8 Step Guide to Shortlisting Developers for an Interview

how to interview candidates

Employees are the most valuable asset of an organization as they bring skills and experience to run the company. From manufacturing products to making key decisions, employees perform the most critical tasks at every stage of the business operation. When it comes to software development companies, the role of the employees becomes even more crucial because they utilize their knowledge to build the products or services that add value to the end-users.

Hiring the right engineers is critical for the success of software development companies and shortlisting developers is the first step towards that. Many companies fail to recruit talented developers, which adversely impacts their business. Shortlisting candidates is essential to hire the best developers, but it's not easy. However, if you follow the right strategies, you can recruit talented developers that add value and contribute towards scaling your business. This article enumerates how to shortlist and hire the best global talent for your software development projects.

What is shortlisting?

Shortlisting is a part of the interview process where recruiters identify candidates who meet the selection criteria for the job. Shortlisted candidates are the ones employers want to move forward with during the recruitment process. It's a crucial part of the recruitment process that significantly reduces the number of applicants and saves time in the next rounds.

Why is shortlisting developers essential before interviewing?

Interviewing too many candidates in a short time is an uphill task, and it delays the recruitment process. It can be overwhelming to assess hundreds of developers in a short time and find the perfect one for your business. That's why narrowing down the top talent from a pool of applicants is indispensable.

Shortlisting also helps you identify candidates with the right skill for the job. You must ensure they have the soft skills and the right mindset to fit in your organization. The final list of candidates for interview determines how effective your shortlisting process is and if you are following the right strategies. In a nutshell, shortlisting developers is essential to speed up the hiring process and make it hassle-free.

Now that you know why you should shortlist applicants let's look at the steps involved in developer shortlisting.

How to start the shortlisting process?

Having a shortlist of candidates for an interview is great, but it takes a lot of effort. When it comes to software developers, you have to assess the candidates with different criteria. Here is a step-by-step process for shortlisting to ensure you have the best candidates for the final evaluation process.

Determine the criteria

It is the first step toward shortlisting developers for an interview. Before posting a job advertisement, you must identify the essential and desirable qualifications. These qualifications make the criteria for narrowing down the candidate list.

The essential qualifications are non-negotiable, and you can't consider candidates without those. In contrast, desirable qualifications help candidates get an upper hand over others but do not disqualify candidates if they don't have that.

How to list down the must-have and nice-to-have qualifications? It is not easy for hiring managers without experience in recruiting developers. The best way to determine that is to ask the candidates working in similar positions which skills they find the most important to their job, or you can take professional help from top talent-sourcing platforms.

For example, Turing is an AI-powered developer vetting company that helps businesses shortlist candidates for the final interview. The vetting process involves matching the technical and soft skills to determine which applicants will be a perfect fit for your job.

Determine how many candidates you want to shortlist

Once you determine the criteria for a shortlist, the next step is to determine the maximum number of candidates who can make it to your shortlist. However, creating a list becomes pointless if you pick up too many candidates for the final selection process.

You can set up a fixed number, like 10 or 15 for one position or a percentage of job seekers who will make it to the shortlist. There is no hard and fast rule for selecting a fixed number of candidates. You are the best person to determine the number.

Usually, you will receive about 250 resumes for every job opening, which can take a significant time for shortlisting. Industry stats suggest that about 80% of candidates don't meet the qualifying criteria, and you have to screen them out. That's why shortlisting is the most time-consuming part of recruitment.

However, sometimes you will see more developers making it to the next round, and sometimes it can be less. Don't bother if you find more or less qualified candidates; the point is you must stick to your shortlisting criteria with no compromises.

Posting job advertisements on relevant platforms

Your job ad plays a crucial role in shortlisting developers. Writing the proper job description helps you attract the most suitable candidates for the position, which makes shortlisting much easier.

How to structure your job description to attract the attention of talented developers? Start with a catchy job title and include points like job responsibilities, qualifications, experience, type of employment (full-time, part-time, or contractual), location, salary, and other perks.

Don't forget to add a few lines about your company's history, mission, and vision. Simply put, a job description should encapsulate all relevant information about the job. Besides that, posting job ads on the right platforms is also crucial.

Top developers are active on platforms like GitHub and LinkedIn. Do a little research to find which platforms are more relevant to your requirements. Ensure you choose the best job portals to find the top developers.

Screen resumes for shortlisting

Once you publish the job advertisement, you will receive hundreds of applications. The next step is screening resumes to shortlist the right candidates. Going through a large number of resumes requires you to invest a lot of time, but you can't avoid it.

Most hiring managers screen resumes manually, which is not only time-consuming but there are chances of errors as well. It is a monotonous job, so you may lose concentration. However, taking advantage of technologies will help you reduce time and bring more accuracy in screening resumes.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a boon to recruiters that has revolutionized the screening process, and many organizations are using it to make the hiring process faster and more efficient. A Career Builder report suggests that 78% of hiring managers leverage the help of ATS to find the right talent. The advantages of ATS software are:

  • Search for candidates in your database using keywords in the resume
  • Using automation in screening resumes through qualifying questions
  • Match keywords to rank candidates
  • Organizing the applications received

Even though ATS has significantly changed the shortlisting process, it has some shortcomings. Let’s look at them.

  • Removes even the great resumes that the system can't read.
  • Screening out resumes that don’t meet the keyword filters but the candidates could have been a good fit for the role.

Assess candidates' technical skill

Shortlisting developers isn't possible without evaluating their technical skills. Most developers mention all the languages and frameworks they know in their resumes. However, you can't assess their knowledge level just by looking at their resumes.

You should test the applicant's programming language skills based on your requirements. A coding test can help you determine which candidates have the practical skills to help you execute your development project effectively.

Design a coding test for the programming languages and frameworks necessary for your software development projects. Taking help from a senior developer is the best way to frame the coding test. Make sure to evaluate the code quality and time management skills through the assessment. You can also use coding test platforms for assessing the technical skills of developers.

Conduct a screening interview round

The technical assessment helps you filter out the candidates who don't have the right skills, and you get a list of developers with the necessary skill set. However, is it enough to just shortlist candidates for a software developer's job? It's not! You need more information about the candidate's experience, previous projects, communication skills, and other soft skills before selecting them. You can do a telephonic screening round followed by a video interview.

A telephonic round lets you know about the candidate's experience and the projects they did and helps you shortlist them for the final round. The video interview round is more comprehensive and enables you to evaluate the candidate's body language, interpersonal skills, and soft skills to determine if the applicant is the right fit for the role.

Allocate scores in every round

Even though you screen candidates at each round and shortlist them throughout the final interview round, multiple candidates may qualify for one position. Suppose you want to hire five candidates, but you find ten applicants meeting all the criteria after the final round. How will you choose five out of them? Use a scoring system to rank the candidates.

As you conduct various rounds, allocate points for mandatory (M), essential (E), and preferred (P) skills. For example, the candidates get 3 points for every mandatory skill, 2 points for every essential skill, and 1 point for every preferred skill.

Developers scoring the maximum are the most deserving candidates. Such a scoring system is suitable when multiple candidates qualify for the same position.

Give feedback if you don't want to move forward with a candidate

To maintain transparency and a good reputation, you should let the candidates know who don't meet your requirements, especially if you have conducted a telephonic round or asked them to complete an assignment. Sending an email is a great way to inform the candidates. You can also make a phone call if the number of candidates is small.

Moreover, providing candidates feedback on why you are not moving forward with them will improve the interview experience with your company and encourage them to apply in the future. They can also work on their skills and improve gradually.

Candidate scorecard for software developers


A high-skilled developer is rare and in high demand. Don't expect to post a job advertisement and find the most talented developers seamlessly. You need to follow a structured method to shortlist the right candidates. This guide discusses the steps involved in shortlisting developers. The process may sound like an uphill task, but you have to do that to make better hires.

However, you can associate with Turing to find highly experienced and vetted developers ready for the final round of interviews. We use artificial intelligence for vetting and shortlisting global talents. Join the league of top U.S. startups and multiple Fortune 500 companies to hire the best remote developers with a risk-free 14 days trial period.


  • Author

    Subhasish Dutta

    Subhasish is a science graduate but a passionate writer and wordsmith who writes website content, blogs, articles, and social media content on technologies, equity market, traveling, and other domains. He has worked with Affnosys and FTI Technologies as a content writer.

Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of shortlisting is to find candidates who have the necessary qualification for the position. It is an essential step in the candidate selection process, and every hiring manager has to do it to ensure they have the best candidates for the final interview.

Shortlisted means the candidate has been selected for the next interview round; however it does not mean the organization has offered them the job. On the other hand, being selected means the candidate has cleared the interview process and has been offered the job.

The interview evaluation parameters can vary between companies and positions. However, most recruiters consider a few criteria to evaluate candidates.

  • Educational qualification
  • Relevant work experience
  • Specific skills for the job
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving ability
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team environment
  • Leadership qualities
  • Body language
  • Good fit to the company culture

Shortlisting involves choosing candidates based on the selection criteria and calling them for the next round of interviews. You also need to determine the maximum number of candidates you want to select for the next round.

The time for shortlisting developers varies depending on the business requirements. The process can take a few days to a few weeks, or sometimes a few months.

Shortlisting is a crucial step in the recruitment process where hiring managers find candidates from the large candidate pool who best meet selection criteria. It involves checking the following things.

  • Education and qualifications
  • Previous work experience
  • Technical skills and knowledge

Screening and shortlisting applicants for developer jobs involve looking at the resumes and identifying the candidates who best meet the technical skills and relevant experience for the role. You can use applicant tracking system (ATS) software to reduce screening time for shortlisting candidates.

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