What Does Being Shortlisted Mean?

These days companies can receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening.

With the job market feeling so competitive for many of these high profile roles - it can feel like a huge win when you get an email back mentioning that you have been shortlisted for a position. 

Understanding what exactly it means to be shortlisted can allow you to prepare for the next stage of your job interview, and increase your overall chances of being hired.

This article will explain what shortlisting means across different professions, the practicalities of the shortlisting process, how to improve your chances of getting shortlisted, and what to do after being put on a company’s shortlist.

Shortlisted for a Job


Questions Answered:

  • What does being shortlisted for a job mean?

  • How does this process work?

  • How to get shortlisted

  • How to land the job after being shortlisted


What Does Being Shortlisted for a Job Mean? 

If you have been shortlisted for a job, it means that you have been put on a list of final candidates for a position that they have available to fill.

The company will then make its final decision or request additional interviews based on this list. 

A company creates a shortlist of candidates for reasons of efficiency - there is no point interviewing every candidate if they can narrow them down by identifying the most qualified and relevant for the position.

The shortlist selection process is done on grounds of candidates’ resumes, cover letters, application tests or initial interviews. 

All in all - if a company has shortlisted you for a position, it’s a positive first sign that they have been impressed with your application so far.

Average Time Recruiters Spend Interviewing One Candidate

Source Yello

How Does the Shortlisting Process Work? 

You probably know that the ‘job description’ a company has published about an opening is a very important thing to review before you send a job application off. 

It is the company's way of telling you the primary duties associated with the role, along with the company’s expectations for qualifications and skills, highlighting the characteristics that they think you will need to thrive within their organization.

Once a company has published an open position and begins to generate applications, they will select and reject job seekers based on how closely their resume matches their list of firm requirements and ‘nice to have’ qualifications.

The hiring manager will then rank all the candidates, shortlisting any that meet the job’s specifications.



How Many of the Initial Candidates Are Put on the Shortlist? 

There are a few factors that affect the length of a candidate shortlist, which include: 

  • The number of applications that were received

    • The length of a shortlist can vary, primarily based on how many applications a company received. Often, if a company has received many applications, they will use software (ATS) that goes through the applicants and automatically screens them by looking for keywords and phrases. 

  • The criteria used to determine the shortlist

    • If the criteria for someone to get on the shortlist is more specific and niche, the shorter the list will be. This is because fewer candidates will be able to meet the narrow window of requirements for the job. In contrast, if a company is more open to various levels of skill, backgrounds and experience, their list will be longer. 

  • The interview and application process

    • If a company has more time and resources to meet with applicants, and HR, to complete things like prescreening, reference checks and first interviews, the list will become shorter, and the selection process will be more specific. 


“Since the beginning of the pandemic, 86% of recruiters have been conducting virtual interviews.” - Gartner


How to Get Shortlisted for a Job

When you are initially applying for a position, your first objective is to be put on the shortlist for an interview request. There are a few things that you can do to increase the likelihood that this will happen.

  • Use Keywords

    • Using keywords from the job posting and description can help to get through the automated screening process, as it lets you tell the software, through your resume and cover letter, that you fulfill all of the position requirements.

    • We recommend that you use the exact keywords and phrases from the job posting. In addition, ensure that if you do highlight proficiencies for the job's requirements, you can demonstrate that in an interview. 

  • Customize Your Resume

    • Customizing your resume to the company and job you are applying for will also give you an advantage when it comes to being shortlisted. Highlighting your skills that match up with the company’s job posting can impress the hiring manager and will show that you have the experience to back up all of your claims.

    • You can also alter your work history - for every role that is on your resume, provide examples of your achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for. 

  • Cover Letter Writing

    • Although not generally the most fun thing to do, writing a powerful cover letter can improve your chances of getting on the shortlist.

    • Use the letter as a chance to express your personality, whilst still providing additional details about your proficiencies that you couldn’t fit into your resume. 

I’ve Been Shortlisted - What Happens Now? 

If you have been shortlisted for a job, it does not mean that you have been selected for the position, but rather that the company likes your application so far, and is interested in speaking to you further about your skills, proficiencies, and experience.

After you have been shortlisted, there are still stages to go through before an offer is made, such as interviews, skills assessments and other testing requirements.

There are a few ways for you to increase your likelihood of being offered the job after you have been put on the shortlist. These include: 

  • Make yourself available for the hiring manager/recruiter.

    • Ensure that you are easy to reach by email, text, or phone call and respond promptly. This will show your dedication and ease to work with. 

  • Be proactive when it comes to the job.

    • You can express your thanks and enthusiasm for being shortlisted and then ask a well researched and articulated question about the open position or company at large. 

  • Stay positive and patient when it comes to waiting for the company.

    • Oftentimes they have hundreds of applications to go through and might not get to setting an interview date for several days to several weeks. Be understanding of their busy schedule, and remain polite in all of your interactions, whilst still expressing your enthusiasm. 


Wrapping Up | What does short listed mean

Being shortlisted is the first step towards the hiring manager making a decision - and this shows that, on paper, the company thinks that you would be a good fit for the role.

After being put on a shortlist, it is your goal to convince the company that you are also a good fit for the role outside the limits of your resume and cover letter. 

If you need additional support around the interviewing process, check out our list of resources here.

To get shortlisted for a role, you should ensure that you fill all the requirements. Highlight your proficiencies and qualifications which line up with the job criteria. 

To get hired from the shortlist, you should make yourself available and show your enthusiasm. Remain patient with the hiring process - it can feel like a long wait, especially if you are waiting for an interview or to find out if you have been hired.

We hope this helps. Best of luck if you have recently been shortlisted!


Title: What does being short listed mean?

Category: Interview

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Co-Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile