Differences Between Recruiting and Selecting Employees

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 3, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021

Updated November 3, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

To attract the best talent, organizations spend time and effort on recruiting then selecting employees. While recruitment processes are essential to inform the right candidates of an opening, selection processes are equally important to identify the most qualified candidates. As a hiring manager, understanding the differences between recruiting and selecting candidates can help you prepare for both stages of the hiring process. In this article, we discuss the differences between recruitment and selection, identify the steps involved in recruiting employees, and outline the relevant steps when selecting candidates.

Differences between recruiting and selecting employees

Here are some of the major differences between recruiting and selecting employees for an organization:


While they're both parts of the hiring process, there are differences in their definition. Recruitment refers to the process of informing candidates about a job opening in an organization. It involves identifying potentially qualified candidates, informing them how to apply, and encouraging them to do so. In contrast, the selection process is how an organization picks the most qualified candidates from a pool of applicants. It involves taking candidates through various evaluation stages to determine those who best fit an organization's requirements and work culture. Recruitment always comes before the selection of candidates.


Recruitment and selection have the same goal of hiring the best employees yet play different roles in attaining that goal. The purpose of recruitment is to inform as many qualified candidates as possible about a job opening. Recruitment is a positive process that aims to reach more people through strategic advertisements of job postings. In contrast, the purpose of selection is to eliminate candidates until only the best options remain. It aims to identify and retain the most qualified and talented individuals from a group of candidates.

Related: Guide to the Process of Recruitment (With Tips)


Due to their different purposes, recruitment and selection use different methods. Recruiting employees is a generally simple process that involves understanding the role and advertising it to the right candidates. When conducting recruitment, HR personnel use job descriptions, candidate profiles, applicant tracking systems, and various marketing channels to publicize the job opening. Selection involves understanding candidates' knowledge, skills, and personality to determine if they're a good fit for the company. It involves methods like interviews, skill assessments, background checks, and document reviews.

Related: Recruiting Methods To Help Get the Best Job Candidates


Recruitment processes are usually more affordable than the selection process, as they only involve understanding the vacant role and advertising it. In addition, most social media and professional platforms are free or affordable, meaning hiring managers can advertise job postings at minimal cost to the organization. With selection processes, companies require both time and money. For example, assessment tests can require the organization to print booklets or subscribe to assessment software. Similarly, interviews usually take a long time and require some employees to suspend their duties.


Recruitment and selection have different difficulty levels both for the candidates and the human resources team. When recruiting employees, hiring managers hardly spend long periods on each of the processes. In contrast, selection involves a thorough evaluation of the candidates. Sometimes, it requires hiring managers to select between equally matched candidates requiring more scrutiny of their qualifications or long-term career goals. Similarly, candidates can expect the selection process to be more complex than recruitment. While recruitment involves applying for the job, selection involves various processes, like interviewing and elaborating on past experiences and skills.

Steps involved in recruiting employees

Here are five steps involved in recruiting employees:

1. Understand the vacant role

Understanding the vacant position and how it interacts with the organization's overall goals is essential to attracting the right candidates. Most organizations have employee manuals detailing the duties of each role which can provide essential insights. It also helps to speak to the department head where there's a vacancy to get a more personal understanding of the role. When studying the role, pay attention to work duties, interaction with other roles, skill requirements, and likely work tools.

2. Determine the method of application

The next step is to determine how candidates can apply for the role. The most common application form requires candidates to send a resume and cover letter to a work email. A resume is a one-page document summarizing a candidate's qualifications, while a cover letter is a one-page document where candidates discuss their interest in a role. Some organizations also use application forms where they collect relevant details about candidates. These forms can also require candidates to include a link to their resume or cover letter. Lastly, organizations sometimes adopt simple application tests.

3. Create a job description

The job description is one of the most vital aspects of the hiring process. It tells candidates the qualification requirements for the role and how to apply. In turn, creating an exhaustive job description is essential to reduce application errors which can hinder the hiring process. A good job description includes the qualification requirements, duties of the role, remuneration, and how to apply. The job description is also an opportunity to demonstrate the organization's corporate culture. You can write your job description in a conversational and friendly tone to communicate a casual corporate culture.

Related: How To Write a Job Description (With Template and Example)

4. Advertise the job posting

The effective advertisement of a job posting determines the number and quality of candidates that apply for a role. To advertise the role, organizations can develop a qualified candidate profile, then aim for media channels that are likely to reach them. For example, a technology company can advertise its posting on a technology-focused website. Ensure your job posting is catchy and contains relevant details like the role's name, company, and essential requirements. Other advertising channels include social media, job sites, employee referrals, and employment conferences.

5. Consider an applicant tracking system

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that automates most parts of the recruitment process. For example, it allows hiring managers to share job postings to various sites with a single link. Other advantages of the ATS are sorting data of candidates, screening undesirable applications, communicating with candidates, and presenting candidate data in simple formats. The best part of this software is that organizations can program it to suit their unique needs. Applicant tracking systems are essential for organizations that receive large amounts of applications.


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5 steps involved in the selection process

Here are some of the steps involved in the selection process:

1. Review candidate resumes and cover letters

Usually, the first step in a selection process is screening out the first set of applicants. This typically involves reviewing the resumes and cover letters the candidates submitted. There are many ways to review resumes and cover letters, depending on the needs of the organization. For example, many organizations make use of an ATS to screen unqualified candidates automatically. The ATS does this by comparing the candidate's resume to the job description and searching for relevant keywords. After this, human resources personnel can go through the resumes and rank them based on their qualifications.

2. Conduct assessment tests

Another common aspect of selection processes is assessment tests, though some organizations don't use them. Assessment tests are an effective way to determine if candidates meet certain requirements for the role. A major advantage of these tests is that they allow employers to confirm a candidate's abilities rather than rely on their word. The appropriate assessment tests depend on the role. Common assessment tests are medical tests, physical fitness tests, aptitude tests, and skill tests. Companies can organize these tests themselves or contract them to third-party organizations that specialize in administering them.

Related: Skill Assessment Tests: What You Need to Know

3. Conduct interviews for candidates

Interviews are formal conversations between a company and a potential employee. Most organizations use interviews in their hiring process due to the insight they provide into a candidate's abilities. For example, interviews allow companies to inquire about a candidate's resume qualifications and confirm its authenticity. Similarly, employers can ask questions about a candidate's personality to determine if they fit into the organization's work culture. Another advantage of interviews is that they allow companies to assess traits like confidence, articulation, and composure. Interviews are also great for testing a candidate's knowledge as they answer questions immediately.

Related: Top Interviewer Skills for an Efficient Interview Process

4. Complete background checks

Background and security checks are essential for ascertaining that recruits aren't a risk to the company. They can vary from basic checks to more thorough scrutiny for organizations with a lot of data to protect. For example, background checks can involve scrutinizing references, social media accounts, finances, travel history, criminal records, and home addresses. Employers such as the military or press companies that deal with sensitive information usually have extensive background check procedures.

5. Onboard successful candidates

Onboarding is the process of easing recruits into their roles. Effective onboarding is essential for high productivity and employee retention. Onboarding is also essential for helping recruits socialize and build relationships with their colleagues. Examples of items in a good onboarding plan include showing recruits office facilities and equipment, informing them of office rules, introducing them to their team members, and showing them their workspace.

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