An eligibility list is a list of prospective applicants that were unsuccessful in gaining a particular position, however would be still suitable to employ in either that position or one very similar. They are usually listed in order of preference with number 1 being their next choice. They are used for instances when the successful applicant turns the position down, doesn’t work out, or leaves with a short period of time from being employed.
The benefit of an eligibility list for employers is that if they keep an eligibility list and need to use it, they save hundreds of dollars on their recruitment process as they do not have to re-advertise, or re-interview all over again.
The benefit of eligibility lists for those looking for work is that some job seekers often apply for more than one position at a time and accept what is offered to them until a better option comes along. This means that the person listed on the top of the eligibility list can be offered the position weeks after the interview without having to reapply.
I have known some organisations, private and government, to keep eligibility lists for up to six months. I also know of a company that used their eligibility list to employ another person for the same position due to an increase of workload 7 months after they interviewed them.
So even if you were unsuccessful in gaining the position you applied for make sure you ask if there is an eligibility list. And if so where you are positioned on it, as it may mean you could be next in line and receive that surprising phone call asking if you are still interested in the position