CV screening & shortlisting

road map sign

Once you have advertised and promoted your vacancy, you should start to receive applications. The next step is to screen the CVs and shortlist the candidates you want to invite for interview.

Application activity should peak in the first two to three weeks of your ‘campaign’. Beyond that, interest will start to diminish, if not disappear. If you receive no CVs, then your opportunity is not attractive enough. This may be down to a number of factors – salary, location or the way you are ‘selling’ the role. Some of these things you can change and you should, if you are having no success.


How to screen a CV

The approach to screening CVs will very much depend on the level of response you attain. If your role is hard to fill and you have few applications, you will be trying to ‘screen in’ candidates – finding reasons to include them on your shortlist. If your vacancy is easier to fill and results in a large number of applications, you will be ‘screening out’ candidates, finding reasons to reject them.


What are the essential elements of the job specification that you need to see on the CV? These should always be in the realm of education, skills and experience. Other aspects of the CV may add detail and insight but will not provide the main selection criteria. Refer back to your specification and your definition of needs to ensure you are evaluating against the right elements.


A good CV should demonstrate how well someone has performed the tasks and activities that they are evidencing. You should give added weight to those candidates that are able to do this. Consider the following two statements taken from two CVs:

  • Organised events across Ireland
  • I organised six large scale events in separate locations around Ireland, over the period of 12 months. Budget spent was €75,000 and the most successful event attracted 2,500 people and resulted in 17 sales leads.


It is very clear which is the more substantial and more attractive, statement.


Whilst it would be preferable to wait and review all CVs that come in, in a market where skills are scarce, you will need to move quickly and immediately shortlist and contact anyone who fulfils most of your key criteria.


Remember – contact everyone who applies, regardless of how suitable they are for the role. When rejecting candidates, thank them for their interest in your business – you may well value them later as a customer, supplier or source of referrals.

The next step

The interview

Fast track your recruitment