How to Build a Recruitment Process to Hire Top Talent

A company is only as exceptional as the people in it, and to get exceptional people a strong recruitment process is a must.Whether you’re building a recruitment process for the first time or want to optimize a current one, here are some guidelines and additional resources.

1. Understand your needs

Writing a job description ? Stop right there!

Before you even think about putting metaphorical pen to paper, the first step in any recruitment process is to figure out what exactly you need. Which candidate skills and qualities are a must Nice to haves ?

Do you know the role like the back of your hand ? 

Don’t give us that look, this step isn’t exhilarating but, it will make you a more effective recruiter during every other part of the process. It will help you :

  • Write a differentiated job description that gets the right talent engaged and excited.
  • Proactively source qualified candidates.
  • Set realistic expectations with your hiring manager (because no candidate is perfect).
  • Sell candidates at every touchpoint.
  • Pass appropriate candidates to onsites and save your entire team valuable time.
  • And all in all, reduce your time to hire while increasing your quality of hire (yes, you CAN have your cake and eat it too).

2. Write a job description class

72 percent of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36 percent of candidates say the same.

Job descriptions, or impact descriptions as we call them at KY&Y Consulting, shouldn’t just collect resumes. They should be tools that get candidates excited about a role, and that recruiters can use as sales ammunition throughout the rest of the recruitment process.

The average job description is an undifferentiated bucket list of skills. Effective impact descriptions, on the other hand, should be unique to your company and highlight results and impact, rather than requirements. so you get the right talent excited to jump in to the challenges of the role. Paint a picture of what the role entails and what success will look like, remove arbitrary requirements (like pedigree, years of experience and skills that can be learned on the job) and don’t be afraid to strike a casual tone so your candidates perceive you as friendly human.

3. Build your talent pipeline

There are many ways to build your talent pipeline. Traditionally, recruiters attract applicants via their company careers page or through job boards. As the market for talent has intensified, companies have dedicated more and more resources to employee referral programs and proactive candidate sourcing.

In fact, our recent recruiting benchmarks research showed that almost half of all hires are either proactively sourced (31 percent of hires) or referred (16 percent).

Careers page

Is your careers page dressed to impress ? Every interaction with a candidate even the ones before a recruiter is in touch is a chance to convince them that your company is the place they want to work.

Here are a few ways to make your careers page work as a tool to attract top talent :
  • Make it mobile optimized. 9 in 10 job seekers report that they are likely to search for jobs via mobile.
  • Make it easy to apply. Does your applicant tracking system make candidates jump through a million hoops before hitting submit ? Candidates, especially the best ones, might lose patience and abandon your process.
  • Showcase your culture. Candidates want to know what it would be like to work at your company. Help them see with photos, videos, information about your mission and values, fun employee facts, etc. This is where you get creative! Some careers pages we like :

Job boards

Companies use job boards to post their openings and increase visibility to candidates. Two of the most well known are Monster and Indeed, but there are dozens more, including specialized ones, like Dice for tech talent or eFinancialCareers for jobs in finance, banking, accounting and insurance.

And there are hundreds more. The Muse is a modern job board geared toward younger talent that works with employers to showcase each company's employer brand. Hired works like a reverse job board and lets companies approach candidates who have profiles on the website about offers, a job board for tech talent, facilitates introductions for companies and candidates who express mutual interest.

It’s worth doing some research and experimentation to find out which job boards are the best for your company. Don’t assume more is better : if you choose job boards that don’t yield quality candidates, you’ll simply have more noise to deal with.

Employee referral program
Employee referrals are widely recognized as the top source of hire, for their faster time to hire, lower cost per hire and higher retention compared to other sources. If you invest in building a strong employee referral program, it’s reasonable to expect your offer and offer acceptance rate to go up and your attrition rate go down. 

4. Conduct interviews

Phone interview
The initial phone interview is typically conducted by the recruiter for the role for high priority candidates. However, it can help to have the hiring manager take the call. The purpose of a phone interview is to make sure that you advance appropriate and qualified people to the next stage. Are there any glaring red flags ? Do they have the right motivations fit ? Do they they meet the baseline “must haves” that you and your hiring manager decided upon at the beginning of the process ? Are compensation expectations in the ballpark ?

Onsite interview

The onsite interview is perhaps the most make or break moment of the entire recruitment process. This is when you get the information you need to say goodbye to a candidate or extend them an offer to become part of your team. It’s critical therefore, to structure your interview process. Here are some pointers :

  • Establish what you are looking for in a candidate before they come in.
    The benefit : If you are deciding between two candidates, you can reduce the effects of unconscious bias with an objective framework for evaluation.
  • Ask interviewers to evaluate for different areas culture fit, skills fit, etc.
    The benefit : You’ll get the information you need in order to make an informed decision, and give the candidate a positive, professional experience.
  • Standardize your questions.
    The benefit : Asking every candidate you interview the same or similar questions lets you more objectively compare them. Of course, allow fluidity here. Running down a checklist of questions instead of letting a conversation flow naturally can inhibit you from discovering valuable information and forming a meaningful connection. Use your best judgment.
  • Use an applicant tracking system.
    The benefit : A tool saves you time and helps you create scalable, repeatable processes. Schedule interviews on an interviewer’s calendar right from within tools, and schedule automatic reminders so an interview doesn’t go forgotten again. Use our interview kits to set up forms for different jobs, provide guidance to interviewers on what they should look for, and even give them the right questions to ask.
Interview feedback and decision

It’s important to collect interview feedback quickly. Right after an interview is when information is freshest in everybody’s mind, and the ability to make a quick decision and get an offer out is a competitive advantage. Ask interviewers to take notes during their interviews and submit feedback via your chosen tool.

Reference checks

Ready to make an offer? Resist the urge until you've done thorough reference checks. The cost of hiring a mediocre performer into your organization is great, and it’s ultimately in your team’s best interest to take reference checks seriously. But to make reference checks worth your while, make sure you're asking the right questions. It's hard to get the full picture from references unless you do some digging, so for questions that help you discover a candidate's true caliber, read our post on example reference check questions.


Once you’ve made a decision to extend an offer to a candidate, you want to move fast. You don’t want to risk another company coming in with a competing offer, and moving quickly makes it clear to the candidate that you are excited to welcome them to the team.

When you extend the offer, make sure not to rush through the information. Take pauses and gauge their reaction. If you know the candidate will need a hard sell, try opening the conversation with questions to find out what reservations they might still have instead of jumping straight to the offer. Use the motivations information you gathered throughout the interview process like why they’re excited about your company and what they’re looking for in their next job to remind them why your offer is a good fit. It can also be helpful to have the candidate chat with the hiring manager and ask interviewers to send follow up emails for an extra touch.

5. Manage talent relationships

A modern recruiting process has to be agile and flexible enough to adapt to non linear events. For example, you may source a candidate who won’t be ready to think about new opportunities for another year or turn a candidate down but find a new role they’re a better fit for a few months down the line. How are you keeping tabs on those candidates ?

Top talent isn’t knocking on doors, so recruiters today have to be smart and strategic taking advantage of and nurturing the relationships they already have. Here are a few tips for building strong relationships with candidates who need the long sell :

  • Set up a Alert for the candidate’s name so you can reach out at meaningful times. Keep close tabs on why you archive a candidate (compensation, timing, seniority, etc.) With a system, you can track and customize archive reasons easily.
  • Set reminders to follow up with candidates at a later date, when their circumstances may have changed. You can also achieve this easily in Lever with the “snooze” function. Snooze a candidate to receive an email reminder to follow up, along with any note you left yourself.

6. Measure your success

What are you doing to make sure your process is continually improving? Increasingly, recruiters are turning to data and analytics to find out where and how they can do better. Important recruiting metrics to track include:

Source of hire

When you know which sources lead to quality candidates, you can double down your efforts in the right places. If you can see that one source accounts for a small portion of your total pipeline for example, but a large portion of total hires and offers, it makes sense to invest more of your efforts in that source. 

Candidate to hire ratio

By understanding past data, you’ll get a sense for how many candidates you need in your pipeline to fill the position at hand.

Conversion funnel

Understanding conversion rates at each stage of the process helps you ask the right questions to spot opportunities for improvement. For example, why aren’t candidates accepting your offers and how can you improve ? Alternately, if there’s no drop off between two stages are you asking the appropriate questions to effectively screen candidates?

Time to hire

What matters most in recruiting is ultimately how quickly you can make a hire (without lowering your hiring bar). Track your time to hire from the time a candidate is engaged to the time they sign an offer letter to measure the overall efficiency of your recruitment process.

7. Provide a positive candidate experience

The need for a great candidate experience is present throughout every inch of the recruitment process and can make or break whether a candidate decides to join your team.

Candidate experience starts before candidates are even candidates. The “pre-candidate experience” includes anything that can shape and inform their opinion of you as a company like mentions in the Press, Glassdoor reviews, your careers page, word of mouth and application process (do you make them jump through dozens of hoops just to apply ?).

Once a candidate is in your system, how long does it take you to get in touch ? Does the candidate feel welcome when they come onsite ? Are your interviews professional and organized ?

Top candidates are evaluating you as much as you’re evaluating them, so it’s important to make candidate experience a priority. To ensure that you’re continually improving your process, consider asking candidates informally or more formally via a survey for their feedback.