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Shortlisting job candidates fairly and effectively

Author: Alison Clayton-Smith


  • Shortlisting involves the employer reviewing applications against a set of job-related or shortlisting criteria and identifying a suitable pool of candidates for further assessment. (See What is shortlisting?)
  • There are several reasons for effective shortlisting, for example avoiding discrimination and ensuring a pool of good quality candidates. (See The business case for effective shortlisting)
  • To ensure that the shortlisting process is fair and objective, the employer should consider each application against the same set of criteria. These criteria should relate to the requirements of the job. (See The importance of developing shortlisting criteria)
  • The employer should develop shortlisting criteria by referring to the job description, competency profile and person specification for the role. (See Developing shortlisting criteria)
  • The employer should create a shortlisting panel of at least two people who will decide on the shortlisting criteria. (See Who should decide on the shortlisting criteria?)
  • Screening involves an initial review of applications against a set of basic qualifying criteria. (See Screening out unsuitable candidates)
  • The employer may use an online applicant tracking system to automate screening and/or shortlisting. This can save the employer a lot of time, but there are disadvantages to such systems. (See Online sifting)
  • Each member of the shortlisting panel should assess applications on their own to help prevent bias, following which they should meet to agree the final shortlist. (See The shortlisting process)
  • The shortlisting panel should avoid making assumptions about a candidate's ability to do the job and base decisions on information relevant to the role. (See Avoiding bias and discrimination in shortlisting)