Recruitment vs. Selection: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 14, 2022 | Published September 2, 2021

Updated September 14, 2022

Published September 2, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finding qualified employees to fill open roles can be challenging for many companies. To hire effective candidates, it's important for hiring managers to familiarize themselves with each stage of the hiring process. If you work in human resources or management, it's important to understand the recruitment and selection stages to ensure you hire candidates who meet all necessary requirements.

In this article, we compare recruitment and selection by explaining the definition of each, sharing some popular methods you can use to recruit and select job candidates and exploring the key differences between these hiring practices.


What is recruitment?

Recruitment is a process hiring managers use to promote open positions within their company. When a job opportunity becomes available, hiring managers often partner with their marketing team to encourage qualified candidates to apply. This is typically the first step in the hiring process. Some actions a hiring manager may take during the recruitment phase include:

  • Advertising the open job position

  • Sending direct messages to pre-qualified candidates

  • Determining the job requirements

  • Writing a job description

  • Responding to inquiries about the position

  • Reviewing resumes and applications

  • Creating a shortlist of potential candidates to interview

Read more: What Is Recruitment? A Comprehensive Guide


What is selection?

Selection refers to the process of choosing which candidate is best suited for the open job position. The hiring manager typically starts with a shortlist of qualified candidates. Then, they use different methods to assess each candidate's skills and abilities to ensure they hire the right individual for the job. Some actions the hiring manager may take during the selection phase of the hiring process include:

  • Screening candidates based on their applications

  • Administering aptitude tests

  • Interviewing qualified candidates

  • Contacting references

  • Performing background checks

Related: Targeted Selection Interview: Definition and Tips


Recruitment vs. selection

While recruitment and selection are both important steps in hiring candidates for open positions, there are some key differences between these two processes. Some of the biggest differences include:

  • Process: Recruitment is the process of finding potential candidates to apply for a job position, whereas selection is the process of identifying the best candidate to hire.

  • Number of candidates: In the recruitment stage, the number of candidates increases, whereas in the selection stage, the number of candidates decreases.

  • Order of steps: Recruitment is one of the first steps in the hiring process, whereas selection is one of the last steps.

  • Resource commitment: Recruitment typically requires minimal time and money, whereas selection is a more involved process that can be more time-consuming and expensive.

Related: What Is a Recruitment Budget? (And How To Create One)


8 methods of recruitment

Establishing an effective recruitment strategy can help you attract the most qualified candidates and meet the needs of the organization. While your recruitment methods may vary depending on the industry you work in, the position you're hiring for and the specific needs of your company, there are some popular recruitment methods you might benefit from learning. Here are eight methods of recruitment you can use to attract skilled candidates:


1. Employee referrals

Many companies offer an employee referral program to offer current team members incentives to get their friends, family members and colleagues to apply for open positions. If the company hires a candidate who another employee referred, the employee may be eligible to receive a monetary bonus. This method can be a cost-effective way to acquire quality candidates because current employees have a proper understanding of the skills, qualifications and personalities individuals require to perform their job effectively.

Read more: Employee Referral Programs: Components and Benefits


2. Talent pool databases

As you collect applications, consider creating a talent pool database by storing resumes from candidates who fit your company culture. These resumes may be from candidates who applied for a previous role for which you hired someone else or who simply applied before an open position was available. While a talent pool database can take time to develop, it's a helpful tool to help you identify potential candidates who are already interested in working for your company. When new positions become available, you can contact qualified candidates from your database pool to see if they're interested in applying.

Related: Q&A: How Long Does the Hiring Process Take?


3. Recruitment events and job fairs

If your company is hiring for multiple positions, consider attending a recruitment event or a job fair to promote these opportunities. These events attract job seekers and allow you to meet with candidates in person so you can share why the company is a great place to work. This also allows you to learn more about potential candidates, which can help you speed up the selection phase of the hiring process. This method is especially effective if you're hiring for entry-level positions since current students and recent graduates often make up a majority of the attendees.


4. Social media channels

Posting about open job positions on your company's social media channels can be a great way to attract candidates who are already familiar with your brand. You can also use social media to post about job openings in industry-related groups. This can help you reach candidates who have the knowledge and skills to excel in the role you're looking to fill.

Read more: How To Use Social Media for Recruitment in 4 Steps (With Tips)


5. Job boards

Posting about available positions on job boards is one of the most popular methods hiring managers use to recruit candidates. Write a short description of the job you're hiring for that includes key details about your company, the tasks and responsibilities the candidate would perform if hired and the specific requirements individuals need to meet. You may also include information about the salary and benefits your company is offering. While using job boards may seem expensive at first, it can save you valuable time and help you streamline the recruitment process.


6. Direct advertisements

There are several direct advertisement options you can explore to promote open job positions at your company. You might choose to use radio advertisements, billboards or television commercials to reach a wide variety of people if your company is hiring for multiple, entry-level positions. If you're looking for a more specific type of candidate, you might use digital advertisements to target people who match your ideal qualifications or publish your advertisement in an industry-related magazine.

Related: What Is Targeted Advertising? Definition, Types and Tips


7. Boomerang employees

Boomerang employees are individuals who previously worked for your company who you'd consider hiring again. These employees may have left your company for personal reasons even though they were an excellent culture fit and skilled at their job. Consider asking department managers and team leaders if they recall any former employees they would recommend for the open position.


8. Promotions and transfers

If you're aiming to fill a more advanced role, consider whether any of your current employees have the right skill set and qualifications to meet the job requirements before looking for candidates outside of the company. Often, it's easier to promote a talented employee to a senior-level position and then hire a candidate to fill the role they previously held. Offering promotions and transfers to hardworking employees can also help you retain your current workforce longer and improve company morale, which may decrease the number of positions you need to hire candidates for in the future.

Related: 17 Effective Employee Selection Methods To Consider

7 methods of selection

Selecting the right candidate during this phase can help you positively impact your company, strengthen your team and improve work quality. While your selection methods may vary depending on the number of qualified candidates who apply, the type of role you're hiring for and the specific needs of the company, there are some common selection methods most hiring managers use. Here are seven methods that can help you select ideal candidates:


1. Application screening

The first step in the selection process is typically to screen applications by ensuring candidates meet the minimum qualifications to be considered for the role. For example, you might review applications to ensure individuals are legally eligible to work in your country, have completed the necessary education or certification requirements and have relevant work experience. Many companies choose to use applicant tracking software (ATS) to search for keywords and phrases during this phase. Implementing ATS at your company can help you save a significant amount of time.



2. Skills tests

In addition to requiring a resume and cover letter, many companies ask job candidates to complete a skills test as part of their initial application. For example, if you're hiring a computer programmer, you might ask candidates to take a short online test to assess their knowledge of different programming languages. Candidates who receive a passing score may automatically progress to the next round of the hiring process.


3. Psychometric tests

Another tool you may use to screen applicants is a psychometric test. While there are a wide variety of psychometric tests available, hiring managers typically use them to assess a candidate's personality, integrity and cognitive abilities. The results from these tests can help you determine which candidates have the ability to perform job-related tasks effectively. Psychometric tests may also help you choose candidates who align with your company's culture.

Related: How To Pass a Personality Test



4. Preliminary interview

Hiring managers may schedule a preliminary interview with candidates who submitted impressive applications and scored well on assessment tests. They often choose to schedule a preliminary interview by phone or video call to save time. The purpose of having a preliminary interview is to verify that the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for the job. Each interview typically takes less than 15 minutes to complete, which allows hiring managers to meet with several candidates in a short period of time.


5. Employment interview

The employment interview involves formally meeting with the most qualified candidates to ask them more in-depth questions. This can help you get to know each candidate on a more personal level, test their industry knowledge and learn about their previous work experiences. Prepare a list of questions to ask each candidate to assess their skills and abilities.

Related: 20 Most Common Interview Types and How To Succeed at Each

6. Team interview

In addition to hosting an employment interview, some hiring managers hold a final interview with other members of their team. This can be helpful if you have more than one qualified candidate for the role because you can get input from your colleagues to help you make your decision. It can also improve the chances that the person you hire is a good fit for your company's culture. Consider inviting management or a few employees who the new hire would be working with directly if you decide to host a team interview.

7. Reference and background checks

Hiring managers may perform reference checks to learn more about a candidate by talking to their former employers, supervisors and coworkers. This can help you verify important information and assess the candidate's work ethic. Hiring managers also perform background checks to ensure the details the candidate provided in their application are correct. For example, you might use a background check to verify where a candidate went to school or ensure they earned a specific certificate.

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