How to Shortlist Candidates with less Effort and More Perfection?

shortlist candidates
We at TheIndiaJobs believe that the process of shortlisting candidates is an essential question in the hiring cycle that employers must follow. The shortlist candidates from their candidate pool that best match the necessary and desirable requirements for the position they are looking to fill.

A rising unemployment rate puts more pressure on hiring, screening, shortlisting, and selection. Employers are currently dealing with applications, which keep increasing with the different qualifications and experiences of candidates applying for a wider range of jobs in light of the economic crisis. Additionally, the rise in remote working means that geographical boundaries are being eliminated, and applicants are applying for positions with companies further away.

There are crucial legal issues that you need to consider when deciding on the process of shortlisting, including avoiding any issues of discrimination that is unlawful against applicants.

Here we will examine the shortlisting phase of the hiring process in greater depth, including the fundamental and essential rules of shortlisting. We will also discuss the shortlisting process and how to avoid the most talented candidates.

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The Fundamental Principles to Shortlist Candidates for the Process of Recruitment

We’ve been recruiting for years, and our frequency at TheIndiaJobs is thousands per month. However, to fulfill the company’s human-resource-related requirements and maintain its reputation, we follow some core principles of shortlisting for the process of recruitment.

We’re sharing these with you.

If you’re a department leader within a larger company, own a small business, or are an employer in a human resource team, identifying a good enough person for your company can be time-consuming and demanding.

Understanding the fundamentals of shortlisting will help you cut down on time between shift and selection’ and determine the most suitable candidate for the position. Particularly, you should be aware of the following three fundamental shortlisting rules:

  • Diversity and equality
  • Objectivity
  • Fairness

Diversity and equality

Before you begin the shortlisting process, understanding the basic principles behind selection and recruitment within diversity and equality is crucial. You must be particularly aware of the protected characteristics defined in the Equality Act 201: age and handicap, gender-reassignment civil partnership and marriage, pregnancy and maternity, religion, race, sexual orientation, and sex.


For example, a gap in an individual’s work schedule could result from long-term sickness. It could be discriminatory if you consider this and allow it to influence your decisions during shortlisting. In the same way, if an application is handwritten and signed, it may be linked to a person’s impairment.


In the process of shortlisting, you should review several applications and evaluate each candidate against the criteria for shortlisting. It would help if you did it neutrally always and did not consider other factors in the applicant’s application and the perception of the applicant’s character to influence the decision-making process.


If you fail to stick to the criteria for shortlisting, you may unintentionally let other factors influence your decision. That way, you could unintentionally be discriminating in a way. You could also mistakenly select candidates who aren’t the most qualified while inadvertently skipping candidates with everything you require.


It is important to ensure that you are honest and impartial in shortlisting. To prevent unintentional or subconscious bias, the SIFT and selection process used during shortlisting and the assessments and interviews must be overseen by at least two experienced persons recruiting candidates for jobs.

It is also important to establish the right, clear shortlist criteria that highlight the vital requirements and are appropriate to complete the job. It would help if you only denied candidates you believe are unsuitable for the position based on these criteria.


After you advertise the position, there should be no further requirements to the recruitment process to ensure that the same criteria evaluate each candidate.

Legal Obligations When Shortlisting Candidates

Should add no further requirements as it is vital both in the legal and practical. There are many aspects of risk when recruiting candidates for a new position that could be a source of discrimination, from unlawfully discriminating in shortlisting to inadvertently excluding qualified applicants.

Particularly, you need to ensure that the criteria used to select applicants do not discriminate through indirect or direct discrimination towards all classes of applicants. It is equally important to use your criteria consistently, fair, and objective for all applicants regardless of race, gender, etc.

Furthermore, with some exceptions in the 2010 Act, you should not ask the job candidates your questions regarding disabilities or health issues during the recruitment process, thus reducing the risk of unfair discrimination against disabled applicants.

legal obligation

Undoubtedly, questions about disability and health are a good way to determine if there is a need for necessary adjustments for disabled individuals to participate in an assessment or attend an interview. However, ensuring that this information doesn’t harm the shortlisting choice is important.

The legal risk is that your shortlisting process could create a variety of practical concerns for your company. For example, you may lose a potential candidate with excessively stringent. Therefore, it would help if you eliminate insufficient shortlisting criteria or ineffective and inadequate techniques used to implement the criteria.

Using software systems to shortlist applicants, particularly those that employ automated keyword matching for screen resumes, can be ineffective and lead to inaccurate results.

Suppose you rely only on technology, without any skilled and well-trained recruitment staff. The shortlisting process will likely fall below what’s needed to select the most suitable candidate to fill the positions.

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What are Positive Actions in the Process of Shortlisting?

Despite the legal risk of discriminating unlawfully against applicants based on protected characteristics described in the previous paragraph, employers can use specific ways to assist those with a protected characteristic during the shortlisting process. These are positive actions.

In the 2010 Act, employers are allowed to act positively to help people who have some special characteristic or are under-represented in the workplace. So, for instance, employers can legally provide a guarantee of interviews for disabled applicants that meet the minimum criteria for shortlisting to be automatically qualified for an interview.

short listing process

Lawful provisions regarding positive action allow employers to select applicants based on their special characteristics (disability, some phobia, etc.); that have the same merit as an alternative candidate. But positive action doesn’t permit an employer to choose a less qualified candidate solely because the candidate has a disability or something.

Positive action is completely voluntary, and you must remember it. There isn’t any legal requirement stating that an employer has to implement the laws governing positive actions, whether in connection with recruitment or any other way.

What Would a Successful Shortlisting Procedure be Like?

To make the process of shortlisting less stressful, The steps below offer an excellent idea to begin:

  • Find out how long your list should be
  • Make a list of your criteria for shortlisting.
  • Create a scorecard for your shortlist
  • Evaluate candidates against this scorecard

Find Out How Long Your List Should Be

It is important to determine how many applicants you’d like to select to interview. It will help you set a benchmark while sifting through the applicants and ensure that you don’t have too many or too few candidates to evaluate.

candidate list

While deciding on your list of candidates; it is important to know how long you need to spend interviewing those candidates and the things that have worked in the past. You may consider including average conversion rates for your selection and recruitment process.

There’s no perfect number you should shortlist to make the best hire. Neither is there a legally binding limit nor any minimum limit on the number of people you can interview. Also, even if you have settled on a specific number of candidates, don’t restrict yourself from finding an ideal candidate.

Select Your Shortlist Criteria

After determining the list of shortlisted candidates, you need to choose the primary criteria you consider essential to the job. However, you should at least include them in the job description and specification as it is advertised.

Any criteria in shortlisting should be tied to job performance instead of personal preference in light of the skills and characteristics of top-performing employees. They are currently in the same job. It would help if you categorized the criteria into what is essential or desirable.

shortlist criteria

The essential criteria are those that candidates must meet to be eligible as a suitable candidate for the position. For example, experience and qualifications are essential criteria. Ideal criteria, on the other hand,t could make someone a better candidate for the position. For example, professional certificates.

Create a Scorecard for Your Shortlist

The next step is to select the necessary and desirable criteria you’ve identified previously and create a shortlist scorecard for your candidates’ list. The goal of the scorecard is to assign a grade for each task for each screened candidate.

For instance, If you’re hiring someone to fill a sales position, your scorecard should include education and retail experience in customer service and communication. You could give scores based on how they meet a certain standard.

shortlist scorecard

A shortlist scorecard serves two reasons:

It assures that you’re applying each criterion equally and uniformly for all applicants; as candidates are evaluated based on the selection criteria, not against one another.

Also, it allows you to quickly and objectively determine and rank the most promising candidates.

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Score Candidates Against This Scorecard

Before deciding which candidates to rank according to your shortlist scorecard, you may want to scrutinize and deny applications that do not meet the requirements. With many applicants, you might have to decide to decline the ones with the smallest number of desirable criteria. Once you’re close to your shortlist, do you evaluate the other applicants on your scorecard?

If you can put more people on your list than you need, look at other reasons to eliminate them. However, regardless of the reason for taking someone off your shortlist; you need to ensure that the reason you are citing isn’t related to any protected characteristic.

score candidates

One way to address the issue of having extra applicants is to include a screening component in your shortlisting process, like an uninvolved Skype call or chat before an interview. You should make sure that any decision to exclude the candidate from your shortlist is not tied to a protected characteristic revealed by any kind that involves direct communications.

What Criteria Should be Included in Shortlisting?

You need to derive the shortlist criteria from your work description and a personal specification; based on both the mandatory and desirable specifications. To increase your quality pool of candidates; make sure your criteria are specific to the job and your company’s requirements.

In a broad sense, the shortlist criteria should comprise the following criteria:

  • Education refers to the minimum entry requirements, like a degree with a minimum classification.
  • The skills and knowledge include knowledge related to the job, such as analyzing data and managing projects.
  • Work experience┬ácan refer to work experiences in a specific industry or area like retail or managerial.
  • Personality traits include problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and the capacity to work effectively in a group.
  • Competencies: These are also referred to as aptitudes. They are the special skills required for accomplishing certain tasks.

It is crucial to ensure that the criteria utilized in shortlisting don’t discriminate against legally protected categories of applicants.

For instance, it is best to specify the required experience instead of asking for a specific number of years; which could discriminate against an applicant because of their age.

In addition, it is vital to keep in mind the importance of safeguarding applicants’ privacy in the new GDPR guidelines; and ensure that only those who have authorized interviewers in shortlisting processes can access and evaluate an applicant’s personal information.

The process of Shortlist Candidates FAQs

What are the criteria for shortlisting an opening?

Shortlisting is an essential step during the recruitment process. Employers select applicants from the pool that meets the most essential, desirable requirements for their desired jobs. Then invite candidates to move on to the next phase of the hiring process.

Why include more people in the process of shortlisting?

To prevent accusations based on bias or avoid complaints, such as discrimination. You need to have more than one individual participant in the shortlisting process.

How many applicants should you select?

It’s based on the job, the area, the number of applications received, etc.

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