The Recruitment and Hiring Process

An Overview of How People Get Hired

Graphic showing the steps in the hiring process including listing, recruiting, application, and the interview.

The Balance / Katie Kerpel

How does the recruitment process work? Although companies use different methods to find applicants for employment, most have a formal process that they use to find and hire new employees.

Learning more about their methods can help you appeal to your target employers, which will improve your chances of being recruited and hired. Here’s what you need to know.

Steps in the Recruiting Process

Before companies hire new employees, they engage in a formal recruiting process that involves three phases: planning, recruitment, and employee selection.

  1. Human resource planning: This is when a company settles on the number of employees they are looking to hire and the skill sets they require of these employees. The company must then compare their needs to the expected number of qualified candidates in the labor market.
  2. Recruitment: During this phase, a company tries to reach a pool of candidates through job postings, job referrals, advertisements, college campus recruitment, etc. Candidates who respond to these measures then come in for interviews and other methods of assessment. Employers may conduct background checks of prospective employees. They will also check references.
  3. Employee selection: Lastly, the employer evaluates information about the pool of applicants generated during the recruitment phase. After assessing the candidates, the company decides which applicant will be offered the position.

The basic process is the same, but there may be variations when the entire hiring process is conducted remotely. For example, employers may conduct video interviews instead of in-person conversations. They may even extend job offers to candidates they’ve never met in person.

How Companies Find Applicants

Depending on their requirements, resources, and immediate needs, companies can find applicants in a variety of different ways.

Recruiters

Some companies work with a recruiter to find applicants. Recruiters may work for employers as part of their human resources department, or they may work for recruiting agencies. Also known as headhunters, these external recruiters often find high-level employees for companies.

Company Career Pages

Most larger companies, and many smaller companies, post available jobs on their company website. Job applicants can search for jobs, review job listings, and apply for jobs online. Job seekers may be able to set up job search agents to notify them via email of new openings. Some companies schedule interviews online, as well.

Job Sites

Companies that are actively recruiting candidates will not only post jobs on their website but will also post jobs on job boards and other job sites. They may choose general job boards like Indeed or Monster, or niche sites dedicated to different industries or remote jobs, or both.

Social Media

Companies are increasingly using social recruiting to source candidates for employment on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Recruiters may use LinkedIn to search for qualified candidates who are listed as being open to work, for example. Employers may also post job listings on social media or use social networks to promote job postings on their company site. 

Even companies who do not use social media for recruiting often review applicants’ online presence during the hiring process. So, it’s a good idea to clean up or lock down your profiles when you’re job searching.

How To Apply for Jobs

How applicants apply for jobs depends on the company, as well. Some companies use applicant tracking systems to accept applications for employment and to screen and select candidates to interview.

In other cases, the job application process will require applicants to submit a resume and cover letter via email. Some employers still prefer that applicants apply in person.

As part of the application process, candidates may be asked to take a talent assessment test to see if their background matches the company's requirements. The employer will then review job applications and test results, select candidates, and then invite them for a job interview.

What To Expect During Job Interviews

The interview process isn't a matter of getting called for a job interview, interviewing, and getting a job offer. In many cases, it is complex and may involve multiple interviews.

You may need to interview several times prior to receiving a job offer or a rejection notice. Companies will also run background checks, reference checks, and possibly credit checks as part of the recruitment process. If you’re selected, you may be offered a job contingent upon the results of these checks.