HR 17 October 2018

How to shortlist candidates and hire smart: A recruiter’s perspective

A recruiter's top tips on shortlisting candidates quickly and efficienty

Lessons from a recruiter: Top tips for SMEs on shortlisting candidates quickly and effectively beyond gut feel and resumes.

Shortlisting candidates is potentially the most important part of the recruitment process. With the majority of roles often having tens or even hundreds of applicants, ensuring that you’re selecting the most relevant candidates to go through to the next stage of the process is crucial to recruitment success.

With this in mind, Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment has collated a series of tips to help employers efficiently sort through a series of applications and create a shortlist of talent to take through to interview:

Start with your person specification

Before you start the shortlisting process, it’s important to define what your ideal candidate looks like. Ask yourself the qualifications and experience which will be needed to succeed in the position and the skills they’ll need to possess to hit the ground running. It can be useful to compare your person specification against a current top-performer if you have an employee in a parallel role.

Mark-up your person specification with M-E-P

After writing your person specification, Aaron Wallis suggest its useful to label the document using three attributes: mandatory, essential and preferred, giving yourself a list of minimum requirements, skills they need to demonstrate and ‘icing on the cake’ elements that a candidate could possess.

Conduct your shortlist in stages

The quickest way to shortlist is to do it in stages. The first stage should be to run through all the CVs and simply exclude those who don’t meet the mandatory requirements you’ve defined earlier in the process. This should quickly make a long list of applications much more manageable.

In stage 2 you should go through the remaining CVs, assigning the candidates scores against each item in your list of essential criteria, recording the scores on a spreadsheet or database.  This will give you an easy way to rank candidates and give you a top ten shortlist to work with.

Use more than ‘gut feel’

Sticking to a structured and logical M-E-P system should help you shortlist candidates without superficial bias like judging a candidate from the design of their CV or what they’ve labelled under their interests and hobbies. If they have all of the mandatory requirements for the role, use the interview stage to judge candidates properly – CVs will only tell you so much.

Robert Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment said: “Shortlisting candidates effectively is the first step to finding a new employee who can drive your business forward. Using a logical and structured shortlisting process is crucial to success, or you could end up missing out on the talent hidden within the pile of applications.”

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