Evaluating applicants

The applications for your latest job role have all come in; so find out how to start reviewing them here

If you work with a recruitment agency, your consultant will have already done most of the leg work in evaluating applicants for you. The applicants they put forward will have already been short-listed from a huge number of potential candidates or headhunted specifically for the role. 

If you've recruited before you will know the time involved in short-listing your pile of CVs from potentially hundreds down to the top 5. If this is the case, it's much easier to have a method to help with the process of reviewing applicants.

Three Steps to Evaluating Applicants:

Do they fit the brief?

Cross-examine the candidate's CV and covering letter, if there is one, with the job specification you wrote. Of course, you can only do this well if you've written a good job spec. Does the candidate clearly show how they fulfil all of your essential requirements, and any of your preferred skills and attributes?

If you feel there are certain skills missing off a candidate's CV think about whether they're likely to not have them, or just missed them off. There are some things you can resolve in an interview, or you may wish to give the candidate, or your recruitment consultant, a quick call to clarify. 

What else does the CV tell you - or omit to tell you?

Effort, Language, Style and Tone

Is the CV well presented and clear? This would imply the candidate takes pride in their work. Have they taken the time to tailor their CV to illustrate why they are particularly suited for the role? If so, you've probably got a more organised and attentive candidate, and one who is keen to demonstrate their aptitude for this role in particular. What tone does the language strike? Does it match the tone of your job spec? Does their style suit your company ethos, or make the candidate stand out for you? If it does, they've clearly done their homework and should have a respect for how your company presents itself.

Gaps in work experience

Are they explained or ignored? If the former, has the candidate articulated how these gaps have benefitted them in terms of providing or enhancing personal skills that are valuable to the advertised role? How important is this to you?

If there are gaps in their CV there may well be a valid reason for this (perhaps they didn't realise that time spent volunteering abroad would actually be of interest to you?). Our recruitment consultants will know their candidates' histories and can help you with any concerns you have.

Time spent in previous roles

How much time has the candidate spent with each previous employer? Does the candidate appear 'flighty', or do they appear loyal, hard-working and persistent? Does their job history indicate a natural progression and drive? Are they on their way up the ladder, or just moving sideways?

Bear in mind that in some industries frequent changes of employer are more common. 

Has the candidate moved industry more than once? Is breadth of experience something your company values or do you consider it a hindrance to success?


Do you have any special screening considerations for your role? Are there any concerns you have in assessing these? We have a specialist screening team who can help you through this process.

Set priorities

Prioritising criteria is essential to finding the right candidates. It's something our consultants have to be adept at when searching our database of 2.5m candidates. It's also something that necessitates taking time when writing and understanding your job spec. It is likely that you will encounter a vast range of experiences and skills across your short-listed candidates, all of whom could perform well in the role. To take these differences into account, hard as it is, it is important to establish priorities.

Think about which qualities, skills or experiences your company values most, or are most desirable for effectively fulfilling the advertised role and 'fitting in'. You may find it useful to set up a scale that reflects the relative importance of any particular skill, attribute or experience. A quick tally will then make short-listing more efficient.

If you would like any advice on the evaluation process please contact your local REED office who would be happy to help.

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