What Makes Fair Hiring? Part 3: The Shortlisting and Interview Process

The shortlisting and interview process is key to the recruitment process. Find out how you can ensure the process remains fair and effective.

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Having followed parts 1: Establishing a Fair Hiring Policy and 2: Developing a Fair and Effective Job Ad of the What Makes Fair Hiring series, we now bring you to the next key step of the recruitment process – screening and shortlisting applicants fairly and efficiently for an interview.

Fair and Objective Shortlisting

A typical shortlisting process starts with an initial screening based on core or minimum requirements to perform the job role defined during the job analysis and reflected in the job ad.

Organisations may also incorporate pre-placement tests e.g. cognitive ability tests, job-related medical examinations, etc. as part of the shortlisting process especially where technical skills or special attributes are required.

Here are some points to note to ensure that the shortlisting process remains fair and objective.

  • Ensure that the shortlisting criteria are applied fairly and consistently across all candidates, at all times during the shortlisting process.
  • If non-core job requirements such as values or people skills or differentiating factors were used to further shortlist resumes, make effort to clarify and find out more from the potential candidate, if this cannot be gleaned from their resumes.

If tests are used for further selection or shortlisting purposes:

  • Ensure that tests are related to the job requirements and effective in ascertaining a good fit for the job and overall work environment.
  • Review the tests regularly for relevance and bias in content or scoring, e.g. unintentionally filtering out certain demographics such as females or older candidates.
  • Implement a structured and consistent scoring guide to rank and shortlist potential candidates.

Here are more good practices to adopt if pre-placement tests are used.

Conducting a Fair Interview

The interview is a key step in helping you determine if the candidate is the best fit for the job. An interview process that treats candidates fairly and with respect also provides an opportunity to establish your organisation as an inclusive employer of choice. What are some areas to look out for to ensure a fair interview?

  • Use competency-based interview questions
    Consider using competency-based questions that target a specific skill or competency required to perform the job. For example, questions on
    • Job experience, e.g., Share an example of a situation in your previous role where you solved a problem in a creative way.
    • Job skills, e.g., What are some of your core skills and how can it support the role you are applying for?
    • Leadership experience, e.g., Describe a project where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.
    • Teamwork, e.g., Describe how you have positively contributed to a team.

For more examples, refer to these sample interview questions as a guide in selecting the best candidate for the job and interview questions to create a positive candidate experience.

  • Ask questions with intent and purpose
    It is important that interviewers stay vigilant and exercise diligence and care when collecting information from the candidate. Each interview question should be asked with intent and purpose to achieve the objective of assessing a candidate’s suitability for the role.
  • Ensure fairness across all rounds of interviews
    In instances where multiple rounds of interviews are conducted, it is also important to establish the following:
    • Clear criteria for the requirement of multiple interviews, e.g. based on seniority of role, type of skills required, etc.
    • Clear shortlisting criteria and outcomes for each round of interview, e.g. to assess suitability for leadership roles, etc. This should be applied consistently across all candidates and communicated to all interviewers. 

Fair recruitment is characteristic of a progressive company. Implementing these measures to ensure that fairness at every point of the shortlisting and interview process not only identifies and pushes through the best possible candidates; but creates a positive candidate experience that is better able to attract top talent and build your company brand.

This article is part of a series to facilitate the review of your hiring practices to establish your organisation’s commitment towards fair hiring.