The Recruitment and Selection Process of HR

The human resources (HR) recruitment and selection process typically starts with advertising job vacancies and ends with selecting the best candidates to fill those positions. Recruitment steps applicants see include online applicant tracking, preliminary screening, interviewing, reference and background checking, followed by candidate selection. This series of steps is commonly referred as the recruitment process; however, human resources professionals use terms like “talent acquisition” and “talent management” to describe strategically developed recruitment and selection processes.

Online Applicant Tracking

Recruitment begins with behind-the-scenes strategic planning for workforce development and continues long past the retirement and resignation. However, the first step applicants see is generally the online application process. An applicant tracking system (ATS) prompts applicants to input their personal information and work history in designated fields. The system then parses applicant descriptions of their duties, tasks and responsibilities, and matches certain keywords and identifies applicants who meet the basic requirements for each job. Recruiters can use applicant tracking technology to identify candidates, schedule interviews and extract equal employment opportunity (EEO) data for reporting purposes.

Internal Recruiting

Internal recruiting methods vary slightly. Job vacancy postings throughout the workplace may precede external advertising to give current employees an opportunity to express their interest in job openings before external candidates. Some employers have workplace policies regarding promotions and transfers -- for example, some companies require that employees be in their current jobs for at least six months before they are eligible for a transfer.

Preliminary Screening

Preliminary screening is the next step in HR’s recruitment process. Recruiters and employment specialists conduct preliminary screening through telephone interviews used to verify work history and basic qualifications and skills. A telephone interview is the first point at which an employer expresses its interest in a candidate. The telephone interview also is the first chance an employer’s representative has to make a good impression on prospective employees. Therefore, employers who want to improve their business reputation use preliminary screening opportunities to suggest that they’re employers of choice and companies for whom applicants are excited about being considered for employment.


For many jobs, candidates go through two interview stages after the preliminary screening. The first interview stage involves a face-to-face interview with either the recruiter or manager. The next stage may be with a hiring manager or high-level executive, depending on the position. Interviewers use a combination of methods to determine the candidate who appears to be a good fit for the job and the organization. In addition, interview responses shed light on candidates’ ability to perform the actual job duties and articulate their skills and qualifications. Whenever there’s a panel interview, interviewers generally reach a consensus on the candidate whose qualifications and ethics match the job requirements as well as the organizational philosophy.


The recruitment process concludes with selection of a suitably qualified candidate. The actual selection process consists of more than extending an employment offer. In some circumstances, negotiations for a compensation and benefits package ensue after the employer extends an offer. In many cases, employers conduct background investigations and reference checks to ensure they’re making a wise hiring decision. In the event the first candidate doesn’t successfully pass the background check or if the reference check reveals information that suggests hiring managers should take a look at other candidates, notes from interviews with other candidates come in handy.



About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.