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A Guide to Shortlist Top Candidates: A Checklist

Henry Yu

November 27, 2023

The right shortlisting criteria brings the right candidates to the top. This 4-step Guide to Shortlist Top Candidates will help you objectively identify top talent for your organization.

A Guide to Shortlist Top Candidates in 4-Steps

Step 1: Determine your Shortlisting Criteria

Shortlisting criteria are the essential and desirable criteria needed to do the job and the minimum level of skill or ability that the shortlisted candidate should possess.

These criteria should be related to on-the-job performance and ideally should be captured in the job description.

*A short note on legal and discrimination issues: Using shortlisting criteria that are correlated with job performance helps you avoid legal and discrimination issues.

Shortlisting criteria can include: Education, Work Experience, Skills and Knowledge, Personality Traits, Competencies

Differences between essential and desirable criteria:
Essential criteria are the ones that a candidate must meet to be considered for the role. A simple example of an essential criterion is whether the candidate is legally able to work in the country.

Desirable criteria, are ones that would make someone a stronger candidate for the role. An example of a desirable criterion is a professional certification.

Step 2: Create a Shortlisting Scorecard

Take the essential and desirable criteria you’ve identified above and create a shortlisting scorecard for your candidates. The purpose of this scorecard is to list out each criteria so that you can assign a rating for each screened candidate.

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

Having a shortlisting scorecard serves two purposes:

  1. Ensures you are applying each criterion fairly and consistently across candidates.
  2. Allows you to easily and objectively identify the strongest candidates.

How many candidates do you have to shortlist to get a successful hire?

The best way to determine the length of your shortlist is to work backwards from your own the average recruitment conversion rates.

As a reference point, the industry average application-to-interview conversion rate is 12%, the interview-to-offer conversion rate is 17%, and the offer-to- accepted conversion rate is 89%.

According to these numbers, for every 100 candidates you source, you need to shortlist 12 of them to interview, two of them will receive an offer, and one candidate will accept in order for you to get one successful hire.

Option #1 Manually screening resumes

According to industry stats, 75% of applicants are unqualified and 88% are not strong enough to move forward to an interview.

When 75 to 88 percent of the resumes you receive for an open req are ones you have to screen out, it’s obvious why shortlisting is the most time-consuming part of recruitment.

Manual resume screening may still be effective for roles with a very low number of applicants. Otherwise, it may be time to consider using technology to help reach top talent quickly.

Option #2 Using AI to screen resumes

The future of shortlisting is being called “intelligent shortlisting” or applying the “big data treatment” to candidate information.
In a nutshell, intelligent shortlisting is adding functionality to an existing ATS that allows it to screen, grade, and shortlist candidates beyond keyword matching.

How AI-powered shortlisting works:

  1. Software that uses an AI machine learning algorithm integrates with your existing ATS.
  2. The software uses your existing resume database to learn which candidates moved on to be successful.
  3. The software learns about existing employees’ experience, education, and other characteristics and applies this knowledge to new applicants in order to shortlist the strongest candidates.

The major benefits of shortlisting using AI over traditional manual shortlisting:

  1. Replaces the time-consuming process of creating shortlisting criteria.
  2. Ensures the shortlisting criteria that the software uses is correlated with the job by using data from your existing employees.
  3. Ensures objective and consistent application of the criteria across all candidates reducing problems related to compliance and discrimination.
  4. Reduces false positives and false negatives because candidates can’t trick the ATS (e.g., keyword stuffing) nor do qualified candidates slip through the cracks.

So, does AI-powered shortlisting work?

Companies that have integrated algorithms into their recruitment process have seen their turnover rates decrease by 35%, performance increase by 20%, and revenue per employee improve by 4%.

Intelligent shortlisting software like Ideal lives inside your existing ATS so it doesn’t disrupt your workflow, the candidate workflow, nor require IT support.

Couple this with the hours you save per hire by automating screening in the first place, intelligent shortlisting represents the holy grail of recruitment.