Building a strong candidate shortlist is fundamental to successful hiring and an important step in the recruitment process. Being clear on what you’re looking for and setting standards early on will help you identify the most suitable candidates for your role. Here are 4 simple steps to help you get it right and make shortlisting fast and easy.

Set your standard

Before you start going through resumes, have a think about others in your business (or outside your business) who perform this same role to a really high standard. What unique qualities do they possess that make them a standout employee? Usually it’s not specific skills that set them apart. High performing employees in your business are most suited to the specific environment and culture.

An example of this maybe a tech company that has two equally experienced sales people but one outperforms the other even though both are provided exactly the same tools, resources and opportunities.

For instance, Salesperson A has spent 5 years in a tech startup and enjoys a fast paced and frantic environment with lots of team competition because that’s his/her motivator. Salesperson B has worked for 5 years in a global software company where they’ve had a longer sales cycle and structure. They’re under-performing in your company because the shorter sales cycle and lack of face to face client interaction doesn’t suit them. Bringing in a huge prestigious deal is more motivating to them than being top of the leaderboard each month.

For this company, they need to hire people more like Salesperson A who are great at building trust and rapport with potential clients over the phone, enjoy shorter sales cycles and are motivated by quick wins and being No.1 each month.

Once you’ve identified those high performing ‘role models’, screen for those specific attributes when you create your candidate shortlist.

Screen for skills and attitude

When you’re clear on the standard required to be successful, you then focus on any ‘must have’ skills or experiences that are real deal breakers for you. Without those ‘must haves’, it’s more than likely they won’t succeed in that particular role. This could be projects they’ve been involved with, the type of companies they have worked for in the past (e.g. SMEs or enterprise), experience using specific technologies, leadership skills or developing new ideas/products etc.

Attitude is equally as important as skill set but that’s not something you can screen off a piece of paper. In the initial interviews, look for evidence that they’re really interested in the opportunity and your business, Is this opportunity something that will challenge and inspire them? Have they taken the time to do some research on you and your business? If they have, these are all positive signs that they are genuinely interested in the role. If your work environment is particularly challenging or unique, ask for examples of when they have experienced something similar and how they succeeded and achieved results under those circumstances. Real examples will reveal more about the candidate’s character and attitude.

Culture fit

You need to consider both the team and company culture when hiring as they can be quite different to each other. Is the person they’re reporting to a supportive and easy-going manager who everyone loves working for or someone who can be tense, distant and a little difficult at times? Look for evidence they have been successful working under a similar management style.

For overall culture fit, ask for examples of when they have been involved with building relationships with others outside their immediate team. These answers can reveal if they enjoy opening up to others and building positive relationships across the wider business. You’re looking for people who will enhance your culture – those that can handle setbacks, motivate and support others and hold similar values to those of the company.

Future fit

When shortlisting candidates, it’s important to consider how long the candidate might be challenged in the role. There’s no point hiring a candidate who has all the experience and has performed the very same job in the past but will have no real opportunity to try and do new things. It may be the easier option to hire them because they’ll hit the ground running, but if they leave a short time later because the job isn’t as exciting or as challenging as they hoped – you’re right back at the beginning and on the back foot.

Hire not only for right now, but for 6-12 months time. Think about the shortlisted candidate’s potential and what they can bring to your business.

So there you have it. 4 simple steps that will bring clarity to who you need and help you to find the best candidates for your shortlist; making your job of recruiting for the business a lot faster and ultimately more successful. At Employment Innovations our HR Consultants can guide you through the interview process, provide recommendations on how to shortlist candidates along with all documents, frameworks and contracts required. Contact Us today.