You Have The Applicants--What Comes Next?

Many recruiters believe that obtaining eligible applicants is the most challenging step of the recruitment process. While it can be difficult, it's only the start of a crucial business exercise. It's essential that recruiters maintain the same level of effort and determination in the recruitment process, even after applicants have been found. In fact, many experts view recruitment as a seven-step process...and obtaining applicants is only step two. 

Successful smiling young male job applicant holding a blue file with his curriculum vitae posing in front of his new work colleagues or business team

Why Does Recruitment Matter? 

The recruitment process is vital for businesses to obtain qualified candidates. Especially today, in an applicant's market, it's essential that employers optimize their recruiting strategies. As so many businesses are in search of qualified candidates, they must optimize their recruitment process to appeal to prospective employees. 

To do so, they must ensure that their entire recruitment process, from start to finish, is running at peak efficiency. Not only is it important to optimize this process in order to obtain the best possible candidates, but also to enhance the candidate experience as a whole.

 When one considers the recruitment process, they often only think about recruiting candidates - as in getting them to apply to your company. In reality, the recruitment process is a much more thorough exercise, where actual recruitment is only step two of seven. So, to ensure that you are implementing a complete and robust recruitment process, you must understand and undergo all seven steps. 

  • Define Your Ideal Candidate
  • Source and Attract Talent
  • Convert Applicants to Candidates
  • Screen Candidates
  • Interview
  • Reference Check
  • Onboarding

The Process So Far

If you have already obtained applications to an available role, you are in the second step of the recruitment process: source and attract talent. Prior to this step was defining your ideal candidate, in which, as an employer, you identify what the “perfect” candidate would be. This step will be critical in the screening phase later on, but for now, it helps you to understand what qualities to look for in a prospective candidate. 

Following this is where you attract your current applicants, which is where the candidate experience begins. The most crucial aspect of this step is communication between recruiters and applicants. As an applicant, it can be extremely frustrating to wait for recruiters to respond or not get a response at all and can turn an applicant off of your company. For this reason, it is vital that you communicate with applications promptly, whether sending your regrets or preparing for the next step. 

Many recruiters utilize recruitment automation tools to optimize this process, ensuring that applicants have a seamless experience at the beginning of the recruitment process. Such tools are instrumental in facilitating quick responses and notifying applicants of any decisions or scheduling notifications. Once you begin receiving applications, it is time to move on to the rest of the recruitment process. 

The Next Steps

Let's take a look at the rest of the recruitment process.

Converting Applicants to Candidates

The third step in the recruitment process is converting applicants to candidates. While it may seem as though applicants are the same as candidates, there is a difference between the two. Applicants can be anyone that applies to work at your company. Alternatively, candidates are prospective employees with strong hiring potential, likely to move on to the interview process. 

The number of applicants converted to candidates is determined by how many applicants move from one step to the next. Evaluating this helps employees refine the recruitment process, as it helps determine if there is a problem early on. If too many applicants fallout in the process before the screening and interview stages, there may be an issue. It can also help to monitor the click-through rates on your job posting, measuring how many people click on the posting versus how many people apply. 

Screen Candidates

With a clear set of applicants, it is time to begin screening your candidates. This step is critical, as it determines which candidates will be moving forward to the interview phase of the recruitment process. When screening candidates, it is important to be diverse in your selections and set expectations. 

During this step, it can help to refer back to the ideal candidate you defined in step one and compare your actual candidates to the profile you created - but remember, no candidate will perfectly match your “ideal.”

Instead, consider a list of must-have qualities, such as experience and education, and nice-to-have qualities, that are preferred but not required. Utilizing an automated pre-screening tool can help to accelerate this process, ensuring that candidates receive a timely response - especially if moving on to the next step: the interview stage. 


Once candidates have been screened, it is time to begin scheduling and conducting interviews. An essential aspect of this process is scheduling for convenience and efficiency. Most candidates you will be interviewing are likely also scheduling interviews with other companies. For this reason, it is critical to schedule interviews in a timely manner and find times that are convenient for your candidates. 

Calendar applications can help recruiters balance scheduling conflicts, especially if several interviews are involved in the process. This can help both parties easily match availability and accelerate the scheduling process, thus ensuring that all candidates can be met. Offering slots during lunchtime or around typical working hours can also be beneficial to those currently employed.

Reference Check

Once a candidate has completed the interview process and is a top contender for the position, it is a good idea to run a reference check. This practice can be highly helpful in deciding between several qualified candidates, in addition to verifying their skills and experience. 

It is important during this stage to be patient and not dismiss any potential candidates until a candidate has accepted an offer with all conditions met and a start date agreed upon. If not, you run the risk of one candidate changing their mind or failing pre-employment testing. 

If that’s the case, you have lost excellent backup candidates by preemptively rejecting other candidates, as it is very difficult to bring back a candidate once dismissed. Instead, keep in touch with potential candidates during the reference check process and let them know they are still under consideration until a new hire is confirmed.


The final step of the recruitment process is onboarding. Once a candidate has accepted an offer and converted to a new hire, it is time to start onboarding them into their position in your company. This step will be unique to every organization, but it is critical to a smooth transition.

A strong onboarding program should involve training and mentorship and provide new employees with adequate information and resources. This is essential in making new hires feel welcomed in your company and significantly contributes to team member retention and job satisfaction in the long run. 

Efficient Recruitment is Key to Company Growth

The recruitment process is often overlooked as a routine and tedious process when in reality, it is an essential business function. Recruiting and obtaining new talent in your company is the key to growth and future success. The candidate experience in your recruitment process can essentially make or break your company in terms of future hiring efforts. For this reason, it is vital that your recruitment process is efficient and carefully thought out. 

By thoughtfully conducting the seven steps of the recruitment process, you can ensure that candidates view your company positively from the first interaction. As a result, candidates will be excited to work with your organization, whether they receive the job now or choose to apply again in the future. With the right recruitment tools and an optimized recruitment process, your organization can acquire competitive talent with ease.

Ready to learn more about using HubSpot for recruitment automation and candidate tracking? Let's chat!

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Nicole is a copywriter turned content manager, experienced in all things writing and editing. Based in Brooklyn, NY, she is always on the hunt for the best New York-style pizza, in addition to being an avid reader, traveler, and yogi.

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