Shortlisted for An Interview: What Does It Mean?


shortlisted for an interview

Trying to find a new employment opportunity is like a ladder, and there are plenty of steps you’ll have to effectively climb before reaching the top. There are many processes and requirements that must be met before getting hired.

Recruiters and hiring managers have a system of organization to help the hiring process go smoothly. One of those is the use of a shortlist.

Within this article, we unpack what is means to be shortlisted for an interview, and what it means for you. 

Let’s dive in.

What Does It Mean to Be Shortlisted For An Interview?

thinking person

When you’re shortlisted for an interview, it means that you’re on the list of candidates that are qualified enough to interview. This means that you’ve met all the initial qualifications needed to advance to the interview stage. This is usually the result of meeting the job criteria via your application and/or initial contact.

When you’re on the shortlist after an interview, it means that you’re on the shortlist of final candidates for the position. To get on this shortlist, your interview would have had to have gone well.  This means that you’re among the very few that are being seriously considered for a job offer.

How Many Candidates Get Shortlisted for an Interview?

Every corporation has their own way of hiring new staff, however, the amount of candidates that get shortlisted for or after an interview depends on a variety of things such as:

The Number of Applicants

number of applicants

The number of candidates has a bearing on how many of these applicants will be placed on the shortlist either for an interview or for a job offer after the interview. Most corporations use software that allows them to screen applications for keywords that reflect qualities and skills needed for the position. These keywords are used to help determine if the candidate offers the required qualifications both professionally and personally.

The more applications, the harder recruiting managers work. This could sometimes affect the shortlisting process.

Criteria Used


The more specific the criteria is that determines shortlisted candidates, the shorter the list may be. This depends on the organization hiring and how narrow their window of deviation is for their job requirements and qualifications. For instance, if their qualifications and criteria are narrow, then fewer applicants will meet this, meaning that the list will be shorter. However, if a company is broader and is interested in a wide variety of skill levels and experience, the shortlist may be longer.

Interviewing Process

job interview

The interviewing process for a company also has bearing on the shortlisting process. Many companies have many interviews to their hiring process, which effects each shortlist. The initial list will always be longer, with the final shortlist being smaller. Many companies use pre-screening or pre-recorded video interviews to sift through candidates before making a shortlist of applicants. This helps keep the final shortlists smaller.

While each company is unique, the shortlist for an interview is generally 10 to 20 candidates, with there being potential for variance depending upon the facotrs listed above.

What is The Difference Between Shortlisted and Selected?

thinking person

Being shortlisted is somewhat different from being selected. When you’re shortlisted, this simply means that you’re on the ledger of candidates that are being considered for the next step, whether that be another interview, or a job offer.

When you’re selected, this means that you’re the candidate that is wanted, and so you’re being given the first chance to move forward, whether interview wise or with a job offer.

For instance, when you’re selected for a job offer, that means you’ll be offered a position, whereas if you’re shortlisted that means that others are still in the running with you.

Is It Good to Be Shortlisted?

thumbs up and down

Being put on the shortlist at any point during the hiring process is a very good thing. This means that you’ve met enough criteria to be seriously considered as an applicant. Being on the shortlist means that you’ve stood out enough, and that you’re more likely move forward to the next step. Most applicants never get put there, especially for large corporations that receive many applications.

How Do You Know If You’ve Been Shortlisted for an Interview?

work call

It can be tough to know whether or not you’ve been shortlisted for an interview. In many cases, you won’t know whether or not you’ve been shortlisted until a company reaches out to inform you that you’ve been selected for an interview.

However, in some cases, if it’s taking them a while to decide who they want to interview, and you’re a list of candidates that they want to keep engaged, the company may reach out to let you know that you’ve been shortlisted but it will be a little while before they start the interview process.

Alternatively, if you have a point of contact that’s involved in the hiring process, you could reach out to that person directly via phone to check in on the status.

How Long Does It Take for An Interview After Being Shortlisted?

specific timeline

Each company has their own process and time frame, and these waiting times may be longer or shorter depending on the company and how many people they have working on that task. However, most people usually are offered an interview within two weeks of sending in their application.

Of course, some positions don’t even begin to review applications until a month after opening a position for applications, or even longer, especially if the position doesn’t begin immediately. It’s important to remain patient during this process, as there’s no good way to find out any information regarding the shortlist or otherwise.


The hiring process is stressful for everyone involved. Recruiters and hiring managers are tasked with the enormous responsibility of finding the best fit for the position. Hiring the wrong candidate can cost a company up to $240,000 or more. That’s a huge risk! 

 While the company works to fill the position correctly, applicants worry and hope, tirelessly applying to positions. Finding yourself on the shortlist is a great thing and is the first step to getting a job offer.

However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up on the shortlist, and unfortunately, there’s no way to figure out if you’re on it either. While it’s a good idea to follow up on your applications, it’s also a good idea to give the hiring team time after that to make their choices. Don’t call the company daily ask for updates. Whatever will be, will be, remain focused and the right opportunity will follow.

About the author

ted wilson
Ted Wilson

Ted Wilson is a writer and marketing specialist with over thirteen years of experience. He has worked with clients of all types, including major brands like Bed Bath & Beyond. He has years of experience writing for career management and education websites and often tells clients seeking to advance their career that passion and consistency are key.

Recent Posts