Shortlist candidates

Find out how to shortlist candidates as part of your recruitment process.

You must shortlist candidates as part of your recruitment process based on the person being best suited to the position. See Section 45 of the Public Sector Act 2022.

You must assess your candidates on ability, aptitude, skills, qualifications, knowledge, experience and personal qualities as relevant to the role. You must also consider any previous employment and the candidate’s potential to develop.

Assessing merit

Use a variety of assessments relevant to the role as part of your selection process to help you shortlist your candidates fairly and equally. Do not select a candidate based on 1 assessment (i.e. written application). Do not reject a candidate based on 1 performance in the assessment process (e.g. performed badly in the structured interview).


Before you start shortlisting, apply weightings to your key capabilities (selection criteria) in order of importance. You cannot change these weightings once you start shortlisting. In the interest of transparency, you should inform your candidates of these weightings.


Consider using a rating scale to assess your candidates’ performance against your key capabilities. Define this before you start shortlisting and do not change your rating scale while you’re shortlisting.

If you use a rating scale, you and your panel members need to explain each rating given and offer supporting evidence gathered during the selection process. Include this as part of your selection report.

Do not rate referee reports.


Before you start shortlisting, decide what information you’d like from a candidate or what demonstrated behaviours you’d like to see. This is called benchmarking. Develop this for each key capability. Use this to help you identify preferred candidates. Do not use it to eliminate candidates (because they didn't use a key word or statements).

Ensure you and your panel members are aware of your unconscious biases. We all have them.

Unconscious bias is positive or negative judgment of, or behaviour towards, others that we’re not aware of. We develop our unconscious bias through the environment we grow up in and live in, and our experiences. It’s a product of our need to organise our social world into categories.

Complete the Harvard Implicit Association Test. Get your panel members to complete it too. Being aware of your unconscious biases will help you and your panel members watch and adjust for it during the selection process.


Ensure you attract a wide and diverse pool of candidates. Use non-traditional advertising avenues in addition to Smart jobs and careers. Engage with:

In your job ad, only request a resume and a short cover letter (1 or 2 pages). This will increase the overall pool of potential applicants from outside the Queensland Government.

Promote the Queensland Government benefits we know attract diverse candidates. These include:


Track the number and ratio of diverse candidates. Extend or adjust your advertising to increase low representation in diverse groups.

Appoint diverse panel members.

Undertake a selection process that considers and makes reasonable adjustments for inclusion and diversity, including cultural matters, to ensure candidates are assessed equally.

Consider blind shortlisting—remove names and diversity specific information.

Track the number and ratio of diverse candidates through your selection process. Identify any significant shifts during each assessment and address any underlying causes. For example, if 50% of your candidates are female, but only 10% of the candidates you interview are female, you should review and adjust your shortlisting.


Review your interview questions. Ensure they do not favour a particular gender or exclude diverse backgrounds.

Include a values-based diversity question to ensure you are recruiting a candidate who values diversity.

When asking your interview questions, encourage two-way discussion that focus on transferable skills rather than pre-determined words or phrases.

See A step-by-step guide to preventing discrimination in recruitment for more.

You must put the public interest first during your recruitment process by selecting the candidate most suitable for appointment in a fair and unbiased way. You must not make decisions that are, or could be perceived to be, influenced by self-interest, private affiliations or the likelihood of personal gain or loss. You’d have a conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest is when your private interests interfere, or appear to interfere, with the performance of official duties. Private interests include personal, professional or business interests, as well as the interests of individuals that you associate with, such as family, dependants and friends.

Use the Identify conflicts of interest in recruitment and selection tool to determine if any actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest exist for you or your panel members.

Complete the Mandatory conflict of interest in recruitment and selection declaration form (PDF, 1.5 MB) to declare any actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest, or confirm that no conflict of interest exists.

If a conflict of interest exists, assess the conflict, and determine if you can appropriately manage it during the recruitment process. If you cannot, the panel member will have to remove themselves.

If you manage a conflict of interest during the recruitment process, your delegate will need to confirm with a senior delegate that the conflict is resolved in the public interest before they approve your appointment.

Prior knowledge of a candidate

If you have prior knowledge of a candidate, you must disclose the relationship and declare if it is a professional relationship, personal relationship, or both.

You must discuss all panel member’s prior knowledge of candidates during the merit assessment, ensuring you remain objective throughout the process.

If prior knowledge of a candidate will stop you from shortlisting them or appointing them to the role, you should advise them and give them an opportunity to respond.

You must provide details of prior knowledge and conflict of interest decisions in the selection report.

Recruitment agency conflict of interest

If you’re using a recruitment agency, they may have a conflict of interest if they provide services to any candidates you’re considering. For example, they may provide executive coaching services for some candidates. This is a conflict of interest.

Recruitment agencies must declare any conflicts of interest, or that there are no conflicts of interest, for each recruitment process.

Use the Shortlisting matrix template (DOCX, 458.5 KB) or help documenting each shortlisting strategy you use and your assessment of each candidate against that strategy. Record if you’re shortlisting the candidate for the next stage of the recruitment process.

See your intranet or speak to your HR team for help.

Use Queensland Shared Services

If your agency uses Queensland Shared Services to advertise your vacancies and manage your job applications, see Manage job applications (Springboard). Find out how to shortlist applications with your panel online and workflow candidates through the selection process.