Maxwell Stephens

How to Shortlist Candidates in Facilities Management

Your facilities management vacancy has been advertised and the applications have flooded in – but what’s the quickest and fairest way of shortlisting the best candidates to interview?

If time were no problem you could interview every promising candidate that applied for your vacancy. However, in the facilities management sector, few managers have time to spare and the most suitable candidates for a role need to be identified swiftly, effectively and fairly.


Eliminating unsuitable candidates


Those who opt to manage their recruitment process entirely in-house need to be especially vigilant about how they use their time. Without a specialist recruitment agency to sort the wheat from the chaff, an effective screening process is crucial to quickly rule out candidates without the necessary skills and experience. Of course, even with such a system in place, companies should expect the task of reviewing bulk applications to draw heavily on the company’s time and resources.


Companies that utilise a specialist a recruitment agency, on the other hand, can expect all the applications forwarded to them to meet their specified criteria. With the FM sector requiring highly skilled and experienced candidates, there is no underestimating the importance of employing an agency that has a wealth of knowledge in this specific industry to take pressure off the company whilst delivering outstanding results.


Identifying the strongest candidates


Ideally, the line manager who will be responsible for the role on a daily basis will have been involved in creating or updating the job description and person specification for the job. It is also a good idea for this person to take the lead in selecting the candidates to interview, working alongside a colleague to avoid partiality.


It is of paramount importance that throughout the process, the person(s) responsible for recruiting candidates are knowledgeable on the rules and regulations of the task. This should include maintaining strict confidentiality on each candidate and making sure that no decisions breach the discrimination act.


Score against your person specification


A scoring system is a fair and effective way of identifying which candidates most closely meet the person specification.  A very simple structure could offer up to 10 points for demonstration of the essential qualities within the specification and up to 5 points for the desirable qualities.


Award maximum points to candidates who meet the selection criteria fully and provide clear evidence to support this. Award fewer or no points to candidates who claim to possess the necessary competencies, such as problem-solving or budget-management skills, without clearly explaining how they gained the skill or use it in their current role or another relevant situation.


Use a spreadsheet to calculate your candidates’ scores and rank them so that you can easily visualise which candidates most closely meet your person specification.


How many should you interview?


The number of people you choose to invite for interviews will depend upon the role being recruited. There will naturally be a greater number of suitable applicants for entry and mid-level roles than there will be for senior or hard-to-recruit roles, and you may need to interview more applicants for entry level positions to ensure you get the best personality fit.


Nonetheless, it is usually best to schedule no more than five one-to-one interviews for one day. If there are more than five candidates suitable for the job, invite your most promising five for the first round of interviews. You can then review these candidates’ performances and decide if you need to meet further candidates.


Review your top ranking candidates


Should your scoring system not clearly separate your candidates, you will need to review your applications again. Consider which candidates most closely meet your criteria while adding value in other areas.


Although you should adhere closely to your person specification when deciding who to shortlist, a degree of flexibility may be necessary. It is unlikely that a candidate will meet your person specification exactly so being able to recognise additional valuable attributes will help you decide between candidates.


If you are going to base decisions on any criteria other than that in your person specification, however, it is a good idea to do so on the agreement of two or more colleagues to avoid unintentional bias.


If you are recruiting for a permanent role, you may also prioritise candidates with a track history of committing to roles for significant lengths of time. On the other hand, if a role is short-term, a candidate with a record of moving on from positions after shorter periods of time may be ideally suited to the role.


If you are still left with a long list of potential candidates, telephone interviews can help you decide who to invite for face-to-face interviews. A 20-minute telephone interview can help you decide if a candidate has the required attributes, as well as the necessary professionalism and enthusiasm, to progress to the next stage.

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Maxwell Stephens provide clients with a facilities recruitment UK service that will guide you through the complete process. We are always on hand to support and advise you, should you encounter a problem and endeavour to do whatever we can to rectify any concern or query that you may have.

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