Section 6 - Shortlisting Applicants

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Last updated: 15 July 2021
Version: 1

6.1 Shortlisting must be conducted by the person responsible for the appointment (see Section 1: Responsibilities) and at least one other person.

6.2 Applicants must be shortlisted for interview based on the evidence provided in their application form and usually only those who meet all the essential criteria as defined on the person specification must be shortlisted (even where there is only one applicant).

6.3 Application forms must be properly scrutinised and any gaps or queries (e.g. in employment/education/church/volunteering history etc) must be highlighted and marked for further exploration if the applicant is shortlisted and invited to interview.

Good practice advice


The purpose of shortlisting is to identify, from their application form, those individuals who best meet the selection criteria for the role and who you wish to take forward to the next stage of the recruitment and selection process, which is often an interview.

Even if there is only one applicant to be considered, his/her application still needs to be assessed to ensure he/she meets the essential selection criteria.


Candidates should be shortlisted by comparing the information provided on their application form against the person specification requirements. 

Shortlisting Panel

The person responsible for the role (see Section 1: Responsibilities) usually leads on the shortlisting process, with support from other members of the interview panel (minimum of two people).  This helps maintain consistency across this stage of the process.

For paid employment roles, it is good practice to record shortlisting decisions so that they can be evidenced and, if requested, verbal/written feedback provided to those not shortlisted. 

Incomplete application forms

If an application is not fully completed, or it is not clear how an applicant meets all of the essential criteria, the application would usually be rejected from the process at this stage.  There may be exceptional cases where it is decided to shortlist based on the information that is provided and then the issues/gaps etc. explored further during the interview.

Interview candidates should receive:

  • Confirmation of the interview
  • Details of the interview process; and who will be present
  • A further copy of the role description/person specification
  • Details of any tasks or further selection activities to be undertaken as part of the interview process
  • Details of any documentation they must provide e.g. proof of qualification(s), proof of identity in accordance with Right to Work in the UK requirements (employees).

This information can be provided via email, post or in person, depending on the nature of the role being interviewed for.