Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Human resources: recruitment and selection
Human resources: recruitment and selection

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.10 Shortlisting

It is common to shortlist up to six applicants per position, but the exact number may reflect the time you have available for interviewing and the strength of the applicants. The important point is to ensure that as far as possible you finish up with the best possible candidates on the shortlist. This can best be achieved by approaching the task systematically. In other words, the systematic use of criteria as detailed in the job specification should be preferred to reliance on intuition. It is sensible to reject those applications that do not match these key criteria closely. If feasible, keeping a set of notes as you shortlist is a good idea. This helps you to remember or explain the grounds on which you decided to interview or reject each candidate.

Activity 3

Timing: 0 hours 20 minutes

The following details have been taken from application forms submitted by candidates for the post of Buying Department Manager. The job description can be found in Example 1 and the person specification in Table 1 . Imagine that you have already shortlisted three good candidates and need to add only one more to complete your shortlist.

Terry ChurchillAnne OlsenColin ComptonRenate Schmidt
AddressSuburbsVillage 50 miles awayCity centre200 miles away-willing to relocate
Driving licenceYesYesNoYes
Current employerABC Computers picCheapshopsCompact Manufacturing LtdDeutsch Chemicals
Size of organisation£400m turnover p.a.£35m turnover p.a.£60m turnover p.a.£600m turnover p.a.
Position heldPurchasing ManagerSenior BuyerBuyerSenior Buyer
Number of previous employersNoneFiveFourNone
Professional qualificationsMember of professional instituteMember of professional instituteMember of professional instituteNone
Education3 A-levels, 8 GCSEs/O-levels5 GCSEs/O-levels2 A-levels, 8 GCSEs/O-levelsArbitur
Further educationDegree in Chemistry; MBACertificate in ManagementDegree in Operations Management; Certificate in ManagementDegree in Economics from Wuppertal University; Diploma in Management
Court convictionsNoneNoneYes: driving offenceNone
Other informationMember of the local Chamber of CommerceStudying for Professional Diploma in Management; fluent English and DanishStudying for Professional Diploma in ManagementFluent English, German and French; studying for MBA

Who would you shortlist? Why did you make this choice?

The following table might help you to make a decision. It records whether each candidate reaches the ‘minimum’ or the ‘desirable’ level.

Terry ChurchillAnne OlsenColin ComptonRenate Schmidt
Further educationDesirableDesirableDesirableDesirable
Professional qualificationsDesirableMinimumDesirableNone
Experience of purchasingDesirable (too much?)PossiblyDesirableDesirable
Management of peopleDesirableMinimumMinimumDesirable

Several of the characteristics on the job specification are impossible to determine from a candidate's application form. And several of the observable characteristics require some guesswork. You must, therefore, be careful not to put too much weight on subjective judgements. However, the following factors may affect your decision.

Anne Olsen seems the least qualified candidate, mainly because the buying skills required for a retail shop are likely to be very different from the buying skills that you are looking for.

Colin Compton seems excellent, apart from his lack of a driving licence and his conviction. But he lives locally and could easily get to work. How essential is a driving licence for the fortnightly visits to suppliers? As for the conviction, he has paid the penalty – should he be further disadvantaged?

Terry Churchill seems an excellent candidate, but two factors might have influenced you against him: his age and his experience. He is 58 years old and he seems very senior. Is he too senior? But is that a fair question to ask? His motivation for applying is important, not his age. It is important to ask questions in order to reveal whether the candidate is able to do the job, and not for other reasons.

Two factors appear to weaken Renate Schmidt's application: she is not a member of a professional body and she needs to relocate. However, in Germany it is not common for people to join professional bodies and she has applied for the job in the knowledge that she must relocate.