People & Leadership

15 steps for an effective recruitment process

You need an effective recruitment process to move quickly and hire top talent. Here are the 15 steps to follow.

The recruitment process may be the first time a prospective employee interacts with your business.

Does your hiring process make a great first impression? Unfortunately the current market stats leave a lot to be desired.

A recent study by talent insight company SHL reported the number of negative hiring experiences shared on platforms such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor have doubled since 2020 and 42% of candidates in the study declined job offers as a result of a bad experience.

The good news is you can stand out from the crowd by differentiating your business with a robust recruitment strategy.

In this article, we break down the 15 steps of a solid and effective recruitment system, so you can attract and retain top talent.

Here’s what we cover:

What is involved in the recruitment process?

Recruiting involves identifying, attracting, assessing, and hiring qualified candidates to meet staffing needs within an organisation.

It requires collaboration between hiring managers, the HR team, recruiters, senior management and financial leaders to ensure recruitment efforts are aligned with the organisation’s goals.

Effective recruiting also relies on a strong business brand to attract the talent needed to drive innovation, growth, and success.

15 steps for an effective recruitment process

1. Invest in recruitment software

HR software can significantly streamline the entire process by using smart AI tools to automate many of the time-consuming admin tasks, such as applicant tracking, interview scheduling and managing communications.

Cutting down on the number of manual tasks means you can spend more time getting to know the candidates.

2. Identify hiring needs

It’s relatively simple to establish the requirements of a role when you are replacing an employee who has left.

It gets more difficult when you’re building out brand new roles, and requires you to spend time identifying the organisation’s current and upcoming needs.

Here are a few ways you can identify where new hires are needed in the organisation:

  • Consider any upcoming organisational changes, such as expansions, restructures, or new projects that may impact staffing requirements
  • Assess the workload of existing employees and departments, look for signs of overwork, burnout or inefficiency
  • Collaborate with department managers and team leaders to understand their staffing needs and challenges
  • Monitor turnover rates and reasons for employee departures. High turnover in certain positions may indicate a need to amend a role’s responsibilities or improve retention strategies.

3. Develop the job description

A good job description is essential for hiring the right person for the job.

Therefore, it’s vital for the HR team to work with the new hire’s manager to ensure the description accurately reflects the role.

A well crafted job description should include:

  • Job title
  • A brief company overview, including its mission, values, and culture to give candidates a better understanding of the company
  • The role’s purpose and objectives
  • A clear and concise list of job responsibilities
  • The physical location of the position, whether it’s at a specific office, remote, or a hybrid role.
  • The required qualifications, skills, experience, and education necessary to perform the job effectively ,such as certifications, degrees, or relevant work experience.
  • Optional qualifications that would be beneficial but not necessarily required for the position
  • A statement affirming the organisation’s commitment to equal employment opportunity and diversity
  • Information about salary range, benefits package, and any additional incentives offered by the organisation.

4. Determine the recruitment strategy

Before you launch your search, it’s important to establish your strategy.

You can enjoy a more efficient process when team members are on the same page and understand their roles.

During the planning stage, you can:

  • Strategise the best platforms for getting the word out
  • Identify target deadlines
  • Decide who is responsible for each step including outreach, reviewing CVs and conducting phone screenings.

5. Advertise the job role

Now you’re ready to advertise, you can post job ads directly on job sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed or employ recruitment agencies to help you source and screen candidates.

There may also be industry-specific websites where you can target candidates with specialised skills.

Utilise your company’s social media channels, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, X (Twitter), and Instagram to share job openings and encourage your employees to do the same to reach a wider audience.

Having a dedicated careers page on your company website where you can post job openings is also beneficial, as those who are job hunting in niche industries will likely search company websites for updates.

Consider establishing an employee referral programme as another channel for advertising open roles.

Rewards provide that extra incentive to your employees to spread the word about new job openings with their networks.

Employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate among all recruiting sources (around 40%), according to Gitnux 2024 market data.

6. Screen applications

Reviewing applications and reading CVs can be the most time-consuming part of recruiting.

As we mentioned earlier, HR software has many helpful tools that can save you time in this area, taking on jobs such as:

  • Scanning resumes and cover letters for specific keywords or phrases related to job requirements. This helps to quickly identify candidates whose qualifications and experience closely match the job criteria. They can also automatically filter out unqualified candidates based on predefined criteria such as location, salary expectations, or availability.
  • Automatically extracting relevant information from resumes, such as education, work experience and contact details to populate candidate profiles or databases.
  • Assigning scores or ratings to candidates based on their match with job requirements, assessment results, or other criteria to help objectively evaluate candidates.

7. Conduct phone screenings

The best candidates will likely have multiple companies reaching out and are at risk of moving on to other opportunities.

So when it comes to following up candidates, speed counts.

Phone screenings are a great way to interview a large number of candidates in a short space of time.

They require much less time to arrange than in-person interviews but still provide an opportunity to assess candidates’ communication skills.

A phone interview also gives the opportunity to ask a few more targeted questions to understand candidates’ suitability before you make a shortlist.

8. Schedule interviews

Now you have narrowed down the list of candidates via the initial phone screening, it’s time to arrange in-depth interviews with the business leaders.

You can arrange interviews as video calls or in-person meetings but either way, you ideally want to move quickly and arrange the interview within a week of the phone screening.

This will require some forward planning with the team members who are conducting the interviews, so they can make time in their schedules.

9. Conduct interviews

Ensure everyone involved provides written feedback, including observations and any concerns raised during the interview (this is especially helpful if you are comparing several rounds of interviews).

Having a mix of interview techniques, such as behavioural interviews and situational interviews, will help provide a full picture in order to make an informed decision.

After an interview, keep candidates in the loop and fully informed about how many rounds of interviews there are and the time frame for making a decision.

It’s good practice to follow up with each candidate once the decision has been made, even if they are not the right fit.

10. Make a final selection

It’s time to make the final selection.

Choosing the right candidate involves assessing multiple criteria such as their fit with the organisational culture and team dynamics, comparing qualifications, experience and skills of the candidates, and their potential for growth and development.

It’s useful to assign weights to different selection criteria based on their importance to the role.

This helps ensure the selection decision is based on the most relevant criteria.

For example, when hiring for an entry level position, the candidates’ work experience should be given less weight than factors such as cultural fit and development potential.

11. Extend job offer

So you’ve come to an agreement and are ready to make an offer.

You’ll need to present your offer in writing, providing the necessary information about the role including job title, pay rate and work schedule.

The candidate may be considering multiple offers, so consider highlighting the benefits of the role as well in your offer, for example training programmes, health and wellness benefits, and flexible working arrangements.

You’ll also need to be prepared to negotiate the terms like salary with the candidate.

12. Conduct background checks

Congratulations, the offer has been accepted. But the work doesn’t end here.

The next step is to conduct the relevant reference and background checks as soon as possible.

Don’t forget to factor these checks into the new hire’s start date, as it can take at least a week to contact references, receive criminal record results and to verify education credentials.

13. Complete new hire paperwork

At this stage, there is a lot of information to gather from the new hire to process and put on file, including:

  • P45 from the previous employer, if applicable, or a P46 starter checklist
  • Proof of right to work such as passport, biometric residence permit, or visa
  • Signed employment contract
  • National Insurance number
  • Bank account details.

You don’t want to overwhelm them with documents but providing the new employee with company employment policies and relevant health and safety documents ahead of time gives them the chance to review them before their start date.

14. Onboard

The new hire’s start date has arrived.

The first day will generally begin with a welcome, team introductions and orientation, workspace setup, and a review of policies and procedures.

Onboarding remote employees will require different steps to those working on-site, so establishing a customised onboarding programme will help these employees get the most out of it.

Assigning the new starter a specific person who can act as a mentor or buddy can help them feel more comfortable asking questions while they learn the ropes.

15. Feedback

Taking the time to review your data will give you valuable insight into your performance.

Use people analytics to reflect on the process and see where you can improve and refine your future hires.

A data analytics system can help you understand the quality of candidates you receive and where the best candidates have come from.

What is full lifecycle recruiting?

Full lifecycle recruiting, also known as end-to-end recruiting, refers to the entire process of hiring candidates from start to finish.

It covers all of the above steps, from identifying hiring needs to making a final hiring decision and onboarding the successful candidate.

The recruiting lifecycle is typically divided into six stages:

  1. Preparation: This stage involves organisation planning, promoting your brand, analysing job requirements, and consulting with hiring managers to write job descriptions.
  2. Sourcing: Now the team is actively sourcing candidates using a combination of job ads, social media, networking, employee referrals and recruitment agencies. The goal is to attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates who match the requirements of the job.
  3. Screening: During this stage, the HR team reviews applications and conducts phone screenings. They may also run skills assessments or other evaluations to check the candidates’ suitability.
  4. Selection: Once the candidates have been shortlisted, various leaders in the organisation conduct in-depth interviews to assess their competencies, motivations, and cultural fit.
  5. Hiring: Once a suitable candidate has been chosen, the business extends a job offer and there may be negotiations on the contract terms and conditions.
  6. Onboarding: The final stage of the cycle involves welcoming the new hire to the organisation and providing the necessary orientation, training, and support to set them up for success in their new role.

Final thoughts on the recruitment process

By thinking in terms of the recruiting lifecycle, you get to see how each step contributes to the full picture.

With a holistic approach, you can ensure there are no areas of the recruitment process that are letting you down.

The end goal is always to provide a consistent and reliable experience for every candidate, so they can transform into highly valued, long-term employees.