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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Shortlisting + interviewing

What you need to know

Shortlisting and interviewingWhere possible, the shortlisting panel and interviewing panel for every recruitment exercise should be comprised of the same individuals.

Every selection panel should be comprised of at least two persons and, as far as is practical, they should be persons of different sex and community background. Only persons who have received appropriate equal opportunities training should be called to serve as selection panel members.

How should I shortlist candidates?


  • Shortlisting criteria should be based on the essential and desirable criteria as described in the job description and the personnel specification
  • The selection panel should apply the shortlisting criteria fairly and consistently to all applicants, except for occasions when reasonable adjustments are being made for disabled applicants
  • The panel should be able to demonstrate how their decision is objectively based on the evidence before them, and not, for example, on stereotypical or discriminatory assumptions
  • The panel should seek clarification from an appropriate authority where they have queries about the equivalences of academic or other qualifications, e.g. qualifications gained overseas.
  • The panel should never consider applications which were submitted for one particular job for the purpose of filling a different job.
  • You should establish a standardised system for recording shortlisting decisions, which the panel should use

How should I make reasonable adjustments for disabled applicants?

Always remember that you may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for job applicants who have disabilities. This can mean changing how you normally do certain things in order to accommodate the needs of a disabled job applicant. The purpose is to remove disadvantages faced by disabled person that non-disabled persons do not typically face. This includes making changes to your job selection criteria, your interview arrangements, the physical features of your premises and so on. This duty is a legal requirement - see Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Give yourself sufficient time to plan and implement any reasonable adjustments that are needed. Where practical, consult with any disabled applicants who have indicated that they may need adjustments. The purpose of this is to obtain information to assist you to make appropriate adjustments at the appropriate time - refer to chapter 5 of the Disability Code of Practice - Employment and Occupation (pdf)

If you cannot consult with the disabled applicants, you should take account of any information that they have already provided and attempt to anticipate or assess whether any adjustments may be needed. You should make those adjustments, if it is reasonable to do so.

The kinds of reasonable adjustments that may need to be made will depend on the particular facts of each case, including the effects of the disabled person’s disability and the particular disadvantages that need to be overcome, but examples might include:


  • Allowing the applicant additional time to deliver a presentation or to answer questions
  • Conducting the interview in a different way, such as over a telephone or video link, or with the aid of a sign language interpreter
  • Postponing the interview where it is discovered on the designated day that the adjustments made at that time are inadequate, and inviting the applicant to attend again on another day when more appropriate reasonable adjustments can be made.


You should also note that it may be necessary to make two or more different reasonable adjustments in order to adequately overcome the particular disadvantages in question.

Add a section to your application forms that invites disabled applicants to notify you about any special arrangements that they may require as part of the recruitment process. For example, an applicant might suggest certain arrangements that will help them to attend a job interview. Such a question is also likely to help you to implement any positive action programmes for disabled persons that you are taking, such as a ‘guaranteed interview scheme’.

Recruiting People With Disabilities

We have produced new guidance on recruiting people with disabilities. This includes useful information about the reasonable adjustment duty, good practice and taking positive action. Read our guidance


What is the recommended interview process?

Interviews must be conducted in a structured and systematic way. Prior to commencing the interview stage the selection panel are advised to set:

  • Selection criteria, and relative weightings, that are objectively justifiable and which directly and clearly correspond to the criteria described in the job description and the personnel specification
  • Suitable interview questions that directly and clearly correspond to the selection criteria
  • A standardised system of scoring for use throughout the process


All interviews must be conducted in a fair and consistent manner and, in particular, the panel should:

  • Give all applicants the same opportunity to demonstrate their abilities
  • Not apply different standards to different applicants, subject to occasions when reasonable adjustments are being made for disabled applicants
  • Assess each applicant in accordance with the selection criteria
  • Record the scores and assessments

The panel must be able to demonstrate how their scores and assessments are objectively based on the evidence before them.

Reserve Lists
Reserve lists of successful applicants should normally be kept open for no longer than 12 months, unless there are very good practical or business reasons for extending the period.

Retain the all interview and shortlist documentation for at least 12 months.

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