Short-listing is the vital first stage in the selection process. Measuring how candidates match up to your selection criteria at this stage is crucial to enable you to objectively assess which of the candidates you wish to consider further in the next part of the selection process, generally the interview stage. This is particularly the case where you have a large number of applicants, in which case you may wish to split the process into a long-list and a short-list stage. (If no suitable applications are received, you may wish to re-advertise the vacancy.)
Ideally, everyone who is part of the selection panel should be involved in the short-listing process either together or independently. However, if this is not practicable, at least two of the panel should be involved.
There are two types of internal applicants who must be short-listed if they meet the essential criteria for the vacancy (in both cases this will be clearly indicated by a covering letter from Personnel Services):
Tips for the short-listing process
Here are some tips to help you use your selection criteria effectively and fairly in the short-listing process:
- Decide which of the selection criteria included in the further particulars you can practically use when reviewing the written applications. You may decide to focus on the essential criteria initially.
- It is useful to give each criterion a value and weighted according to their importance, then you can score each candidate against each criterion and come up with an objective rank order. A simple matrix can be useful for recording this process.
- If you use a criterion based on how well each candidate has completed their application make sure the assessment is not based on arbitrary factors such as standard of hand-writing.
- Base your assessment on the evidence that the candidate has provided and try not to make assumptions to 'fill in the gaps' - if they haven't demonstrated that they have a particular skill or experience then don't assume they have.
- If you have a large number of applicants who appear to meet the essential criteria then use your desirable criteria to try to identify those who are most suitable. You may wish to initially draw up a 'long-list' of those who meet the essential criteria first and then identify those to call for interview from this group.
- Overseas nationals who have recorded in their application form that they would require permission to work in the UK to take up the job should be considered alongside the other applicants in the first instance. It’s also important to remember that the resident population of the United Kingdom contains a range of ethnic and national groups and there are also a wide range of people from outside the UK who are eligible to work here. If there are sufficient applicants who are both currently entitled to work in the UK and meet the criteria for the vacancy, it may be appropriate not to shortlist an overseas national who does not currently have permission to work in the UK in the form of an appropriate visa for the role. In most cases it will only be academic and research vacancies, or those that require specialist skills and qualifications in 'shortage' areas, for which the University would be able to obtain a certificate of sponsorship for a migrant worker who needs a work visa. If you have short-listed overseas nationals for a non-academic role then you are advised to check their eligibility to work status with your Faculty/ Divisional HR Team.
If you have candidates with qualifications from outside the UK, the UK NARIC website contains comprehensive information on how international qualifications compare with their UK equivalents. The University only has limited user access to the site, so if you need to check a qualification equivalence please e-mail email@example.com with the details.
- Ideally you should be looking to short-list no more than about seven candidates (four to six is probably the optimum number).
- Identify reserve candidates in case people drop out.
- Ensure that you can objectively justify the cut-off point between those you short-list and those you do not.
- The Chair-person of your selection panel should be the final arbiter if there is disagreement on who to short-list.
- The eRecruit system then needs be used to formally record the short-listing outcomes and trigger HR to liaise with in setting up the interviews/ selection process. Please follow the eRecruit guidance on this part of the process. Following this guidance will ensure that unsuccessful candidates are sent an email from the eRecruit system.
And remember, individuals can potentially appeal against a decision not to be short-listed so make sure your decisions are fair, objective and non-discriminatory, and properly recorded.
You may have heard about some employers using social networking sites to 'check' candidates out before proceeding to shortlist or offer employment. You are strongly advised not to enter into this practice: social networking sites often contain highly personal information which, taken out of context, should form no part in the selection process for employment; not least because this practice may lead to allegations of discrimination, as such sites will often identify the person's age, sexual orientation, marital status etc.