Improve Your Recruitment Selection: A Holy Grail Shortlisting Guide
So, you’ve posted a job description for a vacancy that desperately needs to be filled. The response has been great, and quite frankly, a bit overwhelming. How are you going to efficiently sift through numerous applications, while trying not to exclude potential prospects – for this role and perhaps future ones?
For those Employers who are new to this process, and for the rest of us very familiar with the often-dreaded stage of recruiting, the answer is shortlisting!
In its simplest form, shortlisting is selecting a list of candidates from which a final choice can be made. Make no mistake, though simple to explain, this can at times seem to be the most challenging part of the recruiting process. However, it has become a necessary part of the hiring process, especially when bombarded by hundreds of applications. In fact, a well thought out process can actually assist you in discovering potential employees with skills that would benefit your organization now and in the future, as you build a talent bank.
Now that you’ve decided you need to include shortlisting as part of your hiring procedure, how do you proceed?
- First and foremost, you must identify the number of candidates you are willing to interview. This is important, as the whole point of shortlisting is narrowing the applicant pool. This amount can vary, based on the time you have allotted to fill the necessary position and the number of positions to be filled per role.
- Establish the criteria you are looking for. This would include the essential and desirable requirements an applicant may possess. The essential criteria would entail the ‘must-have’ or the bare minimum qualifications needed for an applicant to serve in the required position. It is what can be viewed as mandatory or most needed. On the other hand, desirable requirements can be viewed as ‘nice to have,’ and can make the applicant a better fit for the organization – but not necessarily required.
- Determine the level of detail/evidence that you need to compile from the CVs in order to substantiate the criteria.
- Establish the template or mechanism by which you are going to record the information, whether this is an MS Excel spreadsheet, MS Word table etc, and the various sign off lines/columns that are required for various departments to then come to a mutual agreement on the preferred candidates for interviewing/assessment. MS Excel is recommended as it not only allows for the provision of a clear audit trail of the process, it also allows for easy sorting of candidates – should you use a scoring system.
- It is important to avoid discrimination and bias during this step. A great way to do so is by implementing blind applicant screening which allows you to focus on only the relevant criteria you have created.
- Eliminate the applicants who absolutely do not have what you require. There is no need for perusing applicants who do not have the basics. Remember, you created criteria for a reason.
- At this point, you should have considerably narrowed the number of applications in front of you. A great way of continuing to do so is giving your applicants a score or indicating they have the criteria Yes (Y) or No (N). An option is the Mandatory-Essential-Preferred System, or rather the MEP System. It requires you to give a one (1) for a mandatory or minimum skill needed, a two (2) for an essential or important skill, and finally a three (3) for a preferred or good skill to have. You can then sort the results and you will determine the strongest applicants.
- For Audit Trail purposes, you may also consider inserting columns to log the details to support the scores. As such, you have a comprehensive document to circulate to the relevant parties involved in the process eg Line, and HR.
- While the former technically ends the shortlisting process, you will now have the list of persons whom you want to contact to invite for an assessment centre or interview, it’s always noble to notify the applicants who weren’t chosen. Dispositioning and letting an applicant know why they may not be moving forward can sometimes be quite helpful and maintain your Employer Brand.
- Now that you know what you’re looking for, it is time to start going through applications. A critical step at this stage is to review all the agreed steps noted above and to determine the time it will take your team to process this volume of data. You will need to determine milestones and free up the necessary resources for this to be completed effectively – or engage the services of an experienced third party.
At the end of this process, all that’s left to do is to invite your applicants to an interview. If you have implemented the above you would have identified the applicants who have best met your selected criteria and those that are best ready to execute the duties of their possible new job!
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