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Human Resources


How to short-list

Assessors are required to carry out short-listing objectively and consistently by comparing each application against the selection criteria being assessed at this stage. Short-listing and notification of the results to applicants should, ideally, be completed within two weeks of the closing date of the vacancy.

A suggested process for short-listing is provided below:

  1. Each assessor reviews applications independently of the other assessors in the first instance. For each application, the assessor evaluates how effectively the facts and evidence provided meet the requirements of each selection criterion, using the relevant positive indicators as a guide.
  2. The assessor allocates each applicant with a provisional score for each selection criterion, using the scoring system which has been agreed in advance (see Agree scoring system and decision rules sub-section for further information). The scores for each applicant, along with reasons for the scores given, are recorded on an HR10 Assessment Record.
  3. The assessors meet to discuss each application and the provisional scores that they have each allocated. Where any differences in the scores arise, these are discussed and a decision reached on an agreed final score. The final scores for each applicant are recorded on an HR10 Assessment Record. Where assessors initially gave a different provisional score for a criterion, the reasons for the final agreed score are also recorded on this form.
  4. The final scores for all applicants are summarised on the HR11 Selection Results Grid to aid decision making. Decisions about which applicants are invited to proceed to the next stage of selection are based on the decision rules agreed in advance (see Agree scoring system and decision rules sub-section for further information). Any applicants who fail to meet all the essential criteria are rejected if they have not already been eliminated through a long-listing exercise. Desirable criteria are used only when there is a need to distinguish between candidates who appear equally suited to the vacancy.
  5. The decision made for each applicant (i.e. reject or invite to take part in the next stage of selection), along with the reason for the decision, is recorded on the HR11 Selection Results Grid.

Please note: if members of the Appointing Body are conducting short-listing as applications are submitted rather than reviewing all applications together, it is particularly important that benchmarking of scores is carried out before applicants are notified of any decisions. This means that Appointing Body members must review the scores that they have allocated to each applicant and the reasons why, then check that they have been consistent in the way that they have made their assessments/decisions.

If the HR Division's templates for recording short-listing scores, decisions and reasons are not used, it is important that some other documentation captures this information. Short-listing records should also show that the same agreed selection criteria have been applied to all candidates.

This will help ensure that you can justify your decisions, explain the process by which they were reached and respond to any claims of discrimination. In addition, if the person who is eventually offered the position requires a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), evidence of why he/she was the best candidate will be required, along with details of why applicants/candidates not subject to immigration control were not appointable (i.e. why they did not meet all the essential criteria).

If you are using Web Recruitment, you should ensure that the outcomes of each selection stage are recorded by changing the status/stage of applicants within the system. For example, after short-listing has been completed, you should record which applicants have been rejected and which will be invited to interview/selection events.

It is also possible to write notes and upload documents as a means of holding reasons for decisions in the same place as other information from the recruitment process. Please see the Web Recruitment User Guide for full details.

Factors to use and not to use in decision making

Short-listing decisions should be made solely on the basis of facts and evidence presented in applications which are relevant to the selection criteria. If you are not using Web Recruitment and have invited applications to be made using an electronic or hard copy of the CHRIS/5 Application for Employment form, any additional documentation which applicants may send to you (e.g. CVs, covering letters) should not be used in the short-listing process. This ensures that applicants are being treated fairly by having the same opportunity to be successful.

Generalised assumptions and stereotypes about applicants should be avoided. Applicants should not be rejected on the basis that they do/do not have a particular protected characteristic, are perceived to have a particular protected characteristic or are associated with someone who does. This could amount to direct discrimination, unless you are applying an occupational requirement, a positive action initiative or other exception to the law (see the Exceptions in Equality Law pages of the Equality law and recruitment section for further information).

You should also take care to avoid taking into account any factors which could have a disproportionate impact on people with a particular characteristic, unless this can be objectively justified. In addition, making decisions based on applicants' length of experience could result in indirect age discrimination. Care should be taken not to confuse chronological age with academic or career achievement.

Applicants must not be eliminated at short-list stage on the basis that they do not yet have the right to work in the UK as this could amount to indirect discrimination on the grounds of national origin. Eligibility to work in the UK can be considered during the final stage of recruitment only. In order to decide to reject a candidate purely on right to work grounds, it must be established that that individual does not have the right to work and that no certificate of sponsorship (CoS) will be available (e.g. because the skill level of the job is too low to support a CoS or it is a non-PhD level role and there is another candidate with the right to work who has met all of the essential criteria). Recruiters are advised to keep a record of any decisions taken and the reasons why, along with details of any investigations made into obtaining permission to work in the UK.