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The Recruitment Process: How to Attract, Hire and Onboard Top Talent


Video: How to Recruit Employees

In this video, learn the steps in the recruitment process with tips for writing job descriptions, screening and interviewing candidates, and selecting the right candidate for your open role.


The recruitment process is one of the most important procedures for any business. It sets the tone for the type of employee you want to attract and has the potential to engage and impress top talent before they’ve set foot in your organization. As the front line ambassadors of your brand, hiring and retaining the right employees is essential.

By carefully and intentionally planning the hiring process from start to finish, you give your company the best chance of recruiting the most suitable candidates.

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What does it take to hire top talent?

Strong branding

The first step of the recruitment process has little to do with recruiting. To appeal to savvy candidates who are likely to fit into your company culture, you’ll need to have a clear brand personality and story. The mission, vision and story behind your company provide the perfect opportunity to engage employees so they’re truly inspired to give their best while at work.

Optimized job listings

For candidates to learn about your open position, you’ll need to create a job listing. Many companies post open positions on their company websites in addition to job boards and job sites online. Companies also post openings on professional social media platforms and use them to recruit potential candidates.

To attract candidates who fit into your company culture and reflect the qualities you expect, you’ll need to optimize your job listing. Ensure the language you use is on-brand and include perks and benefits of working for your company and outline the role.

Job application management

Another key component of the recruitment process is the job application. Companies have different preferences for how candidates should apply. Some use applicant tracking software (ATS) to scan the resumes and filter for the most qualified applicants.

Other organizations ask candidates to submit a cover letter and resume, which is manually reviewed by the hiring manager or HR team. You could also hold group interviews with all candidates who apply to see how they come across in person if this is more relevant to the role.

Polished job interviews

The next component of the recruitment process is a job interview. Candidates may be interviewed multiple times — sometimes by different managers within the organization. Companies may also perform background checks and reference checks or require that candidates complete different tests to evaluate their skills.

Keep in mind that recruitment is a two-way process. To appeal to the most qualified candidates, the interviewing skills of the manager conducting interviews should be excellent. They should live and breathe your brand and address interviewees in a confident, professional manner.

The recruitment process steps

To hire the most suitable applicants for your job openings, you should have a clear policy for recruitment. This should include a hiring procedure that’s tailored to the unique needs of your business.

A comprehensive example of the recruitment process steps are as follows:

  1. Needs identification
  2. Candidate persona
  3. Job description
  4. Search for candidates
  5. Screening
  6. Interview
  7. Job offer
  8. Onboarding

1. Identify the company’s needs

The first step in any company’s hiring process should be thoroughly assessing needs. If you’ve recently lost an employee who was with the company for five years, it might be challenging to find a direct replacement. In this case, you might need to simplify the role and delegate one or two duties to existing employees. Before getting started with designing a job description, be certain about the duties you need the new employee to fulfill.

2. Build a candidate persona

In this stage of the recruitment process, you create a candidate persona and job description for the position. The candidate persona helps you identify the ideal skills and traits that align with what you’re looking for in a candidate. Building this profile is essential because it lets you write a targeted job description attracting that specific type of candidate. It also gives you a set of guidelines for evaluating applicants.

3. Create a bespoke job description

Next, you’ll create a job description that makes people want to apply. Instead of creating a list of requirements, focus more on salary range, benefits, values and company culture. Make sure the tone of the job description matches your website and all other company documentation for brand consistency. This gives you the best chance of appealing to applicants who fit into your organization.

4. Search for candidates

The next phase in the recruitment life cycle is to search for candidates. You can choose to do this internally or externally. An internal search would involve identifying the ideal candidate from within your current pool of employees.

You could also encourage employees to refer someone who would be a good fit for a role. This can be a highly effective strategy because people tend to keep company with similar values and ideals. If you’ve got a particularly hard-working employee with a great attitude, be sure to check if they have any like-minded friends looking for a job.

An external search involves posting the job description to job boards where candidates are actively searching for openings. You could also try headhunting, which means actively seeking out people who aren’t currently looking for a job but who would be ideal for the position. You can find these people through online research or networking.

The final method of finding candidates through an external search is social media. You can use paid or organic social media to promote your position and engage with candidates.

5. Screen applicants

The next stage in the recruitment process is to screen candidates to identify the ones who are most qualified for the position. You can manually screen candidates by reviewing resumes and looking for specific keywords or phrases. You could also use ATS that automates the screening process by using AI to identify and reject applicants who don’t fit the criteria you’ve programmed.

If you still have a large pool of candidates to choose from or prefer manual selection, you can screen candidates by phone. Some people who are suitable for the role might not have excellent written communication skills. If written skills aren’t a requirement for the role, phone screening might be more appropriate.

6. Interview shortlisted applicants

After you’ve narrowed your search to the most qualified candidates, it’s time to focus and find the right person for the role. This means interviewing candidates and asking a combination of classic interview questions and behavioral questions.

Remember, you’re not just looking for someone to perform duties. You need to make sure they’re going to be a cohesive team member who fits into your company and reflects your brand personality.

7. Extend a job offer

After you’ve identified the right candidate for the position, call the individual to extend a job offer. Next, send a formal letter or email that provides information about the start date, work schedule, compensation and other information the candidate needs to know.

If they don’t accept your offer, you should be prepared to negotiate. The smartest candidates are often the trickiest to onboard, so have a plan in place for how high you’re willing to raise the bar for an exceptional applicant.

8. Get onboarding and training

An onboarding plan should be the final step of the recruitment process life cycle. You’ve spent money, taken time and used company resources to hire this candidate. Their first impression of your company matters a lot if you want to maximize your ROI and make them feel like a valued part of the team from day one.

Onboarding and thorough training from day one helps new starters feel confident about your aptitude as an employer. It sets the tone for their employment with your company and has the power to motivate or demotivate them.

Your onboarding plan should include an orientation that covers corporate guidelines and the company’s culture and values. It should include team introductions and a training schedule to help the candidate acclimate themselves to the role.

How can I improve the recruitment process?

You should review your hiring process every six months or so and update it as necessary. Market changes are happening faster than ever and competition gets stronger with each year that passes. To keep attracting and hiring exceptional candidates, you should be meticulous about your recruitment policy.

Below are a few simple things that you can do to improve the recruitment process.

Review your target audience and branding

Your target audience are the most important people in the whole world for your company, and your employees are almost as vital. As the frontline ambassadors for your brand, your workforce should reflect and understand your target audience. By ensuring your job ads and company website are on brand, you’re more likely to attract the right candidates.

Add more detail to job ads

Consider adding the day-to-day activities of the position or tasks the new hire will be expected to fulfill in the first 90 days in their position. Elaborate on the requirements for candidates as well.

For example, stating that you’re looking for applicants with 10 years of experience is very general. To be more targeted, say that you’re looking for applicants with 10 years of experience bringing new products to market.

Test candidates

If your position requires strong technical skills or people skills, consider testing candidates to verify suitability. For example, you can ask developers to create code, copywriting candidates to write website copy or sales candidates to complete mock sales calls.

Ensure your hiring process is consistent

Your interview process should be consistent across all candidates. That means asking them the same questions during an interview and having them take the same tests. It also means assessing how their current qualifications compare to the ones listed when you identified company needs at the start of the recruitment process.

If you ask candidates different questions, you’re not able to compare their answers and suitability with any accuracy.

Recruitment process FAQs

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process refers to the steps that organizations use when hiring new candidates. It involves posting job vacancies, analyzing requirements for a position, reviewing applications, shortlisting candidates and choosing the new hire. It’s important that all companies have a procedure in place that outlines how they conduct their hiring process. The more detailed this procedure is, the easier it’ll be for all hiring managers to understand and use it.

What are the methods of recruitment?

All companies have different requirements, and each position is unique. Different methods of recruitment are better suited to different industries, so it’s important to conduct research to find out which is best for your company. The main recruitment methods are:

  • Direct advertising
  • Referrals
  • Talent pools
  • Promotions
  • Recruitment agency
  • Apprenticeships
  • Professional organizations
  • Events
  • Rehiring

How long is the hiring process?

Most experts estimate that the hiring process takes between one and two months from start to finish. In some industries, such as hospitality and retail, it’s shorter and in others, such as government, it’s longer. For executive or management jobs, two to three in-person interviews might be required to make a final decision, which can extend the process further.

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