The 15 hiring process steps—plus 5 critical actions you might be missing out on

Last updated:
March 1, 2021
September 15, 2022
min read
Kate Smedley
hiring process steps
Table of contents

The global talent shortage is at a 12 year high. 45% of employers report difficulty recruiting talent, and for some organizations, the barrier to attracting talent may lie in your hiring process steps.

Is your team missing any of the essential steps of the hiring process? Or what about some other action leading to you losing out on your ideal hires and candidates?

The hiring process steps

1. Deciding there’s a role to fill

The first step is deciding that you need a new member of staff. Whether it’s because of an increased workload, a change in how your system operates, or you’re filling an open position—you’re going to need some fresh blood.

2. Putting together a complete plan

Recruitment requires careful and complete planning. It’s too easy to rush matters and miss essential stages or activities. Such plans should include how your new hire aligns with existing employees and teams, your business and its goals.

Everyone involved in the decision or affected by the new hire should be included in the process, which means delivering a concise plan to keep them all in the loop.

3. Writing a great job description

A great job description delivers all the information your candidates need to know and all the requirements you desire.

4. Advertising through the right channels

How and where you advertise will depend on the job type and level of hire. Internal hires could be the best bet for promotions within departments or staff moves that benefit the managers, teams, or the employee themself.

External advertising can be bolstered by internal publicity. Using your website, job pages, and industry events or publications are all strong contenders. Social media is one of the strongest methods of attracting talent in the current climate, so don’t overlook the most up-to-date trends.

5. Reaching out using recruiters, headhunters, and referrals

You don’t have to wait for your new star employees to come to you. If you know who they are, go and get them.

Whether you use professional recruiters, headhunters, or open the doors to referrals from your existing employees, you will often get a better fit for your roles when you already know who would make a great hire.

6. Reviewing candidate applications

Depending on the role and the number of candidates, reviews can be managed manually or using an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Sifting out those who fail to meet minimum requirements and ranking your best qualifiers can help you segment your candidates to narrow down your choices.

Relevant: How to shortlist candidates for interviews

7. Short interviews and pre-interview screenings

If you arrive at a position where you still have too many qualified candidates for your systems allowable interview period, short phone or video interviews can help you narrow down the numbers.

You may use these to confirm or dive deeper into experiences that are difficult to score without a conversation.

8. Interviews

You may choose to hold single or group interviews to thin out your list of candidates or hold single or multiple stages to batten down on your decisions.

However you manage the process, interviewing should be regulated to make questioning equal and easily monitored and scored.

9. Applicant assessments

Asking candidates to complete tests or assessments before, during, or after interviews delivers further intelligence into how appropriate and well prepared for the role they are.

Hirers can use assessments to gather different kinds of information, from personal to professional. This data can help to determine role readiness, cultural fit, and level of expertise.

Relevant: How to choose the right pre-employment assessment tool

10. Performing background checks

Background checks are a must for uncovering criminal records, credit issues, verifying references and employment histories.

A lot can be learned from a swift dive into social media accounts, especially into the type of person your new hire could turn out to be.

11. Coming to a decision

At this point, the hiring staff, team, or teams will have their preferred options. You should have a backup as well as your preferred candidate. They always have the option to say no to your offer.

12. Checking references

Those who skip this stage could be those most likely to end up in trouble. Without checking references, you’re taking your candidates’ word as gospel.

We all like to embellish our accomplishments and qualities to stand the best chance of getting noticed, but many go as far as falsifying information to better their chances.

13. The job offer

Your job offer letter must include the full range of information your new hire will need confirmation of before deciding to accept the position: salary, benefits, paid time off, severance pay, bonuses, overtime, remote working policy, and more.

Without a well-compiled offer, or even with one, your hopeful new hire may come back with further questions or negotiations to the deal.

14. And finally, hiring

If everything has gone well with your offer, the hiring begins. Included with your accepted offer confirmation will be all the employment paperwork required by your business and the law.

15. Don’t forget onboarding

Despite having hired your new employee, onboarding is still considered a crucial part of the recruiting system. A poor onboarding experience can lead to new hires feeling less than inspired by their new role and immediately seeking alternative options.

Prepare their workspace, welcome them to the role, make introductions and administer a mentor while they settle in. Hiring new staff is only the first step in turning them into valuable employees and the long-term stars in your company’s future.

5 critical actions you might be missing out on

With the path laid out in 15 easy-to-follow hiring process steps, you should have strong ideas of where your strengths and weaknesses are. We’ve put together 5 key areas where we believe you can significantly boost the steps in your hiring process.

1. A compelling careers page

Creating a positive employer brand is a crucial recruitment tool, and your careers site is key to achieving this.

First impressions count. Candidates arriving on your careers page should be able to expect a site that provides essential information about what it’s like to work for your company. But the reality is often different. Your careers site should be easy to navigate and include:

  • Your brand’s core values.
  • Your vision and culture.
  • All of your vacancies and clear instructions on how to apply. Arrange your jobs with tags to make them easier to find.
  • What it’s like to work for your company. Your employees are your best ambassadors. Include real stories and videos of what it’s like to work for your organization.

Integrate your careers site with your company website to provide a seamless transition – and ensure your entire hiring process is mobile-friendly. In 2016, 45% of job seekers started their job search on a mobile device.

2. A ‘one-click apply’ option

Nearly a third of employers can’t fill jobs due to a lack of suitable applicants. A lengthy application process contributes to this problem by increasing the number of candidate drop-offs. Time-consuming application forms risk the loss of up to 90% of the qualified candidates exploring your open jobs.

Global brands such as Netflix can boast an application time of under a minute with five questions in total. While that may seem like a stretch for your business, remember that the top 10% of talent is only on the market for ten days.

Support your hiring process with HR technology to attract candidates and offer them the opportunity to apply using their LinkedIn or Indeed profile via a ‘one-click apply’ option.

Relevant: 10 tips on how to improve your candidate experience

3. Data-driven hiring decisions

Research suggests that gut feeling remains the dominant factor in making a final decision on candidate hire, despite the focus on people analytics in successful talent acquisition.

Relying on intuition increases the risk of a bad hire. Build checkpoints throughout your hiring process to evaluate your candidates against the job requirements rather than your instinct. These may include the use of anonymized resumes and customized screening questions to ensure the candidates you see are the most appropriate for the job.

Structured interviews can also prevent confirmation bias and ensure that final hiring decisions are supported by data. Recruitee’s Evaluation tool enables hiring managers to create a structured and objective interview process. Final decisions should also be collaborative and supported by the data in your applicant tracking software.

4. Post-interview feedback

The number one pain point for candidates during the hiring process is the wait for post-interview feedback. CareerBuilder’s 2017 Candidate Experience survey found that 80% of candidates receive no feedback after an interview. Providing feedback offers two key benefits:

  • It helps to build relationships with ‘close match’ candidates who can be transferred into your talent pool through your applicant tracking system and contacted for suitable job openings that arise in the future.
  • Providing feedback promotes a better employer brand. Candidates take to social media to vocalize their frustration with a flawed hiring process. Consistently poor reviews will deter future talent from applying to your jobs.

Relevant: Top candidate experience survey questions to ask

One extra tip – don’t ‘ghost’ your candidates during the hiring process (‘ghosting’ is the process of abruptly ending all contact with your applicants and often after an interview).

5. Effective onboarding

Onboarding is the final stage of your hiring process. It also marks the final stage of the candidate experience as your new hires transition to their new role. But it’s not the time to lose your focus. An accepted offer no longer guarantees that your new hire will join your company. Multiple job offers and job-hoarding are common trends in today’s labor market.

How you onboard talent plays a critical role in influencing your new hire’s decision to show up on the first day of employment with your organization:

  • 60% of candidates continue to explore open jobs and attend interviews with other employers while they wait for background screening to be completed.
  • 40% of candidates experience a lack of communication after accepting a job offer and prior to their formal start date.

Staying in touch with your new recruit throughout this stage can prevent a no-show on their first day at work. Tracking talent throughout your pipeline and monitoring key metrics (like time to hire) can help the final stage of the process run smoothly.

No hiring process is flawless, but the good news is they can always be improved. Start by understanding your own process. Start by evaluating your hiring experience from a candidate’s perspective. Submit an application to one of your open jobs – then identify the missing steps.

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