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Spoilt for Choice? How to Narrow Down your Candidate Shortlist

Posted by admin on April 3, 2017

When advertising a new job role within a company, the hope is that you will inundated with people who are interested in working with you and using their skills to help your business grow. However, having a huge list of candidates can often be just as bad as having no one apply at all, especially if you’re stuck for time and busy.

The secret to filtering down your candidate list is to move quickly and efficiently through it. Try not to get other colleagues involved until you’ve found someone you feel would be a huge benefit to your team. Once you’ve got your shortlist (or long list, if you’ve been lucky enough to find a group of people you like) here’s how you can narrow it down.


The initial job advertisement that went out should have described all the required and preferred qualifications needed in order to succeed in the job role. You can use this as a guidelines for narrowing down your candidates. Tally up who in your shortlist has all the required qualifications, and if they possess the preferred ones too. This will leave you with a clear and precise list of the most qualified candidates when based on their applications.

Other Skills

Though their qualifications may seem impressive, most job roles are about more than just technical abilities. The candidates submitted CV and cover letter will be able to help you assess their written and communicational skills, which is a must for most jobs, especially when working with clients or the public. Are both their cover letter and CV easy to read and organised neatly? Do they contain any errors? CV’s that are poorly written and haven’t been checked over can demonstrate laziness and a lack of attention. A cover letter can bring across the general tone of someone, so this could give insight into whether they would be a good fit within your business.

Previous Work

Taking a look at their previous work experience and history is always a great idea when narrowing down a shortlist. Take a look at how long the candidate held down their previous jobs. You are looking for someone who is driven to succeed and progress within your business- if they have gotten a new job every six months, it could be a sign that they are unwilling to commit and unreliable as employees.

Make Contact

Once you have whittled down your shortlist of candidates, send out an email to invite them to an interview. This will give you an idea of their response time and another look at their style of communication. Many employees opt for phone interviews to start with, to see how the candidates present themselves. If they need to talk to clients on the phone in the job role, this is a great way of seeing how they come across. They’ll want to come across as enthusiastic and friendly, as well as seeming engaged throughout the call.

If you’re currently advertising some job roles within your company, we can help. Whether you are a start-up business or a global success, we have a range of services able to accommodate your needs. We will take the time to understand your needs and help shape the requirement to find out exactly what type of candidate is suited to your business.

For more information, get in touch via our contact page or by giving us a call on 01322 305331.