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What are disadvantages of shortlisting in recruitment? And how to avoid them.

A shortlist of candidates doesn’t always guarantee they are the most suitable ones for you. In fact it could be a disadvantage to your business to rely on it, particularly if you’ve taken a “hands-off” approach to the process.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
Coworkers having a lively discussion around a table

You’ve hired a recruiter. Their brief is to find you the best person to fill a specific role – for the sake of this blog, let’s say it’s a gun Sales Manager you’re looking for – your COVID recovery strategy requires someone who can quickly lead your team to higher revenue levels.

You’re relying on that recruiter to deliver you a shortlist of the best candidates in the market. And you’re more than likely paying a percentage of the successful candidate’s salary in return for that service.

When a shortlist becomes a disadvantage?

Your candidate shortlist arrives – Mary, John, and Andrew are offered for your consideration. But how do you know that the list is actually representative of the best available candidates?

Here’s what may have gone wrong with the candidate list:

  • Perhaps they were just the easiest to find with a Seek ad!
  • Maybe they are the only ones that have experience in your specific industry.
  • Let’s hope they’re not just the three requiring the highest salaries (after all, the recruiter’s fee is based on the salary offered and accepted).
  • Maybe time pressure has meant the recruiter has only reviewed the first batch of applications that came in.
  • Candidates may have been rejected too early on the discriminatory basis of ethnic origin, age or gender.

The truth is you’re placing all your trust in the recruiter to get it right for you. And that could be a mistake when relying on a candidate shortlist may actually become a disadvantage for you!

After all, recruiters are in business too – it’s in their interests to place a candidate as quickly as possible for the very best fee they can achieve.

Here’s some tips on how to get the most suitable candidate shortlist for your role.

The very best hiring outcomes happen when clients and recruiters work together – recruiters share a range of candidates who may fit the role (for various reasons they can clearly articulate) and clients review those applications with the view of deciding which ones should move to a shortlist for further investigation.

1. Be really specific with your brief.

A professional recruiter will always ask you lots of questions to make sure they get the information they need but in other cases a lack of experience or time means the salient information may not be gathered.

Be sure to be clear about things like what industry experience you’re happy with, what level of experience you want the candidates to demonstrate, and the structure of the team they will be working with.

2. Be clear about what the “deal breakers” are.

It happens too many times that a candidate is presented to a client, only for the client to reject them based on something that ideally would have been clarified at the beginning of the recruitment process.

Again, a professional recruiter will ask you what they are when taking the brief, but if not, speak up! These “deal breakers” will help your recruiter decide what weightings to apply to their selection criteria, thereby eradicating unsuitable candidates early in the piece.

A warning though – make sure your deal breakers are legal, reasonable and based in evidence!

3. Ask your recruiter to explain their approach to sourcing candidates for the role.

This is a great start to building confidence in your recruiter and the process. Professional recruiters will use multiple channels to source candidates and will be able to clearly justify those choices.

Ideally, the list will include a review of candidates already in their database, a broad campaign on multiple job boards, and in the case of a gun Sales Manager, a targeted search component.

4. Ask your recruiter to share candidate information early in the process.

A professional recruiter will always create a “long shortlist” for their own interview purposes. This is an ideal time to have your first consultative meeting with your recruiter – go through the long list together so you can reject any candidates you deem unsuitable.

This meeting will give you both a chance to broaden your thinking – for example, your recruiter may have identified a candidate that on paper may not look suitable but in fact, is just what you need.

Discussing the attributes of that candidate early in the process will engender confidence that your recruiter, while respecting the brief, is also thinking laterally in your best interests.

At Just Right People Recruitment, we achieve this via a secure online shared workspace with our clients, where you can see the resumes and our notes for all candidates being evaluated for shortlist purposes and comment on them in real time.

5. Make sure your recruiter provides a balanced assessment of their recommended candidates.

Recruiters are human beings and while they’ve hopefully been trained to be aware of them, are as prone to falling into the common psychological traps as the next person.

Recruiters will almost always focus only on the positives of a candidate to justify their position but a professional recruiter will also share any areas of concern they may have about a candidate. It is then up to you and your recruiter to decide whether those concerns are of any salience.

After all, no candidate is perfect. What you are looking for is the best fit.

A No Disadvantage candidate shortlist is rightfully yours.

Like any product or service, you, the client, deserves to get what you are paying for. And you don’t want a flawed approach in the shortlist phase to disadvantage your hiring process in any way.

In the case of recruitment, aim for a shortlist of candidates who have been widely sourced and professionally and objectively evaluated as being the best for your job and your company.

Professional recruitment and fair pricing? Yes, it‘s possible!

At Just Right People Recruitment we‘ll give you the flexibility to choose between three different pricing models. And we guarantee each one will deliver a high-quality recruitment outcome tailored to your job, your budget and your specific needs. Now, that’s fair!

Learn more…

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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