Shortlisting is the first step that a selection panel should take in a competitive selection assessment process.  The purpose of shortlisting is to exclude those applicants who on the basis of their written application. 

Sometimes shortlisting isn't required and the panel will choose to interview everyone. This is common for specialised or technical positions with small applicant pools. But usually, shortlisting is used to avoid unnecessary interviews and pick the best applicants to investigate further.

It's recommended that you shortlist in the following way, eliminating applicants based on the following criteria, in this order:

  1. Applicants that do not meet the mandatory Commonwealth Government employment requirements (for example, are not Australian citizens or hold a necessary visa that allows employment in Australia, applicants that have been given a redundancy package within the past 12 months etc.)

  2. Applicants that don't satisfy the requirements of the jobs as expressed by the selection criteria.  If an applicant doesn't specifically address the selection criteria they can be eliminated, or if they don't meet one or any of the selection criteria they can also be eliminated.

  3. Applicants that aren't competitive when compared with the other applicants. An applicant's competitiveness is determined by an assessment of their claims against the criteria in comparison with the other applicants.

All selection panel members must be involved in the shortlisting process, it can't be left to only a few panel members.  A shortlisting summary should also be completed for future reference. You should check your agency's recruitment manual as some agencies require Delegate approval of the final shortlist before interviews can be offered. 

It is possible to decide that no one will be shortlisted to interview if the applicant pool is not of a high quality.  The selection panel should remember that they are tasked with finding a highly suitable person for the position, not just the best person that has applied (the best person might not be good enough, and low quality applications should not be considered just because there is a vacancy to be filled).

Shortlisting summaries together with reasons for choosing or eliminating applicants should be attached to the final recruitment report.

Remember it's important to assess all of the information provided by the application. While you will be assessing the applicants based on the advertised selection criteria, you cannot only use their statements addressing the selection criteria to assess their suitability. Cover letters, resumes and any other supporting information that was submitted must be assessed.

Referee reports can also be conducted as part of the shortlisting process, if the circumstances call for it. In fact, the short time that it takes to conduct reference checks can save time in the long run if it allows to eliminate applicants from the interview pool.

Shortlisting templates are located here.

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