How to successfully shortlist CV’s

From my previous article I mentioned that including an assessment along with an application will allow for easier shortlisting. Great examples are for applicants to use a unique pre-set subject line when sending their CV or answering a very specific question when sending in a CV. If this is a very low level position then this task will probably not be followed well but the applicants that do will be all the more special. Depending on how picky you are, the choice is yours in immediately disregarding those that did not pay enough attention to follow instructions.

The below are some of the more important features of a CV to pay attention to:
• Age
• Location
• Education
• Experience
• Time spent at each company
• The layout of the CV itself
Does the candidate meet all your criteria?

From my experience the following normally isn’t a good indicator of a successful applicant:
• Job hopping
• Big gaps between each employment on their CV
• Retrenched more than 4 times
• Dismissed
• Lots of contract work

There are always the exceptions and I advise calling the candidate before dismissing them from the shortlist to find out their side of the story.
I will normally then email a specific questionnaire to shortlisted applicants. These will be open ended questions aimed at showing their personality and thought process. I will judge the applicants on their speed and quality of response. You will be surprised as to how few respond, thus they eliminate themselves.
I will then call those shortlisted and ask them relevant questions. Those that can think on their feet and are sound, I will invite for an interview.
Learn to trust your gut and if you are unsure of a candidate or are having trouble with finding the right applicants, make sure that your salary is market related. Remember the lower your salary, the lower your expectations should be.
Or you can trust a professional with this process, call us on 031 265 2000 or email me at

Written By: Nicky Henderson