When it comes to business, recruitment means recognizing you have a position that needs to be filled, identifying the duties of the job, creating a list of requirements for those hoping to fill the vacancy, deciding how and where to source recruits for the position and actually attracting people to apply for the position. Selection means going through those resumes to find qualified applicants, conducting interviews, shortlisting candidates and finally, choosing the right person for the job.


The simplest recruitment and selection meaning is simply seeking someone to fill a post and then picking the right candidate from the applicants.

Recruitment and Selection Definition

While these concepts could mean a wide array of things in different contexts, in the business world, a basic recruitment and selection definition would simply be the process of finding and attracting applicants to fill a vacant position and then choosing the right applicant for the job.

While the definition itself may sound fairly simplistic, the actual process is much more complicated, as just getting candidates isn't enough, you must get the right candidates who will not only be able to do the job, but do it with the right attitude and, ideally, do it while fitting in with your overall company culture. In fact, recruitment and selection is easily one of the, if not the, most important role of human resource management (HRM).

Define Recruitment and Selection Process in HRM

The definition of recruitment in HRM goes beyond just trying to get people to apply for a vacant position. It also involves recognizing that a position is available, analyzing the job requirements, writing the job listing, advertising the job listing to the right candidate pool and then collecting applications. If you go on to define the recruitment and selection process in HRM, the selection part of the process includes screening the applicants, performing interviews, shortlisting the most qualified candidate and finally, selecting the best person for the job.

While the recruitment and selection process can be looked at as the entire process of identifying and filling a position, each part is drastically different. Recruitment attempts to get a large pool of candidates to apply for the job so you have a sufficient number of applicants to choose from, but selection aims to sift through this pool to find one person who is the best fit from all the applicants.

Identifying Vacancies or New Positions

The first step of the entire recruitment process is to identify that you either have a vacancy that needs to be filled or that you need to create a new position and fill it. In larger companies, this often begins with the HR department receiving a requisition for recruitment document that states the number of positions to be filled, the duties and responsibilities necessary for the positions and the desired qualifications and experience for the new employee.

The sourcing manager must then determine if the position is required, and, if so, if it should be full-time, part-time, permanent or temporary.

Job Analysis and Evaluation

While many details about a job are answered simply by recognizing that there's a position that needs to be filled, a thorough job analysis is required to identify the full scope of duties, responsibilities, work environment, skills, abilities and qualifications required for a specific job.

Be sure to take into account any useful information gleaned from the last employee's exit interview. These details are critical not just for creating job descriptions and person specifications, but also determining pay, benefits, training, performance appraisals, recruitment methods and interview questions.

Once you have completed the analysis, this information can be used in an evaluation to determine a fair pay range for the position based on comparative pay to people in similar positions within your company and within the industry, particularly in your local area.

Job Description and Person Specifications

The analysis makes it possible to create the job description and specifications, which you need to have in order to create job listings. Once you know everything a person is required to do in a role and what special tools they will need to do these things, it's important to write these details out in a clear way that can be used to help recruit the right candidate. Be sure to write any relevant details you think an applicant should be aware of, which may include:

  • The job title.
  • The job location.
  • A basic summary of the job.
  • Specific job duties.
  • Any specific machines, materials or equipment required to do the job.
  • Any notable working conditions or health hazards.
  • Who the employee will be reporting to.

While the job description details everything important to know about the position, the person specifications detail everything you should know about the required traits of applicants for the job. Important details should include:

  • Qualifications.
  • Work experience requirements.
  • Desired training.
  • Expected skills.
  • Emotional or personality traits that might make a person a match.
  • Responsibilities necessary for the new position.

The Recruitment Strategy

After the job description and specifications are complete, you can move onto the next step of the process, which is the strategy you will use to recruit the right candidates. This means considering whether you want to source internally, externally or both, and, once you've made that decision, how to move forward. However you choose to do the recruitment process, your strategy should ensure that the process is performed in a clear, fair, unbiased, transparent and professional manner.

Internal Recruitment Sourcing

When you recruit internally, it means you're looking for people who are now or have been part of the company, people who previously applied or people referred by someone in the company. In other words, internal recruitment sources include promotions, transfers, former employees, previous applicants, people who submitted applications to be kept on file for future opportunities, employee referrals and internal job postings.

There are many benefits to internal recruitment, including increased employee loyalty, improved morale, the opportunity for upward mobility and certainty the person who fills the new position is already familiar with and comfortable with your company culture.

On the other hand, by hiring internally, you will likely still need to train the new employee, you will be limiting your applicant pool and may exclude particularly talented candidates and you will usually still need to fill the position previously occupied by the person hired for the new position. In many cases, you can get the best of both worlds by recruiting both internally and externally and giving some small preference to existing or former employees.

External Recruiting Sources

Most open positions are filled through external recruitment sources. These may include direct recruitment, employment agencies, professional associations, employment exchanges, job fairs, campus recruitment, word of mouth and, most commonly, advertisements.

If you choose to publicly recruit for the position on your company website, job search websites, local classifieds or other sources, you will need to write a job listing ad based on the job description and person specifications. You may need to write slightly different messaging for different placements as some places may limit the amount of space or characters you can use.

Always have another colleague experienced in HR proofread your advertisement to ensure it is not only free from grammatical or spelling errors, but also free from anything that could be seen as even potentially discriminatory in the text, as even a small mistake could open you up to legal troubles if someone believes it is prejudiced in a way that violates the law.

Reviewing Job Applications

Once applications start coming in, you have moved from the recruitment part of the process to the selection aspect. Many companies receive too many resumes to actually look at each of them individually, so they will use software to help select candidates with specific keywords in their resumes to move on to human evaluations. Even when every resume is reviewed by a person, it's common for the initial review to involve little more than a quick scroll-through for desired training and experience.

After this initial screening, applicant resumes and cover letters are then further screened to ensure their education, work experience and background are suited to the job. Aside from insufficient qualifications, screeners may also disqualify candidates with a history of job-hopping, long gaps in employment, unprofessional resumes or cover letters and a lack of career progression, although these are not always good grounds for exclusion.

Some hiring managers also choose to call the references listed on resumes at this stage, although most prefer to wait until they have at least identified the top candidates.

Initial Interviews and Job Tests

After the resumes have been sifted through and qualified candidates have been identified, the company should then perform an initial interview. In most cases, a quick interview over the phone or on a video chat service can suffice in order to avoid wasting time for both the candidate and the hiring manager. This initial interview can help verify that the candidates are still available and it also ensures they have the right attitude for the position, that they are able to answer questions on the spot and that they have sufficient communication skills to perform their necessary duties.

If your company has any skills tests, this is a good time to administer them, although it is advisable to avoid giving them to anyone who failed their initial interview. This can prevent wasting time and it can also help prevent any applicants who feel frustrated with your screening process from sharing the tests online or sharing negative information about your hiring process.

Shortlisting Top Candidates

After the initial interviews are completed, it is important to shortlist the top five to 10 candidates based on their resumes/cover letters, experience, skills tests, references, initial interviews and any other relevant information. This information, any notes on the candidates and recommendations should be presented to the hiring manager to help her make a final decision on the right candidate.

Final Interview Rounds

Once the hiring manager has a list of no more than 10 candidates, he should perform an in-person interview with all candidates, unless the job is remote or any top candidates have a legitimate reason for being unable to make an interview, for example, living abroad and needing a visa. The manager that will be overseeing the new employee should be present as well as any department heads or other persons she may report directly to.

Finalizing the Hiring Process

After the final interviews have been completed, the hiring manager may make his final choice after talking to anyone else who participated in the final interview. If the job requires any medical clearances, physical exams or drug tests, these should be completed at this point. The candidate's references should also be checked, if they were not already. If everything comes back clear, the candidate can be sent a job offer and compensation negotiations can begin.

Evaluation and Control

Once the position is filled, the final stage begins wherein the actual hiring process is evaluated for effectiveness. Because recruitment is expensive and takes time, it is important to consider if it could be improved in some way. Review the amount of time the vacancy remained unfilled, administrative expenses, salaries to recruiters, advertising costs, agency fees and the time spent in preparing the job analysis, job description, person specifications and interviews.

Finally, ask if the process was effective or if there was any way the time and expenses spent filling the position could be reduced.