Today’s employers are contending with a labor shortage and skills gaps, while racing to define what the future of work looks like. To efficiently and effectively identify, assess and hire talent, companies are investing in recruitment operations strategies to streamline their recruiting efforts, improve hiring processes, and speed things up. The question is: how?

Adopting a standardized recruitment process checklist is key for any talent acquisition team. Having a set of to-dos in place ensures all team members are on the same page, keeps the hiring process moving, and helps decision-makers find inefficiencies in each recruitment step.

Here’s everything you need to know about creating a hiring checklist:

Why You Need a Recruitment and Selection Process Checklist

  • Operational efficiency and effectiveness matter. Recruitment operations functions are growing in popularity as organizations strive to promote efficiency, effectiveness and success.
  • Technology matters. From AI to mobile, recruiting technologies and analytics are evolving fast, helping to shape and redefine the future of work in hiring.
  • Candidate experience matters. In a tight labor market, a positive candidate experience can mean the difference between winning and losing talent.
  • Compliance matters. From data collection to equal pay to hiring practices and more, a recruiting checklist helps make sure your team is in compliance with the latest human resources legislation.

A Start-to-Finish Recruitment Process Checklist

Everything about recruiting is changing…fast. Following is a checklist to help keep your recruiting and selection efforts up-to-date. While our checklist covers activities to recruit and select talent at the second it was written, you’ll need to account for new trends and technologies that emerge daily. Also keep in mind the order of activities vary by employer, depending on the processes and systems used. For best results, consider customizing our checklist to reflect your organization’s software, systems, processes, protocols and goals.

Step #1: Put a hiring plan in place

Even with automation and AI, there are some hiring activities that warrant face time. Starting the recruiting process is one of them. A little time spent up front with the hiring manager can save a lot of time and effort later.

Set up a planning meeting with the hiring manager and anyone else who may be involved in recruiting to review the job opening, the hiring process and obtain input and agreement before moving forward.

Create an agenda to maximize outcomes. Topics may include:

  • Overview of the hiring process, timeline, goals, roles and accountabilities, budget, and success measures
  • Confirmation that the job requisition is accurate and complete
  • Creating and reviewing the job description and posting

Review, solicit input and finalize:

  • Sourcing: What sources will be used? Any special promotions required?
  • Screening: Who does it and how? Is any pre-employment testing required?
  • Interviewing: Who will be involved? How many rounds? What channels (in-person or video)?
  • Assessment: How will you approach candidate evaluations
  • Offer: Who will make it? How?

Step #2: Identify your main sourcing channels

What sources are you going to use to find candidates? Ask yourself:

  1. How has the job been classified (e.g., part-time, full-time, temp, freelance, contract-to-hire, intern, co-op, job share, or other)? Will your chosen sources help you reach your target audience?
  2. Do you have the budget to use a staffing agency?
  3. Does your organization have partnerships with professional, diversity and educational organizations to reach diverse audiences with specialized skills?
  4.   What other sources are a part of your toolkit (like an employee referral program, social recruiting, job boards, people in your talent community, passive candidates, and more)?
  5.   Which sources have historically proven to have the best return on investment?

Candidate sourcing technology can help you manage and streamline the entire process. Recruiting software lets you post a job in multiple places at once, and AI can help you evaluate the best sources for specialized jobs or requirements.

Step #3: Create and publish your job posting

Once your hiring team has aligned on the skills and qualifications needed for your new role, it’s time to post the job on your company’s career page and job boards.

Creating effective postings is both an art and a science. Job descriptions are your first opportunity to communicate employer brand, and the way your job descriptions are written can have a big impact on who applies (and who doesn’t apply) for the open role.

Tips for writing a stand-out job posting:

  • Include a clear, simple title: You don’t need rock stars or ninjas or wizards — you need highly qualified candidates. If you get cute with titles, you risk missing your audience altogether. If you want serious workers, choose serious job titles.
  • Add an “About Us” section: Here’s your chance to show off your company culture. Offer a short description of your organization that answers the “why” for candidates. Why would they want to work for your company? What can you offer as an employer?
  • Turn “Requirements” into “How You’ll Make an Impact”: Traditional job descriptions have a “Requirements” section that outlines the qualifications a candidate needs in order to be considered for a role. But candidates (especially Gen Z) care more about how they’ll add value to your company rather than what’s required of them. Here’s some inspiration for writing impact-focused job descriptions.

Step #4: Make it easy to apply

While you may think the application process is a no-brainer, it warrants some individual focus. Why? Research shows that if your application process is too lengthy, outdated or cumbersome, many job seekers will just stop and turn their sights elsewhere.

To streamline the process while enhancing the candidate experience, employers are taking a variety of approaches, like eliminating cover letters, replacing lengthy applications with a series of quick online questions, making their application process mobile-friendly and using chatbots.

According to CareerBuilder, 60% of candidates stop filling out an online application that’s too complicated. What’s more, 54% of Gen Z job seekers won’t even complete a job application if they suspect a company’s recruiting methods are outdated.

Step #5: Promote the open position

It’s not enough to “post and pray” anymore. It takes dedicated recruitment marketing efforts to attract talent to your organization, and today’s top employers are getting creative.

Here are a few ideas for promoting your company’s open positions:

  • For high volume positions, include a company culture video alongside job postings to give prospects greater insight into your organization’s culture and the role
  • For positions you hire for frequently, host a regional or virtual recruitment event to catch candidates’ attention and fill your talent pipeline
  • Promote the job to your talent community with automated candidate communications
  • Ask employees to help you market position openings through an employee referral program

Step #6: Screen candidates & create your shortlist

Now that you’ve marketed your open role, hopefully you have a strong pool of job seekers to screen and evaluate. Here’s how to narrow down a shortlist of candidates:

Filter out the ones who don’t match your job requirements, and identify the ones that do (or use technology to do this for you).

Screen: Use the screening techniques selected at your planning meeting to determine which candidates will move forward. If you’re using a phone screen, software can automate scheduling. If you’re looking for a more efficient screening process, think about using pre-recorded video interviews – it’s easier for candidates and more productive for employers.

Review your shortlist with the hiring manager and seek approval to move forward.

Follow up. Let top candidates know that your organization is interested in learning more about them. Don’t forget the job seekers you’re rejecting, too! Communicate that you are moving ahead with other candidates and invite them to join your talent community. Even if they’re not a good fit for your current needs, they might fill an open role in the future.

Step #7: Prepare for the interview

Make sure each person on the interviewing team has the tools they need to be successful in the interview. Share resources like:

  • The job description and a list of key competencies for the open role
  • Candidate applications, resumes, cover letters, and the results of any pre-employment testing
  • A set of interview questions to guide each interviewer’s conversation
  • Training on how to interview candidates, including expectations on professionalism
  • Standard evaluation forms to gauge each candidate’s performance

Step #8: Schedule & conduct interviews

Interview scheduling can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the hiring process, unless you automate it.

Steps to schedule interviews

  • Schedule or have candidates self-schedule interviews
  • Complete any set-up required for video or virtual interviews
  • Take care of interview day logistics (i.e. add candidate to your building security’s visitor list, book interview rooms, plan for any food, refreshments, travel or accommodations, coordinate hand-off from one interviewer to the next, gather company literature, etc.

Prepare your candidates for the interview day

While your organization prepares for the interview, so will your candidates. Make sure applicants know what to expect by sharing a few helpful resources:

  • Share information about your interview process so candidates know what to expect each step of the way.
  • Create an automated communication plan to educate candidates about your company. Share its mission, vision and values, a company culture video, recent press releases and more.
  • Offer directions to your office, parking instructions, where to go upon arrival, security check-in procedures, and suggested dress code.
  • Share a list of interviewers each candidate will be meeting, and include a link to each employee’s LinkedIn profile.

Candidates know they are in the driver’s seat, and expect to be courted before they accept a position. Their interview experience will inform their thoughts about what life looks like at your organization. So, make sure the interview team brings their A game. Check out our Interview Process Guide for more tips on optimizing your interview plan.

Recruiters spend 2/3 of their overall hiring time on the interview process. Here’s how they’re streamlining the process:

Learn more

Step #9: Assess candidates

Once the interview team has met with the candidates, it’s time to assess each one and move to the final decision-making stage.

  • Encourage interviewers to complete a candidate evaluation form as soon as possible after the interview, while details are top of mind.
  • Gather completed assessments, compile and share outcomes. If needed, hold a meeting to discuss.
  • To streamline, consider using software to manage candidate evaluations.
  • Agree on whether a candidate will move forward in the process.

Step #10: Communicate with candidates post-interview

Keep candidates engaged and informed regardless of the interview outcome (CRM solutions can help):

  • Update candidates on next steps in the interview process
  •  Inform accepted candidates that they are moving on in the process
  • Invite rejected candidates to join your talent community

Research shows candidates feel the most frustrating part of the job search is waiting to hear back from a recruiter after an interview. Never let more than a week go by without communicating with a candidate, even if it’s just to let them know you’re still waiting on a final decision.

Step #11: Make an offer and close the deal

Based on the assessment process, the hiring team should select the top candidate (and a backup should the top candidate pass on the job).

  • Create an offer, including salary, start date, and terms and conditions of employment. This may involve working with compensation, benefits and employment policy staff.
  • Obtain approval of the offer from the hiring manager and leadership.
  • Identify which elements of the offer are negotiable and which ones are not.
  • Have the hiring manager or lead recruiter make the offer over the phone, and follow up with a written offer via email.
  • Obtain the candidate’s signature on the final offer.
  • Let your new hire know what’s next, and what to expect on the first day.
  • Let the backup candidate know the outcome and maintain a good relationship. You never know when another opportunity suited to his/her skills will come along.

Step #12: Prepare pre-boarding materials

At some time during the hiring process, you’ll likely conduct background and reference checks. This may include a criminal record check, employment history, credit check, review of social media accounts, drug testing, pre-employment physical, eligibility to work forms, and more.

Once everything checks out, consider using the time between acceptance of offer and start date to help your new employee get off to a smooth start (and not be buried in paperwork his/her first day). Provide paperwork for NDAs, tax withholdings, benefit elections, direct deposit, corporate credit card, business cards, etc. Also start the process of reserving office space and equipment for your new employee.

Step #13: Conduct new employee onboarding

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the hiring process and have a new team member to show for it. Now it’s time for employee onboarding, a separate but equally important process to engage and nurture your new employee.

On the first day:

Don’t make it a procedure. Focus on personal connections on day one — not paperwork and benefits presentations. Those things are necessary, but if they can wait until later in the week, do so. Instead, think about what you can do to immediately make new hires feel like a part of the team. Hang a welcome sign on their desk with some company swag. Schedule lunch with the team. Introduce them with a company-wide email.

During the first week and beyond:

Make sure new employees meet the right people. Set up meetings with key representatives from each department so that employees know who to contact when they have questions about each area of the business.

Have a 30/60/90 day plan. Give candidates a concrete picture of what they’ll be working on in their first three months at the company by having a 30/60/90-day plan prepared for them. Work with hiring managers to compile realistic expectations for what new hires should accomplish in their early days on the job.

Step #14: Analyze results

After successfully hiring an employee, go back to the goals and success measures defined at the planning meeting to determine what’s working and should continue and identify improvement opportunities. Ask the hiring manager and new employee for feedback. Consider how technology can help streamline hiring activities, boost productivity and free you up to focus on what’s really important: nurturing candidates and relationships to drive hiring success.

More than one out of every three recruiters indicate they don’t have enough time to engage candidates.

By following a step-by-step guide each time your organization hires a new candidate, you’ll be able to streamline processes, ensure the whole team is on the same page, and identify where your hiring process can improve.