What is a recruiting process?

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When you have an open role at your company, how do candidates find out about it? There’s probably more than one answer to that question – candidates might come across a job posting on social media or a job board, they might get a referral from an existing employee or a recruiter might reach out to them to see if they’d be interested in the role.

And once a candidate expresses interest in a role, what happens after that? Generally, they’ll submit an application, it will be reviewed by a recruiter or hiring manager and the candidate will be invited to participate in interviews or other assessments before you make a decision to extend an offer or not. All of these are potential steps in the recruiting process.

While it might not always look the same for every candidate, it’s important to create consistency and structure in your process for a number of reasons (we’ll get into those in a minute).

First, let’s look a little more closely at some of the common steps of the recruiting process.

Recruiting process steps

While the exact steps can vary depending on factors like the specific role, the company that’s hiring and the people who are involved in the process (like the recruiter, hiring manager, recruiting coordinator and department leader, for example), these are some of the steps that most recruiting processes include.

  • Role kick-off and writing the job description

One of the first things that generally happens is a role kick-off. This is usually a meeting between the recruiter and the hiring manager where they discuss topics like why the role is being created and what a successful candidate would look like, which forms the basis of the job description. They also decide on the timeline for the next steps and discuss who will be responsible for which steps of the hiring process. For example, the hiring manager will usually design the take-home assessment while the recruiter will review resumes and conduct initial screens with candidates. Note that this step may be skipped if the role is regularly recurring and the recruiter and hiring manager are already aligned and don’t need to make adjustments to the process or job description.

  • Publishing the job opening

Once the recruiter and hiring manager are aligned on the job description and timeline (and they’ve gotten any approvals needed from the finance team, department head or the CEO), they can publish the job opening. This will generally be on the company’s career site as well as on external job boards. If the role is open to internal applicants, it will also be published on the company’s internal job board.

  • Candidate sourcing

In some cases – either because the company does not get many inbound applications or because they’d like to ensure they have a diverse candidate pool – recruiters may engage in candidate sourcing activities. This can involve using specific sourcing tools to identify and reach out to candidates to inform them about the job and encourage them to apply. Many companies also rely on sourcing when recruiting for executive or highly-skilled positions.

  • Resume screen

As soon as a job opening is live, interested candidates can begin to submit their applications, generally through a tool like an applicant tracking system (ATS). The resume screen is the step of the process when the recruiter reviews resumes and decides whether candidates meet the basic criteria for a role. For example, if the role is location-specific, they’ll check the candidate’s resume to determine if they live in the right geographical area. In some cases, certain steps of the process can be automated, but there will generally be a recruiter or hiring manager who makes the ultimate decision about whether a candidate passes the resume screen.

  • Interview scheduling

After the resume screen is complete, the recruiter or recruiting coordinator will generally reach out to the candidate to schedule an interview. This process involves finding a time that works for both the interviewer and the candidate and sharing any relevant details the candidate will need before the interview takes place.

  • Phone screening interview

The exact steps can vary depending on the company, but the recruiter will often conduct the first interview over the phone (referred to as a “phone screen” or “phone screening interview”). This interview generally allows the recruiter to dive a little deeper into the information they learned from the candidate’s resume and gives them the chance to tell the candidate more about the role and the company. In some cases, the hiring manager will conduct a phone screening interview, either before or after the recruiter.

  • Onsite interview

After the candidate has passed the phone screening interview or series of interviews, they will generally be invited for an onsite interview. In the past, this type of interview was generally held onsite at the company’s physical office (hence the name), but with the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work, today’s onsite interviews may be held in a virtual setting. The onsite interview generally takes longer, goes into more depth than phone screening interviews and involves meeting with several people. When it takes place in the physical office, it also lets candidates learn more about the workplace and office features. Many companies also use this as an opportunity to introduce candidates to their company culture and people outside of the direct team they’d be working with. Not sure what you should be asking during interviews? Here are a few simple tips for defining your interview scorecard and planning your interviews.

  • Role roundup and decision-making

Many companies also organize a role roundup where the key participants in the hiring team have a chance to share their feedback on several candidates and make a decision. Even if this is not an official meeting with all members of the hiring team, the hiring manager and recruiter will likely discuss who the hiring manager would like to extend an offer to and why.

  • Offer

If you’ve decided you’d like to move forward with a candidate, the next step of the recruitment process is extending a well-crafted offer that outlines the role, responsibilities and compensation package. The recruiter and/or the hiring manager can be involved in this step.

Why is it so important to get your recruiting process right?

While it’s common for companies to make adjustments to the recruitment process based on the specific role and team involved, the most successful companies take a very intentional approach that can be repeated across different roles and geographies, something that’s often referred to as “structured hiring.” While the specifics can vary, generally speaking, structured hiring has three core components:

  • The ideal candidate is defined by the business objectives of the job
  • A deliberate process and rubric is used to assess all candidates
  • Hiring decisions are based on data and evidence

This might sound like a lot of work – and it is – but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes to set up structured hiring. Let’s consider a few.

  • Structured hiring saves time and money

Structured hiring facilitates hiring team collaboration and expedites candidate feedback while allowing recruiters to see when candidates are stuck in an interview stage for longer periods of time. This reduces the need for extended deliberation and helps your team make faster and more informed hiring decisions. The more efficient your hiring process, the faster you can get new hires onboarded and productive in their roles.

  • Structured hiring helps you become more data-driven

Because you consistently collect data across all stages of the hiring process when you follow a structured approach to hiring, you can quickly identify bottlenecks and pivot as needed. Rich recruiting reporting gives hiring teams better insight into hiring trends, helping you refine evaluation criteria and adjust your recruitment process to get measurably better at hiring.

Here are some of the most popular recruitment metrics we’ve seen our customers at Greenhouse leverage by adopting our software’s structured hiring process:

- Time-to-hire and hiring speed

- Offer acceptance rate

- Offer pass-through rate

- DE&I reporting

- Quality-of-hire

  • Structured hiring provides a better candidate experience and improved employer brand

According to LinkedIn, companies with strong employer branding see a 50% decrease in cost-per-hire and are able to hire employees 1-2 times faster than their competition. Structured hiring elevates your employer branding by ensuring a great candidate experience and demonstrating professionalism and commitment to fairness. This, in return, helps you attract quality candidates while embracing efficiency.

  • Structured hiring limits bias and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)

Structured hiring ensures that all candidates are consistently assessed using the same rubric throughout the interview process. It also incorporates interview tools like candidate scorecards and anonymized assessments to empower hiring teams to make more fair and equitable candidate comparisons. Finally, by gathering insight into all stages of the hiring process, structured hiring gives hiring teams more visibility to make better hiring decisions based on data, not intuition.

Learn more about the recruiting process and structured hiring in these related resources:

Structured hiring, Talent strategy

Hiring manager’s guide to a structured hiring process

Interviewing, Structured hiring

How to effectively assess talent with a strong interview structure

Structured interviewing helps you hire efficiently, while creating a process that’s more fair and…

Structured hiring

Structured hiring 101: Your blueprint for success

In an ideal world, recruiters, managers, and everyone else involved in the hiring process would be…

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