The recruitment and selection process consists of a collection of steps that employers use to attract qualified applicants, identify viable candidates and make hiring decisions to create a productive workforce. The process and the end goal are the same for small businesses and large corporations alike. However, recruitment and selection can be particularly challenging for businesses with limited resources. In this case, employers must address tangible and intangible aspects in building an employee base.

Attracting Applicants

The first challenge employers face in the recruitment and selection process is sourcing applicants or finding people who will apply for jobs. Posting jobs online, buying ad space in newspapers and signing up for career fairs are some low-cost methods to finding applicants who are active job seekers. Depending on the position and the company's budget, some employers conduct targeted searches or nationwide searches, especially for highly specialized positions or to locate a uniquely qualified candidate. Targeted searches for passive candidates include engaging the services of a headhunter for recruiting passive candidates for senior-level and above leadership roles. Passive candidates are those who aren't actively looking for employment but who could be persuaded to join another firm, based on persuasive factors such as prestige, authority, compensation and perks.

Application Process

Online application processes, one of the components of applicant tracking systems are convenient and -- sometimes -- budget-friendly methods for accepting applications. An ATS prevents the need for applicants to complete applications in person and creates a way for an employer to review resumes and cover letters before calling the applicants for preliminary telephone screening interviews. Based on how sophisticated the ATS is, integrating it into the company's website is a topic for consideration.


Many employers use telephone interviews to conduct preliminary screening. Recruiters spend about 20 to 30 minutes asking applicants about their work history and basic qualifications to narrow down to a manageable number of candidates for face-to-face interviews with a recruiter or the hiring manager. Telephone interviews save time and money for both the company and the applicant. Plus, with the number of long-distance job searches, telephone interviews save employers large sums; they bring in only highly qualified candidates for in-person interviews. Employers sometimes schedule informal telephone conversations with a few applicants who have submitted resumes or applications.


Recruiters have expertise in human resources best practices and strategic workforce development; hiring managers have functional expertise in their respective fields, and they know the professional characteristics they believe make sense in terms of the organization's culture. Wise hiring decisions require clear communication between recruiters and hiring managers. In small organizations that don't have dedicated HR departments or recruiters on staff, the hiring manager conducts the interview process from start to finish. The size of the company might determine how many interviews are conducted before making a hiring decision. During the initial stages of the recruitment process, hiring managers tell recruiters what positions they need to fill. Throughout the selection process, recruiters lend expertise to hiring managers in areas such as interviewing techniques and the types of questions best suited for specific jobs.

Pre-Employment Matters

Background investigations, reference checking, drug testing and pre-employment assessments generally are within the recruiters' purview. After the hiring manager makes her selection -- often, there are two final candidates in case one doesn't pass the pre-employment steps -- the recruiter extends the job offer and conducts the next steps to prepare for hiring a new employee. Small businesses often realize cost savings when they outsource these final steps in vetting candidates.