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How To Master Confidential Shortlisting With An ATS


Read our low-down on Confidential Shortlisting and our tips on how you can use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to master this.

Many establishments buy into a Confidential Shortlisting matrix to support their Fair Hiring or Diversity & Inclusion strategy. Whether you operate D&I within your candidate journey or you have specific  "Hiring Panels", this practice encourages a framework that delivers a truly "diversity-rich" workforce, eliminating any unconscious bias along the hiring process.

This article highlights some of the key issues even the biggest names in the recruitment business have with Confidential Shortlisting.

In addition, we’ll go on to explore how an elite Applicant Tracking System helps ensure Confidential Shortlisting actually works for you and not against you.

But firstly, let’s start off by defining Confidential Shortlisting.

What is Confidential Shortlisting?

Confidential Shortlisting helps prevent the unconscious biases we all have from coming into play during the recruitment process.

ACAS clearly defines what unconscious bias as “Unconscious bias occurs when people favour others who look like them and/or share their values. For example, a person may be drawn to someone with a similar educational background, from the same area, or who is the same colour or ethnicity as them.”

It can be detrimental to the hiring process because we don’t know what our unconscious biases are. They’re hidden in unconscious minds, not allowing us the opportunity to acknowledge them and address them.

So, Confidential Shortlisting is used to keep unconscious bias at bay and ensure the progression of the most suitable candidates is based on merit only. It’s achieved by redacting any personally identifiable information from candidate CVs and/or application forms. 

Here are some examples of data most businesses redact from applications, most ATS systems enable you to customise this to suit your recruitment process.

  • Address
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Educational History
  • Gender
  • Name
  • Race

It sounds like an ideal solution on the surface. But there’s an art to getting Confidential Shortlisting right.

How can an Applicant Tracking System help you implement and fine hone Confidential shortlisting processes?

Implementing and mastering Confidential Shortlisting isn’t easy. It requires serious consideration and planning before you get started. Once you have, you’ll probably need to look to the data to help with fine-tuning the process.

But, it’s a whole lot easier with an Applicant Tracking System to do most of the hard work for you.

Getting things templated and set up in the system is the biggest step. After that, you can generally rinse and repeat, with the exception of any job-specific changes you need to apply on a case-by-case basis.

A truly fit-for-purpose Applicant Tracking System supports your fair hiring efforts. In addition, it enhances and informs your Confidential Shortlisting processes by:

1. Streamlining Process & Control

  • Recruiters can stay in complete control of the information Hiring Managers or Panel Members are presented with for shortlisting candidates.
  • Once you’ve pre-determined what constitutes "non-justifiable" criteria, the relevant areas are redacted from candidate application forms and/or CVs - which can then be passed to your Hiring Managers/Panel Members.
  • Invite your Hiring Managers/Panel Members are then invited to enter the system at a time and place that suits them within your specified time scale. Once they’re there, they score candidates on the restricted role-specific candidate information they’re presented with.
  • Any potential for unconscious bias can be reduced even further by including notes boxes for panel members to use. You can request them to provide brief explanatory notes in the notes boxes about why they scored each candidate as they did.

2. Leverage Situation Judgement Tests (SJT's)

Silence any accusations that meritocratic Confidential Shortlisting misses candidates that have the best cultural fit. Introducing Screening Questions like SJT's is a great way to determine a candidate's work ethics through scenario-based questions. You can reject or move through to the next stage, based on their score and you also have the option of presenting these at the interview stage, which will produce completely confidential insights about their cultural fit and motivations to your Hiring Managers/Panels.

3. Saving time 

It’s laborious and long-winded to hand sift through application forms and/or CVs reacting information manually with a big black marker pen or perhaps colour blocking on word documents. However, an Applicant Tracking System will do the job for you, automatically. Plus, a best-of-breed ATS system will enable you to pre-set events with timeslots and Hiring Managers/Panel Members pre-invited that your candidates can simply choose their slot. All events can be synched with Office365 calendar and the confirmation email to your candidate can include Microsoft Teams Session (for example)

4. Reporting

What's the point of having a beautifully crafted D&I Strategy if you cannot report or monitor your progress to the Board? Therefore, analytics is critical, so this of your D&I/Confidential Shortlisting process. 


What makes Vacancy Filler different?

Vacancy Filler’s market-leading Applicant Tracking System has all the features you need to bring Confidential Shortlisting processes to life in support of your fair hiring goals. Our toolkit is pretty impressive and enables you to deliver a fair and unbiased hiring strategy throughout your entire recruitment process.

We’d love to do more than just tell you how game-changing it is for recruitment professionals. So, why not book a demonstration today, for one of our expert team members to walk you through the Applicant Tracking System and give you a glimpse at its multiple features and time-saving functions.


Unconscious Bias, ACAS -


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