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Recruiting: Shortlisting & selection


There are a number of ways to inform your selection decisions, which can be combined to demonstrate different facets of the person specification. These might include, for example:

  • Interviews – the tried and tested approach to finding someone who is motivated, competent and a good fit for your team and organisation. See below for more interview information
  • Role-play – so that they can demonstrate how they interact with colleagues and stakeholders, e.g. a 'telephone call' or 'meeting' set-up
  • Online or in-person tests – e.g. a relevant task that would be part of the role/project, or writing an article, blog or other piece of written work
  • Group activities – so that you can see how someone behaves as part of a team dynamic
  • Presentations – can they present a convincing argument? Can they describe complex things in a simple and engaging way? Can they take technical information or data and talk about it in an engaging way?
  • Portfolios – some roles may benefit from the applicant bringing examples of previous work

Remember to decide how you are going to assess their ability to meet the person specification, via this task – there needs to be a clear link so that they understand what you are looking for.


Interviews should ideally be undertaken by two or more people, in order to be a fair, objective assessment of whether the candidate meets the person specification and could effectively carry out the role. Interviews are about the candidate getting to know more about the role, see if they would be interested in accepting and assess whether the organisation is the right for them, so consider it a two-way process and offer further information where possible:

  • Introductions, explain the process and a brief overview of the role to set the scene and put them at ease
  • Clarify what is on offer, address any expectations and explore any gaps on their CV
  • Try to take a coaching and supportive (rather than testing) approach
  • Take into account limited work experience, and give opportunity to draw on education, extra-curricular and personal experiences as a valid source of relevant skills and attributes
  • Ask questions that highlight potential and commitment, rather than prior experience only.
  • Provide the opportunity for the candidate to ask questions
  • Can take place by online, telephone or in person. When interviewing online and by telephone consider; the facilitation of the process to support a personalised experience, ensure the technology does not detract from assessing the ability of the candidate, reassure candidates who may be more uncomfortable with this approach and how the look and feel of your office environment and culture can be shared.
  • Advise when likely to be contacted about the outcome of the process

Typical questions might include:

  • Why is the candidate interested in the industry, organisation and role?
  • Questions about suitability for the role
  • Technical questions relating to the role
  • Questions about previous relevant experiences (noting points above)
  • Hypothetical questions
  • Ask for examples of employability skills, e.g. communication, team working, problem solving, etc
  • Motivational questions that allow the candidate to demonstrate their personality
  • Competency-based questions to draw out examples of when the candidate has used specific skills
  • Questions that facilitate a discussion about their strengths (what they are good at and enjoy doing - to understand how the role can be shaped and what they can bring to the role and organisation)
  • Questions that give everyone a chance to see how well the applicant understands the sector or market

Shortlisting should:

  • Be carried out objectively by two people, who only compare notes after they have assessed all the candidates
  • Address whether the candidate meets the Person Specification, point by point
  • Result in clear reasons as to why unsuccessful candidates were not short listed
  • Result in communication (no matter how brief) to both successful and unsuccessful candidates
  • Be carried out in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Equality Act 2010


Feedback on applications and interviews helps candidates to learn from the experience, understand what is expected, improve and maintains your reputation for good recruitment practice and provide a positive experience. Below are example forms, allowing for brief or detailed feedback according to your needs and limitations.