The Recruitment Process in 7 Steps (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 13, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated July 13, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

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.

The recruiting process refers to the steps companies take when locating and selecting new candidates. An effective recruiting process is essential for businesses that want the best candidates for open positions. If you work in human resources, it’s important to understand how to optimize recruitment.

In this article, we define recruitment, list the seven steps in the recruitment process and provide some tips for hiring the best candidates. 

Related: 125 Common Job Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is the process of finding and hiring qualified employees to fill open positions in a company. Recruitment is often conducted by a recruiter, human resources department, hiring manager or department manager.

The person or department who oversees recruiting can depend on the size, structure and needs of the company. Large companies usually have recruiting departments whose primary role is developing job postings and reaching candidates.

In smaller companies, department managers may be directly responsible for recruiting their own new people, or it may be completed by the owner. The recruitment process includes every stage of obtaining new employees, from planning what to include in a job posting to the interview process.

Related: Human Resources: Definition and How It Works

The 7 steps of the recruiting process

Here are the seven steps to an effective recruitment process:

1. Planning

During the planning phase, you determine what positions need to be filled and develop the job description for each position. Job descriptions include the duties and responsibilities an employee is expected to perform and what qualifications and experience would be necessary to accomplish the work.

You build the job description through a combination of management input and analysis to determine if it is a permanent position, whether it is full- or part-time, the requirements and training to complete the job duties, compensation and performance evaluation.

The job specification outlines the details of the position. You should include where the role ranks in the organization and potential career paths for employees. The job specification should also list any equipment the employee needs to use.

It is important to describe the emotional, behavioral, physical and mental requirements to efficiently meet the work expectations. This document can help you determine what to look for in an ideal candidate, how you should approach recruiting and what to include in a compensation package.

Related: What Is Full Life Cycle Recruiting?

2. Strategy development

The recruitment strategy outlines how you can find candidates to fill the position. At this stage, the recruiting team determines if the candidates are expected to have prior experience or if they are going to be trained on the job. This affects compensation, what requirements the company plans to list in the job posting and what resources might be required for training.

The recruiter also determines where the position can be advertised. Many companies advertise in the area close to their location, but some offer relocation options or allow their employees to work remotely.

Another important aspect of developing a recruitment strategy is determining what type and source of recruitment you plan to use. You might prefer job fairs, online postings, recruitment agencies or recruiting on college campuses. Each type and source of recruiting requires different resources, including cost and time investments. Your approach to recruiting also depends on what area you are recruiting from, the job requirements and your ideal candidate.

Related: 14 Recruiting Tips for Finding Better Candidates

3. Searching

The searching stage is the process of actively finding job candidates. Many companies use a combination of internal and external sources for attracting candidates. Internal recruitment includes transfers, promotions, postings within the organization and reaching out to former employees.

The hiring process can take place from within using employee referrals and previous candidates. External hiring sources include any recruiting method where you are looking outside of the organization, such as employment agencies, advertisements, campus recruiting, direct recruiting and professional associations.

Related: 13 Recruiting Strategies To Help You Find the Best Candidates

4. Screening

The screening process is the act of narrowing the pool of candidates down to those to be interviewed. This involves reviewing resumes and cover letters to separate unqualified candidates from those who make promising fits. You should consider each candidate's education, certifications, work experience and career progression.

Some recruiters use screening software to eliminate any candidates that don't meet the minimum requirements. Some hiring managers also have candidates complete psychometric testing to evaluate their skills, personality traits, communication and problem-solving skills.

Once you have narrowed down your candidates, contact them about the position through email or telephone. Some recruiters often conduct a short phone interview to verify that the candidate is still interested in the position, determine when their availability and set up a time for preliminary questions. Phone interviews typically last 15 to 20 minutes and are used to determine who may be invited to interview in person.

Related: 18 Effective Recruiting Sourcing Strategies To Use

5. Interviewing and selecting

The interview generally happens in person but could be conducted via video conference if the candidate is not local to the office. During this phase, the managers meet with a small group of the best candidates. The interview process may involve more than one face-to-face interview, depending on the number of candidates, size of the organization and competitiveness of the role.

Interview questions vary, but they often focus on how the candidate responds to stress, a deeper assessment of their skills and background, how they view themselves as employees and what they are looking for in an employer.

You should use the information from these interviews to select a final candidate. This is the stage where you should run background checks, verify employment details and contact references. Verifying information is important to be sure there has been no miscommunication about the candidate's experience or educational history.

Related: A Guide to Recruiting Methods: Benefits and When To Use

6. Job offer and onboarding

The next step is officially offering your preferred candidate the position. You should provide an offer letter that includes the start date, compensation, working hours and performance expectations. If you are using an employment agency or search consultant, they should be the one who extends the job offer.

If the candidate accepts the offer, you should offer comprehensive onboarding to welcome your new employee. Onboarding helps your new hire learn about the company's culture, how to prepare for work and what to expect on their first day.

Related: Data-Driven Recruiting: Definition, Benefits and How To Use It

7. Evaluating the recruitment process

The final stage of the recruitment process is to analyze the effectiveness of your recruiting methods. By closely examining the process, you can determine your satisfaction with the candidates that you recruited, the cost-effectiveness of the recruiting methods and ways that the recruiting process could be improved in the future.

You can use statistical analysis of your costs, time spent and how well the candidates fit your requirements to help with the evaluation. You should also use qualitative measures, such as surveys asking recruiters and managers about their experiences with the process.

Related: Human Resource Management and Their Role in Your Job Search

Tips for recruiting candidates

There are two main sources for recruiting candidates for your job opening: internal and external. Internally sourced candidates are already connected with the company, either directly or indirectly. Externally sourced candidates are people who do not have a relationship with the company and need to be reached in other ways. Here are some tips for places you can find both internal and external candidates:

  • Transferred or promoted employees: This is an internal recruiting source in which you allow qualified and high-performing candidates to change roles. Transferred employees are those who work in another department or at a different site, while promotions are usually conducted within a single department.

  • Referrals: In this case, you use your existing employees' social networks to find recruits. You might offer a referral program to incentivize your employees to recommend their friends and associates for the position.

  • Previous candidates: You can keep applications on file for candidates who weren't selected and contact them when a position that matches their qualifications becomes available.

  • Advertisements: You can advertise job openings online or in print to reach a wide range of candidates. Print media might include professional publications, newspapers and magazines.

  • Company career site: You can post any open positions on the company's career page to be able to convey the company culture and brand, as well as streamline the application process and easily review resumes.

  • Job portals: Job portals are websites that allow job seekers to find open positions to match their career interests and qualifications. You can reach a wide audience and many portals allow you to pre-screen which applications are sent to your hiring department.

  • Social networking platforms: You can use the company's social media platform to reach a large talent pool. This is another way to convey the company culture and connect with excellent candidates.

  • Placement agencies: Placement agencies often have a pool of candidates to select from and use a variety of tools to reach qualified candidates. They are a great resource for vacancies that might require a lot of effort, time and resources.

  • Job fairs: Job fairs are public events that bring a lot of candidates into one place and are often held at conventions, professional conferences and universities. Some municipalities and professional organizations host job fairs.

  • Campus placements: You can work with college and university career centers and academic departments to recruit students and alumni who meet your educational requirements.

  • Professional organizations: Many professional organizations maintain databases of qualified professionals, which can be used for direct recruiting. These databases often include a portfolio, certifications and other qualifications.

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