A Shortlisting Criteria How-To Guide For Identifying The Best Candidates

Figuring out the right shortlisting criteria to identify the best candidates is still the top recruiting challenge for talent acquisition professionals.

52% of talent acquisition leaders say the most difficult part of their job is identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool

To help you become more efficient and accurate when shortlisting candidates, I’ve created this guide on how to create the right shortlisting criteria to find the best candidates.

What is shortlisting criteria?

Shortlisting criteria are the essential and desirable criteria needed to do the job, as well as the minimum levels of each that the shortlisted candidate should possess.

Essential shortlisting criteria

Essential shortlisting criteria are the ones that a candidate must have to be considered qualified for the role. One of the most common essential shortlisting criteria is whether the candidate is legally able to work in the country.

Essential criteria are sometimes called knockout questions because either the candidate has it and moves forward in the process or they don’t and gets screened out.

Desirable shortlisting criteria

Desirable shortlisting criteria are the ones that would make someone a stronger candidate for the role. Desirable criteria are sometimes referred to as nice-to-haves.

For example, a hiring manager may desire a minimum of two years of a experience in a role but will also consider candidates with less experience.

How to determine the right shortlisting criteria

Shortlisting criteria should be related to on-the-job performance. To avoid unconscious bias, these criteria should not be based on personal opinions or gut feelings of what managers think are required for success in the role.

Looking for a shortlisting software solution?

Shortlisting criteria can include:

  • Education & Training
  • Work experience
  • Skills & Knowledge
  • Personality traits
  • Competencies

Tip 1: Create shortlisting criteria based on what the job requires

Determine what the employee is expected to achieve in terms of:

  • goals and objectives
  • day-to-day responsibilities
  • KPIs or other measures of success

The easiest way to do this type of job analysis is to measure the qualities and traits of successful employees currently in the role.

Tip 2: Rate your shortlisting criteria using a scorecard

Take the essential and desirable criteria you’ve identified and create a shortlisting scorecard for your candidates by listing out each criteria and assigning a rating for each candidate.

Having a shortlisting scorecard ensures you’re applying each and every criteria fairly and consistently across candidates. It also allows you to easily rank and identify who the strongest candidates are.

For example, if you’re hiring a retail associate, your scorecard might look like this:

an example of a shortlisting criteria scorecard

Tip  3: Leverage shortlisting software that automatically ranks candidates

The next generation of shortlisting software has been called AI for recruiting.

Instead of manually applying shortlisting criteria to every candidate, intelligent shortlisting software uses your existing resume database to learn the qualities and traits of successful employees currently in the role.

The software then automatically applies this knowledge to score and rank every candidate in your applicant pool. Automating this process is estimated to save you 23 hours per hire.

This is a huge leap forward because intelligent shortlisting software closes the recruitment loop by adding work performance when determining a role’s criteria for success.

Companies that have adopted AI for recruiting in their shortlisting process have seen performance increase by 20% and turnover decrease by 35%.

The takeaways

  1. Shortlisting criteria are the essential and desirable criteria needed to do the job, as well as the minimum levels of each that the shortlisted candidate should possess.
  2. Essential criteria are the ones that a candidate must have to be considered qualified for the role.
  3. Desirable criteria are the ones that would make someone a stronger candidate for the role.
  4. To avoid unconscious bias, this criteria should not be based on personal opinions or gut feelings of what managers think are required for success in the role.
  5. Create shortlisting criteria based on what the job requires in terms of goals, daily responsibilities, and KPIs. The easiest way to do this is to measure the qualities and traits of successful employees currently in the role.
  6. Rate your shortlisting criteria using a scorecard.
  7. Leverage shortlisting software that automatically ranks candidates for you. Take advantage of AI for recruitment to save yourself 23 hours per hire.

Whatever recruitment shortlisting strategies you use, make sure you know how to determine the right criteria to identify the best candidates for your open role.

Get a demo of Ideal.com's intelligent shortlisting platform for recruitment

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices and data-based recruitment. She writes about trends and research in talent acquisition, HR tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min

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