How to Interview – Step 2 – Shortlisting & CV Sifting

30 03 2010

So you’ve planned your campaign and got the ball rolling with sourcing candidates for your vacancy.  Now what?

Step 1: Acknowledgement

As application forms/CVs roll in what you do next will be critical in ensuring the person applying gets a good impression of your business and what it’s likely to be like working for you.  If for instance you send a polished and informative letter/email to them outlining what they can expect once they apply to you, you can be sure that they’ll have a far more positive view of your business than if you simply keep them on hold until reviewing applications.

So the first step in CV Sifting/Selection is acknowledgement.  I recommend that even before you begin to recruit, you craft letters/emails to send to candidates acknowledging you’ve received your CV and what they can expect (there will of course be other letters/emails you’ll need like progressing to interview etc too).  If you use an Applicant Tracking or Candidate Management System, these can be automated, however if you don’t consider having a devoted email address for job applications with an email response that does the same thing.

Step 2: Selection

Before you began your recruitment you will have identified a cut off point for when you will select from the applications received.  Until this point, resist the temptation of sifting as you run the risk of applying unequal selection criteria. Always keep an eye out for top talent that exactly matches your criteria as you may wish to fast track them to interview sooner.

It is often the case that employers require candidates to complete application forms rather than CVs.  This makes the selection process far more consistent as material is presented in a clear and structured manner and specific questions answered.  That said, in my view there is a lot to be said for accepting CVs in terms of what additional information can be gleaned from how a candidate presents themselves.

Step 3: Transparent Consistency

To ensure there are no claims for unfairness or discrimination in your selection process, it’s essential that you have a clear and transparent strategy underpinning how you choose who to interview.  We recommend you use a rating scale as follows:

From the role profile, single out the top 4-5 skills and/or abilities required for the job e.g. demonstrable experience of face to face customer service. Also include appropriate qualifications necessary for the role.  Avoid outlining number of years experience required, and focus instead on how someone will demonstrate their ability.

Mark these in one axis of an excel spreadsheet

Use a rating/scoring scale such as:

  • 3 for Solid skills and abilities evidenced
  • 2 for  Some skills and abilities evidenced
  • 1 for Lack of evidence
  • 0 for Not applicable

Decide on the total or cut-off mark that is required for the candidate to secure an interview

Start selecting CVs against your criteria – mark the candidates name in the opposite axis to the criteria you’ve identified and score them consistently.  Make sure you have a cup of tea to hand for this.  You may choose to highlight the areas you’re scoring on the person’s application form and take notes also in your spreadsheet.

Add up the scores and progress all those who match your cut-off mark

If there is more than one person involved in the sifting, be sure to brief all those involved and provide a thorough guide on how you’re all working.  You may choose to double-mark the first CVs to ensure you’re all doing the same thing.

Keep a copy of all sifting activity (including for speculative CVs) and recruitment decisions for at least twelve months

Speculative Applications

You may well receive speculative applications outside of specific recruitment campaigns, especially in this job-poor climate.  It’s likely in this situation you will not have a sifting guide against which to select.

If this is the case, firstly you should decide whether to keep the CV on file, pass it on to an interested party, or disregard it.  This decision needs to be driven by business needs and not by the applicant’s sex, age or ethnicity. For example, if you outsource your IT support, you do not need an IT specialist, so inform the applicant of this. Or, given expected attrition in the IT support team, you might anticipate a likely vacancy, so opt to keep the CV on file.  Either way, be aware of data protection laws that govern how you maintain and record information.

Key Points

  • When recruiting define the required ability you’re looking for rather than length of experience.
  • Acknowledge all applications, irrespective of outcome.
  • Produce clear sifting guidelines and ensure all those responsible for sifting are familiar with these.
  • Ensure consistency by double-marking the first batch of CVs to ensure all sifters are working to the same standards.
  • Track decisions for keeping or discarding speculative CVs.

If you’ve any questions about CV sifting and How to Interview, please give me a call on 01202 853647.

Next week we shall explore Preparing to Interview.




4 responses

1 04 2010
Online Recruitment Software

Recruitment Software completely online applicant tracking software which helps to reduce recruiting costs. Get India’s leading online software at affordable price.

27 04 2010
Online Recruitment Software

I have gone through some posts in your blog and is really impressed. I am going to add your blog to my RSS feed reader.

11 06 2010

my cv has been shortlisted.what are the later procedure

11 06 2010

Hi – thanks for commenting. Am not sure what you are asking or want to know? If your CV has been shortlisted then you should have been advised what the next steps are and if you haven’t perhaps consider asking the company?
Please can you elaborate?

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