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Recruiting Funnel


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Recruiting Funnel


A recruiting funnel is a term that refers to the stages of the recruitment process, from beginning to end. As qualified candidates are interviewed and begin working through the candidate journey, the recruiting funnel becomes more narrow until the candidate pool is down to one candidate. At that point, the candidate is selected, and an offer is made. 


A recruiting funnel can have between five and eight stages. The most common stages in the recruiting funnel are 1) awareness, 2) consideration/attraction, 3) application, 4) pre-screening, 5) interviewing, and 6) selection (offer/hire). 


1. Awareness


The first stage of the recruiting funnel is creating brand awareness and capturing the attention of qualified candidates. 


  • Networking can occur on social media or at in-person networking events. 

  • Companies that have optimized their brand have identified what makes them appealing and unique as employers. A brand story should be present in job descriptions, social media, and the company website. The company's brand story and messaging should resonate with ideal candidates. 

  • A robust social media presence helps establish a company's brand. Organizations can interact with candidates and use social media channels and profiles to showcase their values and personalities.


2. Consideration/Attraction


In the consideration/attraction stage, employers focus on promoting specific job openings at their company. At this stage, ongoing work starts in the recruiting funnel. 


  • Jobs posted on a variety of job boards increase the chances of attracting diverse employees. 

  • Recruitment advertisements and detailed job descriptions with inclusive language help employers attract top talent. 


3. Application


The application stage is when candidates with an interest begin the application process. Once candidates start applying, recruiters have candidates in their applicant tracking system (ATS) or recruitment management system (RMS). 


  • Filling out an application should take at most 10 minutes. 

  • Applications should be streamlined and straightforward. 

  • Mobile accessibility for applications will broaden the applicant pool. 

  • Applications need to flow seamlessly into a company's ATS or RMS. 


4. Pre-Screening


The pre-screen stage is where recruiters or hiring managers begin the process of flagging qualified candidates and making a shortlist of those candidates who will be moving forward in the recruitment process. 


  • Applicants are manually screened from the ATS or RMS, and top candidates are identified. 

  • Resumes are analyzed and compared at scale using the RMS or ATS with the job requirements defined in the job description. 

  • Lines of communication are kept open as candidates are informed where they are in the application process.

  • Candidates who are proactive in reaching out and connecting with the hiring manager are flagged.

  • Candidate selection occurs, and the qualified candidates move forward to the interview stage. 


5. Interviewing


First interviews are generally conducted with a hiring manager or primary stakeholder such as a supervisor. If the candidate proceeds to a second interview, that interview can be with senior management and/or other members of the team. 


  • Hiring teams should be diverse and accurately reflect the organization's diversity. 

  • Structured interviews ensure consistency and objectivity and reduce the possibility of bias. 

  • Collaborative hiring best practices can assess how well the candidate will fit with the rest of the team. 

  • The WHO Method for interviewing, where an interview scorecard is used, ensures that the candidates start on a level playing field. 


6. Selection


At this point in the recruiting funnel and process, the hiring team will be down to one or a few qualified candidates. It's time to choose one candidate and make an offer. 


  • A tailored offer is prepared for the candidate selected. 

  • Benefits and salary are negotiated. 




By establishing their brand, companies can ensure that they stay on the radar of the candidate pool. When a company posts an open position on job boards, candidates will become aware of the job opportunity and begin to apply. Candidates who make it to the interviewing stage but don't proceed to the selection stage can be added to the company's candidate pool for future consideration. 


Related Terms

Recruitment Funnel

is a term used interchangeably with recruiting funnel.

Recruiting Metrics

are data points and measurements used for analyzing and optimizing an organization's hiring process. Using recruiting metrics, recruiters and managers can track and measure the effectiveness of the company's hiring process. Recruiting metrics are sometimes called hiring metrics.

Recruitment Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

refer to performance measurements used by organizations to determine the impact that their recruiting process has on their company's success. Recruitment KPIs also measure the effectiveness of a recruiter or recruiting team.

Candidate Journey

refers to the seven stages or steps that candidates go through during the recruitment and hiring process: awareness, consideration, interest, application, selection, hiring, and onboarding.

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