwhelming as a hiring manager. This process can help high volumes of applicants feel more manageable, especially when using AI software to assist you. By providing specific criteria and setting clear standards, this process can help you find the best candidates for the role at a quick pace.

Related: How To Improve Your Attention To Detail in 4 Steps

Sets clear expectations

Collaborating with your coworkers on this process can help your company set clear expectations for the credentials you value in candidates. Because the process requires your team to choose certain criteria in order to identify which professionals are the best fit for a position, hiring managers can consider what attributes may help a candidate succeed in their company.

In addition to using this information to find a new hire, you can also apply these criteria to existing employees during performance reviews to improve their quality of work.

Identifies company progress

This process helps you understand how your company's progress compares to its goals. For example, if your company aims to hire three candidates, but you could only find one using a short-list, then you can identify what obstacles are preventing you from achieving the goal. This realisation can encourage your company to change its practices to ensure success. In this scenario, you may need to advertise the company's open positions on different platforms in order to attract more qualified candidates.

Acts efficiently

Because short-listing creates order within the hiring process, it can often help companies avoid the usual delays when trying to hire new employees. This is because it assigns objective value to certain credentials, which makes it easier and more efficient to search through the application pool.

When using ATS and AI software, professionals can complete this process even faster, which is ideal for situations where companies need to find a replacement for an open position quickly. It also can decrease the need the hiring professionals' involvement, so then they can focus on other important job tasks.

Explore more articles