6 stages of an effective recruitment process

Updated 14 August 2023

Recruitment is a complex process that allows employers to find highly qualified candidates to hire at their companies. Experienced employers and HR managers can follow a refined recruitment process to craft an attractive job offer that attracts candidates' attention, schedules job interviews and tests candidates to find the most qualified for the job. They may do this to ensure they choose the right employees who can increase the company's chances of success. In this article, we explain the recruitment process, list six stages of a successful process and mention different types of recruiting.

Related: 9 Essential Recruiter Skills for Career Success

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process is a complex process that helps employers find highly qualified candidates to hire at their companies. Typically, it's a recruiter, human resource department, hiring manager or department manager that conducts the recruitment. In some cases, such as when a small business is looking for new employees, the company owner can step in and organise recruitment from start to finish.

From a candidate's point of view, recruitment starts when they find a job offer that matches their skills and ends when they receive a job offer. The entire process for recruiters or HR professionals involves creating a new role at the company, drafting and advertising a job description, preparing interviews and tests, putting together an offer for the successful candidate and, lastly, onboarding.

Related: Guide: How To Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview

Recruitment stages

Recruitment requires identifying, attracting, interviewing, selecting, hiring and onboarding new employees. With organisation and a clear structure, recruiting can be an enjoyable experience for both the recruiter and the candidates. Here are the six core stages of recruiting:

1. Defining needs and requirements

Identifying the vacancy is the first step that a company makes during recruitment. Most vacancies become available when someone leaves, gets a promotion or decides to retire. It's also common for businesses to create new vacancies when they grow or expand to new markets. A situation like this allows the HR department to conduct an in-depth job analysis and create a detailed person specification. Recruiters use this information to draft job offers, consisting of a list of responsibilities and desired qualifications and skills that a candidate should have.

Preparing for the ideal candidate also requires deciding if the company prefers to hire a less experienced candidate or a highly skilled one that requires less training but with a higher salary requirement. If the company decides to create a new position, senior management and hiring managers can collaborate to decide where it would rank in the organisation and consider a typical career path for the person who fills the role.

2. Planning campaigns and processes

The next step in the process involves planning and choosing a strategy that works best for the role that the company wants to fill. At this stage, the recruiter works to make sure the job offer reaches qualified candidates that might be interested in applying for the position. The recruiter then decides where to advertise the job and for how long the advertisement can stay posted. It's typical for entry-level jobs to fill quickly, especially when compared to management and specialist positions, which often require more time to attract suitable candidates.

This stage also focuses on designing the interviewing processes. If you're conducting recruitment for your company, it's important to know that finding the right employee for some roles, including entry-level office jobs, may only require a series of interviews and meetings. However, if you're recruiting for more advanced roles, such as a senior software developer, you may want to test the candidates' skills by assigning them a project to complete in addition to conducting regular interviews.

3. Searching and attracting candidates

After identifying the vacancy and choosing which strategy works best for finding the most qualified candidates, the recruiter can advertise the job. Typically, there are two main ways in which a hiring manager or recruiter can do this:

Internal recruitment

Internal recruitment involves advertising the job via the company's internal communication channels, such as monthly company newsletters. Employers may choose to prioritise their existing employees because they're familiar with the company's culture and may require less time during the onboarding stage. It's also a way to appreciate employees and give them a chance to advance within the organisation and get promoted.

External recruitment

Recruiters can also actively look for suitable candidates and reach out to them via social media or post job ads on platforms like Indeed. They can also advertise jobs in local and national press, job centres or let external recruitment agencies know about the vacancy. This allows the recruiter to reach potential employees outside the organisation. These external candidates may bring a new dynamic to the team.

4. Selecting candidates and screening

When recruiters start receiving CVs from candidates interested in the position they're advertising, they may set expectations and define their must-haves. These are the bare minimum requirements that a candidate must have to go to the next stage in the process. Many recruiters choose to take advantage of an applicant tracking system (ATS) of their choice to filter through applications at this stage. They also use it to store CVs, cover letters, contact information and draft questions to ask during job interviews.

When you successfully select candidates to invite to the first round of interviews, you can inform them about it. In your first email, briefly explain how the interviewing process, hiring steps and onboarding may look. You may also provide a timeline of expected events. This is to make sure they know what to expect and can start preparing for the interview. Giving them enough time to practise is a sign of professionalism and empathy that can help maintain the company's reputation when recruiting employees.

Related: How long do DBS checks take? (With types and stages)

5. Hiring and onboarding

After deciding on a successful candidate and offering them a job, recruiters can hire the candidate and complete onboarding. If you've decided who to hire, you can provide a formal offer letter that includes the start date, compensation, working hours and performance expectations.

If the candidate accepts the offer, you can offer comprehensive onboarding to welcome them. A successful onboarding allows the company and coworkers to get to know the new hire and makes it possible for the new employee to adapt to the new work environment quickly.

Related: How To Accept a Job Offer

6. Evaluating the process

The last stage you can implement when recruiting is analysing the process. You can collect and review data involving the recruiting results. Consdier reviewing the satisfaction of the candidates you interviewed and the new employee's opinion on your company's recruitment practices. Be sure to look at how many people applied and what the conversion rate was for each advertisement. For example, if you notice that there was little to no interest in the role from the internal recruitment, consider sending out a short questionnaire to the company's employees to find out what may have caused this.

It's crucial to evaluate completed processes because the company's HR department can use it to plan, design and implement other recruiting efforts in the future and increase the quality of the organisation's hiring standards.

Related: 8 reasons to consider pursuing a career in recruitment

Types of recruiting

Here are several different types of recruiting that you may decide to introduce in your company or department:

  • Retained recruiting: In this case, a company hires an external recruitment agency involved and pay them an upfront fee. The agency works exclusively, meaning that only they look for suitable candidates to fill the position.

  • Contingency recruiting: Contingency recruiting also involves an external agency that looks for the right candidate for the role. In this type, the agency receives compensation only when they successfully place the candidate for the position in question.

  • Staffing recruiting: Staffing recruiting typically focuses on short-term employment. Agencies that specialise in this type of recruitment find candidates and match them with qualified job openings.

  • Outplacement recruiting: If an employer offers their former employee to help them find a new job, it's called outplacement. It's a benefit that some companies implement to facilitate the job transition process for their staff.

  • Reverse recruiting: In reverse recruiting, a candidate reaches out to a hiring manager to start the recruiting effort. This typically happens when a candidate has an ideal company they'd like to work for and discovers a job opening that matches their skills and experience.

Related: How to build a strategic recruitment plan (in steps)

Related articles

What does a recruiter do? (With skills and duties)

Explore more articles

  • List of highest paying chemistry jobs (Plus specialisations)
  • What is a fast-track teaching qualification? (With FAQs)
  • A definitive guide to carpenter qualifications (plus skills)
  • What does a job in recruitment involve? (plus skills)
  • Business vs. Finance Analyst: Understanding the Differences
  • How to become an Ofsted inspector (with daily duties)
  • 18 alternative careers for architects (with salaries and duties)
  • How to Become a Career Advisor
  • What does a project administrator do? (Job roles and salary)
  • How to become a digital artist (Including tips and advice)
  • 10 examples of charity organisation jobs (Plus salaries)
  • How To Become an Aesthetic Nurse in 8 Clear Steps