Recruitment vs selection in the hiring process

Steve Jobs once said, “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” Some might think that other factors contributed to Jobs’ success, but when the co-founder of one of the world’s most valuable companies acknowledges the importance of hiring great people, so should you.

Effective recruitment and selection bring talented, hard-working people into your organisation. Although they represent different stages of the hiring process, each step is equally important in finding the right people for the job.

The importance of recruitment and selection cannot be overstated. Estimates on the average cost of a bad hire is generally between 30% and 50% of an employee’s first-year earnings. That’s a lot of money – on top of the potential lost productivity, impaired customer relationships, reputational damage, additional supervision required and disruption to your teams.

So what are recruitment and selection, and what role do they play in finding you the best possible talent?

What is the difference between recruiting and selecting employees?

Recruitment is the first step in the process of hiring new employees and consists of getting people to apply for your vacancy. Essentially, it’s about searching for prospective staff while making it easier for them to find you. This increases the pool of candidates from which will then be whittled down during the next step, the selection process. 

Compared to selection, recruiting is a more comprehensive and more economical process. It may involve some degree of selection as candidates are shortlisted to reduce the candidate pool before moving to the selection stage.

In the selection process, the best talent is chosen from among the shortlisted applicants through a more thorough screening process. This process involves interviews, reference checks, more extensive skills testing, and other examinations. Selection is more costly and labour-intensive than recruitment.

The recruitment process: what you need to know

The recruitment process can be summarised in the following main steps.

Step 1: Determining the job requirements

The first step in understanding what type of candidate you need to fill a position is to determine what skills, characteristics, experience, and education are required. This determination will allow you to create an accurate job description, which will be the first filter for applicants.

To do so, HR should ideally conduct or have conducted a job analysis. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, this involves determining the following:

  • Required knowledge, skills and abilities
  • Performance requirements
  • Work behaviours and activities
  • Interactions with internal and external stakeholders
  • Equipment and machinery to be used
  • Working conditions
  • Supervision provided and received

Step 2: Advertising the vacancy

To do this, you need to post a job ad on the appropriate platform. Which platform depends on your business and should state whether it’s an in-office or remote position (or a hybrid). Of course, some general platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google for Jobs exist. Finding the right platform is an important step in finding suitable candidates.

Step3: Handling applicant responses

Some companies approach this step passively, waiting for applicants to send resumes and cover letters. However, you can also actively manage this process through online platforms. Asking applicants to answer some basic qualifying questions before completing their application can help you weed out unsuitable candidates. Gamification, where applicants play a game that tests their skills and knowledge, is a growing trend and a great way to evaluate applicants with less experience or a different professional background.

Step 4: Evaluating applications

Today, an initial screening of applications is largely done using an “Applicant Tracking System” software that matches the job description’s provisions with relevant information in the applicant’s CV and cover letter. Applications that pass this step are evaluated by the HR or talent manager or a committee of pertinent staff. Through this process, a shortlist of applicants is compiled. This stage can also be considered part of the selection process.

The selection process of candidates 

Screening is followed by a series of steps, which essentially involve selection. The order of these may vary depending on the nature of the job and the employer’s preferences.

Step 1: Telephonic or online interviewing

This is a convenient and inexpensive way to weed out unsuitable applicants before inviting them for a face-to-face interview (assuming it’s not a remote position ). An interview helps determine the applicant’s communication skills, attitude, professionalism, and potential fit for your company. This interview should ideally be standardised to eliminate any potential bias.

Step 2: Aptitude testing

Aptitude tests can take different forms depending on the job. Some employers ask applicants to perform a task expected of them in the position. You should realistically structure this task in terms of deliverables and time frame to be effective.

Psychometric testing is one of the best methods for evaluating applicants because it measures their knowledge, skills, and potential against standardised test criteria, eliminating bias and allowing for comparative assessment.

Step 3: In-person interviewing

This allows one to understand an applicant’s personality and skills better. To achieve the best possible outcome for both parties, interview questions should be carefully researched and prepared. First, consider what answer to the question is most likely, and then consider whether or not that answer will provide you with quantifiable information about the applicant’s skills.

As with testing, structured and standardised questions can bring objectivity and fairness to the process, rather than simply relying on connections, shared interests, or gut feelings. Evaluating potential applicants based on the same questions facilitates fair comparison. It also improves hiring diversity by eliminating some biases that reinforce job homogeneity.

Step 4: Verifying the candidate

Applicant screening determines whether an applicant has provided truthful information about their experience and qualifications. It may also include a criminal background check, which is required for some positions. Keep in mind that this is also increasingly subject to legal challenge, with some courts declaring it unlawful to deny employment based on a criminal record. Hiring a reputable third-party vendor to conduct applicant background checks can help navigate some of the potential legal issues.

Step 5: Making a decision and an offer

Once you’ve completed the internal processes to select your ideal candidate, it’s time to make them an offer. It would be best if you had already discussed working hours, salary and bonuses at this stage. You can make an informal offer first to give the candidate time to think and possibly discourage them from looking at other opportunities before sending them a formal job offer.

Need help hiring the right people?

Recruitment is an important and complicated business process that you can make more straightforward and objective through standardised testing. Talent Select  offers a range of psychometric assessments to help companies find the best possible talent. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.