Steps in the recruitment process

The following figure outlines the important steps involved in the recruitment process. These steps are briefly described below.

Diagram of recruitment process

Form Selection Committee

Selection committees generally consist of a minimum of two members but not more than four persons, including the chairperson.

Members of a selection committee should be chosen on the basis of their objectivity, professionalism and ability to exercise good judgment in selecting the most suitable person for the job vacancy.

Where possible, there should representation of both genders.

Members of a selection committees should not have a bias in favour of one candidate prior to the start of the selection process. A perception of bias or lack of impartiality can be damaging to the selection process, and can undermine the successful candidate.

The members of the selection committee should have a reasonable level of:

There should be no change in the members of a selection committee once it has been been convened, except it may be reduced in size if there is genuine emergency or illness.

Selection committee members are responsible for:

Review Position Description

Before advertising the job vacancy, members of the selection panel should review the position description for the job. If there is not a position description available, one must be prepared before the selection process can continue.

The purpose of reviewing the position description is so that members of selection committee can:

There should always be a position description for applicants to review. This principle should also extend to voluntary positions.

For more information about position descriptions click here.


A job vacancy may be advertised in a variety of ways including:

The extent of the advertising is important.

If the selection process is "closed merit" then the position is advertised only to people within the organisation.

Receive Applications

Applications for employment must be treated with considerable diligence and respect. Failure to appropriately handle applications for a job can severely jeopardise someone's employment potential, and thereby cause annoyance, distress, financial hardship and career prospects.

Employment applications should be acknowledged as soon as possible, and filed in appropriate place to ensure none are missed.

The chairperson of the selection committee should review all incoming applications and attempt to determine a short list of candidates. If the number of incoming applications is very large, it may be necessary for the chairperson of the selection committee to obtain assistance from other staff.

In determining a short list, the chairperson of the selection committee should eliminate all candidates who have not provided all the necessary information, especially statements in reply to key selection criteria.

The next elimination should be those candidates whose skills, abilities and experience are insufficient to score well against the key selection criteria.

These eliminations can be carried out reasonably quickly.

The remaining applications will all warrant a closer examination and awarding of points for each key selection criteria. Then a number candidates with the highest points score are selected for the short list depending the available time and energy for interviewing.

Arrange Interviews

Each candidate should be personally notified by telephone. It is unadvisable to notify by email, as an email sent is not necessarily an email received. Notification by letter is better that email but not as good as telephoning.

The notification should contain:

Interviews are arranged for convenience of candidates and interviewers. The chairperson of the interview panel should endeavour to find a convenient time and date for the interviewee but this is not always possible. It is generally not feasible to call the interview panel together on more than one day.

Compile Interview Questions

Interview questions must relate to the key selection criteria.

Questions must be open ended and well-worded so as to cause the "interviewee" to describe their relevant work history and/or portray their knowledge.

One question may take the form of a "hypothetical". The purpose of such a question is to test the candidate "what would they do" in a certain situation. The "hypothetical" question adds significant pressure, and it evaluates the level of knowledge, experience and work-readiness of the candidate.

Generally there is only a need to formulate one question per key selection criteria. However, the interviewers should have a supplementary question ready to go if the candidate struggles to understand the question, or simply does not provide enough information. The supplementary question gives the candidate a second bite to divulge more information.

Conduct Interviews

Interview duration:

20 mins

not a serious duration for a career job

30 mins

barely enough time, risk of not keeping to schedule, rushed, insufficient time for note taking, decision making, too hard for interviewers.

40 mins

allows for 30 minutes of questions and 10 minutes change round time in which interviewers can write notes, discuss candidates and refresh themselves.

over 40 mins

durations between 40 mins and one hour are appropriate for middle management positions.

see also Tips for Interviewing

Select Successful Candidate

'Selection on merit' is a process of determining which job seeker has the skills, abilities and knowledge deemed to be most suitable for the job. In a merit based system, applicants effectively compete for a job. The written application, the selection interview and any testing of applicants is all part of the competition process.

If the selection process is said to be "Closed Merit", a vacant position will be advertised only within the organisation. Only applicants from within the organisation will be able to compete for the vacant position.

If the selection process is "Open Merit" then the vacant position is advertised widely by whatever means deemed to be suitable to attract a pool of applicants from outside the organisation. Generally, in an open merit selection process, vacant positions are advertised in the jobs section of a newspaper.

If jobs are awarded to individuals on the basis of friendship or relationship, then the selection process is not Merit Based. Similarly, if a position is awarded on seniority or plain proximity of an individual i.e. working in the same office as the person who previously held the position, then the selection process is also not merit based.

Check Referees

It is essential to follow through with checking the applicant's referees. Although referees may not make negative comments about the applicant, much can be gleaned from what they say (or do not say). Although referees have agreed to be called and questioned about the applicant, it would not be proper to keep them on the phone for more than five minutes unless the position is very senior. Therefore make sure you prepare your questions in advance of the telephone call.

Formally Notify

You will need to formally notify the successful and unsuccessful candidates as soon as possible. The successful candidate may already have undertaken other interviews and may receive other job offers. Furthermore, it is an important courtesy to formally notify unsuccessful candidates to enable them to carry on with the rest of their life.

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