Shortlisting on a Shoe String

 In AU News, Business

Your Pocket Guide to Shortlisting on a Budget.

Recruitment can be costly – in terms of time and money. Finding the right person can take up to 68 days, according to a 2015 study by management consultancy company, CEB. Regardless of the process, recruitment costs can reach up to two-thirds of an employee’s annual salary, according to WorkplaceInfo.

At Employment Office, we believe the recruitment process is an exciting opportunity to discover your next star – and should not be seen as a burden to your bottom line!

With this in mind, we have put together a little pocket guide to shortlisting on a budget – a guide to finding the right people for your organisation, minimising the time and cost impacts, and without compromising the quality of your recruitment process.

Read on as we share with you the most efficient way to conduct shortlisting – a six step strategy focusing on getting recruitment right from the get-go, that promises to keep your hip-pocket happy.

  1. Conduct a detailed job analysis

It is essential that you identify, and get all stakeholders on the same page regarding; the aim of the role, the position description, the selection criteria, and the vision of your ideal candidate.

Organise a single meeting with all staff involved in the hiring process (Recruiter, HR team, Future Leader) to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Be sure to brief each staff member on the aim of the meeting beforehand and inform them to bring any relevant material (previous job descriptions, hand over notes and an exit interview transcription). This simple but critical step will minimalize email-tennis and set the ball in motion for the next stage of recruitment, helping condense the time to hire.

  1. Seek the right information from applicants

With certain competitive roles attracting hundreds of applicants, it is simply not viable to read every resume and cover letter. ‘Screening questions’ refers to a series of questions determined by you that will immediately ‘knock out’ unsuitable candidates, and equally, draw attention to outstanding candidates.

75 to 88 per cent of applicants are screened-out when the recruiter first glances at their resume.

Screening questions help accelerate the recruitment process as you no longer need to sift through hundreds of irrelevant resumes that recruitment software will automatically identify as unsuitable.

When designing screening questions, consider which factors are ‘make or break’ in terms of legal requirements and the candidates’ skills.
Legal necessities: If your role requires a heavy vehicle licence or re-assignment to a remote location, be sure to flag these in your screening questions. It sounds simple, but all too often recruiters forget to ask candidates about key criteria, resulting in time being wasted by sorting through resumes of candidates who legally cannot do the job.

Qualifications: Many competitive jobs have non-negotiable requirements – you can set the bar high with screening questions, weeding out candidates who haven’t yet reached the required number of years of experience or level of education that the role demands.

In-depth insights: Design open-ended questions with the key requirements of the role in mind. Your questions could include anything from ‘Describe what you have learned from other leaders, and how this has shaped your leadership style,’ to ‘Discuss a time when you had to deal with a serious customer service issue – how did you handle the situation?’

  1. Screen with phone or video interview

Before investing time and energy in face to face interviews, it’s essential to communicate with candidates in real-time to get a sense of their personality and verbal communication skills. A phone interview, or better, a recorded video interview as conducted at Employment Office, will help you arrive at a high-quality shortlist with new intel that you can use to guide inform your questions in the final face-to-face interviews.
When resources are tight, every minute counts, so be ready with a list of questions at hand and know what you are looking for in terms of essential, desirable and undesirable responses. 15 to 25 minutes should be sufficient for you to decide whether to continue the candidate to the next stage.

  1. Conduct Face to Face interviews

Structure and standardise the interviews – Have a clear plan of how your interview should go and keep an eye on the clock to stay on track. This will get easier each time. Secondly, ensure all interviews follow a similar structure to make it easy to compare applicants later.

Involve others – Having multiple interviewers reduces bias and enables recruiters to focus on one or two skill sets each, rather than one interviewer looking for all qualities in the candidate. Alternatively, one recruiter could ask questions, while the other HR representative takes notes.

Address what’s important: the behavioural and theoretical – To craft your interview questions, revisit the job description and consider the key selection criteria. Ask questions that address experience, skills, values and desired behavioural tendencies.

The best questions challenge candidates to share an anecdote with you – perhaps a time when they overcame pressure or made a significant change to processes within their company in the face of unyielding resistance. Telling a story makes it easier for the candidate to relax, and gives you the opportunity to tease out the candidate’s skills, rather than the candidate simply listing their attributes.

Compare apples with apples – Many recruiters assign ratings to each response in order to have a numerical figure that will enable them to quickly identify outstanding candidates. To reduce the margin of error, ensure all interviews have the same idea of what a ‘10’ and ‘0’ looks like.

Consider cultural fit – The face-to-face interview represents a critical opportunity for you to consider if the person would adapt to your work environment and feel comfortable among your team. Does the candidate prefer to work independently or with the team?

  1. Consider a Group Assessment Day (GAD)

For organisations hiring in bulk or testing a number of strong applicants for a competitive position, a Group Assessment Day is a popular alternative to multiple interviews. GADs afford recruiters the benefits of an individual interview (as some recruiters choose to conduct individual interviews during the GAD), and the opportunity to observe candidates in teams, and in role-play situations relevant to the role.

Observing candidates for two hours or more for both behavioural and skills qualities means that you improve your chance of uncovering the best match for the role, compared to only analysing a candidate in an individual interview.

In the short term, GADs save HR managers, who are hiring in bulk, from hours in the interview room. In the long term, GADs lead to higher quality hires and thus, reduced turnover.

  1. Give your candidate the all-clear

Remember, more often than not, outstanding candidates are also applying to your competitors. Thus, at this late stage of the recruitment process, your candidates are a ‘flight risk’ – they are time sensitive, so you must be too. We recommend conducting background and reference checks as efficiently as possible.

Background checksKeep your workplace safe and protected from legal nightmares by conducting thorough pre-employment checks. This could include police checks, education verification checks, medical checks and visa checks.

Skills testingA simple online skills test could mean the difference between an outstanding hire and an incorrect hire. A skills test is an easy way to ensure candidates have the skills they claim. Skills testing could include Microsoft office testing, typing, numeracy and literacy, and attention to detail, technical writing and business communication tests, or more comprehensive tests relevant to particular roles.

The Key Take-Away

Ultimately, the key take-away is that you can only save time and money in the long term by implementing high-quality recruitment practices today. A streamlined recruitment method as outlined above will save your team hours in manual labour and will cut-out non-essential communication. This means your candidate-attraction strategy will be lean in terms of resources but mean in terms of hire-power.


Editor’s note: In celebration of the holiday season, Employment Office is delighted to offer clients our Candidate Video Star Special. Book by 5pm Thursday 21st Dec and we will:

  • Rate and rank your candidates according to your criteria
  • Record up to 10 video screening interviews (each approx 10 minutes duration)
  • Tailor the interview questions to your needs
  • Accelerate the screening process, getting you to the best candidates quicker and without hassle
  • Handle all candidate care over the Christmas period
  • Assist with scheduling your face to face interviews

Contact us today and mention ‘Christmas Special’ to take advantage of this fantastic offer.

Employment Office is the leader when it comes to uncovering top talent. Click to learn why we are not a traditional dinosaur recruitment agency, and how we can give you bang for your buck.


 WorkplaceInfo, Recruiting Costs, accessed 2017,

Signature Staff, The True Cost of Hiring New Employees, 2016

CEB, Recruiting Slowdown Hurts the Bottom Line, 2015:

Ideal, Shortlisting Step-By Step Guide For Candidate Recruitment, accessed 2017,






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