The issue of how many candidates should be shortlisted for final interview is often raised by hiring managers during the early stages of commissioning. Some clients have an expectation they’ll meet 4 or 5 candidates, while others are open to simply meeting a candidate that best meets the job profile and selection criteria.
Most recruiters will have a candidate management policy for their recruitment consultants to follow. These typically value the emotional investment of each candidate as they apply for a position, and commit the recruiter to treating each candidate with care and respect. Bringing a candidate to shortlist when they have no chance of securing the role, or if the client has already decided not to employ them is disrespectful. Most seasoned recruiters know it is a more generous act to advise them they have been unsuccessful and provide meaningful feedback so they understand why they have not progressed.
In retained searches particularly, the recruiter may be asked to develop and present to the hiring manager a preliminary candidate group (PCG). This PCG is a larger group which the Recruiter has qualified and screened based on factors of merit, best fit and selection criteria. Usually a meeting is held with the hiring manager, and along with the recruiter, they work through the PCG discussing each candidate in detail. The choice of the candidates for shortlist typically rests with the hiring manager.
This is an important characteristic of a retained recruitment model. The hiring manager tasks the recruiter to exclusively build a candidate group and the hiring manager then selects the best fit, merit candidates for shortlist interview. The flow-on is that the ultimate appointment is made by the hiring manager from the candidates they interview at shortlist.
It stands to reason the foundations of a good appointment rely on the success of these early stages of the recruitment process.
As a recruiter, if you undersell the job, don’t provide sufficient information about the role, don’t screen candidates against the selection criteria or you base your decisions on other factors outside of merit, you will be more likely to fail. The costs of a failed appointment are very high for recruiters, particularly in a retained search process.
A simple rule of thumb is the combination of a robust recruitment process, based on factors of merit, incorporating a structured interview protocol and solid background investigation. Reference checking and pre-employment testing will identify the most capable and suitable candidates. And the upside is you’ll have happy candidates and hiring managers.