How long Does Shortlisting take?

3 years ago

The process of shortlisting, as enjoyable as it is (and we know you've heard that before!), can sometimes take a while & it really depends on the “shortlisted” position/s. 

One thing that affects how long this process takes is whether or not there are enough candidates at the outset.

In a clear example of when this process isn’t as quick, let’s consider the scenario where we have a role that we really want to fill with someone who fits in well with our culture and is truly exceptional at what they do. 

In this situation, if we are shortlisting 8-10 candidates out of 100 applicants (great response rate!) then it might take us a while to narrow it down to the top 3 candidates.

Now, this isn’t to say that those candidates are all equally exceptional, but we do have a pretty shortlist - for us!

If we were shortlisting maybe 2 out of 100 applicants (low response rate), then it might take a month to narrow down the list from the top 10 candidates to the top 3. 

For roles that have stricter requirements than this, this process can take a little bit longer.

As a result, the whole experience can be a little bit more tedious - We know We normally walk away feeling that everything was for nothing & that I didn’t make contact with those genuinely exceptional candidates – so it’s important to get this process right from the outset. 

Longer-term, this can also have an effect on your hiring manager’s perception of you. The chances are they will feel like you either take too much time or don’t spend enough time to get it right.

How Long Does It Take To Hear Back From An Employer

This step is very stressful, which will swing the probabilities dictated by our hopes and fears. This stage is experienced by all candidates, it does not depend on confidence or skills.

On average, employers take between 2 to 3 weeks to respond. Beyond this period, it must be understood that the candidate was not selected.

The time depends on the number of candidates for the same position or for other positions because sometimes companies organize at the same time a recruitment campaign for several profiles, which will require time to review the CVs, make interview reports and consult between different parties responsible for this recruitment.

The answer is slow because, despite the need for you to present a perfect profile, the recruiter has detected during the interview that you do not intend to bring a plus in his establishment, it can be caused by an attitude, an intonation, or a word dropped by you.

Beyond 3 weeks, the candidate must understand that his application was not selected and due to lack of time or human resources, the company could not respond even with a negative answer.

Shortlist Email

This email needs to be very personal, eg it may include a brief introduction about yourself followed by a more comprehensive assessment of your suitability for the role.

The core part of this email is the second paragraph that says: “We have decided to shortlist 5 people for further scrutiny”

This can be followed up with an internal briefing on the candidates on your shortlist.

The advantage of this email is that it just confirms that you have shortlisted a candidate, which is generally good news. 

It does mean that you don’t have to do all the work of writing a rejection letter if you are not actually going to follow up with the candidate.

The disadvantage is that it implies that the applicant may still be in with a chance for this role, even though they are only on your longlist.

Shortlist Email Example


Hi (candidate),

I wanted to write to you personally to let you know that our team has settled on the 5 applicants who we will be shortlisted for the (position) role. We have shortlisted the following candidates:

If you would like to discuss this further, please give me a call on 555-555-1234 as soon as possible.

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