How to Secure More Interviews per Job

When I run a workshop on job control, we look at the process of presenting a shortlist. It seems it is becoming more and more acceptable to email CVs to a client and await their response.

I know a lot of recruiters reading this know that phoning the client to present the shortlist (or even meeting to discuss a longlist to then agree a shortlist) is good practice. In fact, I have even worked with consultants who in the workshop claim they present a shortlist over the phone before submission the majority of the time. Once we get into the live aspect of the workshop – the “show me” and coaching aspect I sometimes see a real life result of zero (0) telephone presentations. I know it is not possible 100% of the time. I also know it is possible more than 50% of the time.

For the record: Should of, would of, could of does not create interviews.

When was the last time you reviewed your shortlist presentation methodology?

There are discussions in some circles about the death of the CV. I don’t think that will happen. I also don’t think that the apply with Linkedin button will replace the CV as there are often omissions and fabrications on Linkedin profiles that don’t get replicated as often in a CV. As reference, I do think that the apply with Linkedin is a great way to create an “expression of interest” for a good internal/external recruiter to then follow up and profile the individual.

As CVs stand they are pretty weak documents. All as individual as the people who wrote them. Some recruitment businesses reformat CVs so they are presented in the same format (font, location of core details etc), others don’t. Market to market there are different preferences some dictated by the clientele. I prefer a standard CV format. It makes it easier to compare like for like.

What are the options when presenting a shortlist?

Option 1:

Raw CV – that’s it. Little different from what a client would receive from a direct advert. What value is being added at this point?

Option 2:

Raw CV & Consultant Commentary – Sending the CV as is. (Would you change a spelling mistake or leave it there for the client to pick up on?) The consultant commentary adds interview notes and relevant evidence for submission.

Option 3:

Amended CV & Consultant Commentary – All in the same font, colour and photos removed (pictures on CVs in not a good idea unless applying for an acting/modeling position) plus commentary as above

Option 4:

Standardised CV & Commentary – Fully formatted CV to allow immediate and easy comparison. Commentary again to provide match data and supporting info

Option 5:

Standardised CV & Commentary & tests – As above plus appropriate psychometric tests, verbal skills, numerical reasoning etc. Benchmark set with the client prior to submission.

Option 6:

CV enhanced with purchased services – There seems to be more and more businesses that are offering CV presentation/enhancement services. Not the CV writing brigade, I mean the “CV reinventers” or CV bolt ons. For example Innovate CV who offer an online resume building service included for recruitment businesses this for me over sterilizes the CV and loses the individuality of the CV itself. There is also Jerry Albright’s Verbal Summary which I think is a great concept and it amazes me more recruiters don’t use it as it is a great way to present your candidate to the client without them becoming a different person.

Option 7:

Present candidates to the client without a CV and gain agreement to interview based upon your professional expertise and recommendation. A CV document will be with them, including your own interview notes, in readiness to prepare and conduct the interview.

What is the best way to present a shortlist?

Bronze service:

Email to the client and cross fingers

Silver service:

Email them to the client and follow up on the phone within 48 hours

Gold Service:

Phone the client, present each candidate with passion and balanced appraisal and book them for an interview, then send CVs.

Platinum service:

Meet the client face to face and discuss all candidates in your long list and together agree a shortlist.


If you wish to achieve a better CV to interview ratio then think about how you are presenting your candidates to your client. Think about the format and think about the media you use. If you believe they are worth meeting then demonstrate it. Make your service feel advisory and take pride in the quality of people you find. Sell your candidates because they are right for the opportunity NOT because you want to make some interview quota. In my opinion it is the recruiters who do not believe who will hide behind an email.