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The secret to hiring great people: Designing a recruitment funnel that works


As a business owner or hiring manager, finding the right candidates to fill your open roles can be a daunting task. 

With so many resumes to review and interviews to conduct, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make hasty decisions. However, the key to hiring great people lies in designing a recruitment funnel that works for your company. Essentially, this enables you to create a hiring process that is gradual, efficient, and well-structured.

A recruitment funnel is your organization’s step-by-step process to attract, evaluate, and hire top talent. Similar to a sales funnel, a recruitment funnel starts with a broad pool of candidates and narrows down the list until you find the best fit for your company. 

This method enables organizations to identify the skills, traits, and experience they want from their future employees. Once identified, companies can create an outreach recruitment strategy to attract them. 

A funnel should be a part of your recruitment-tool arsenal to make your hiring process more efficient. It’s a great way to eliminate hiring bias and give everyone an equal chance, based on merit.

In this article, we’ll review the seven stages of a recruitment funnel and discuss the metrics you should have in mind when evaluating its effectiveness. At the end of this article, you’ll also find a recruitment funnel template that you can start using today. 

But first, let’s explore what a recruitment funnel is and why it’s important.

What is a recruitment funnel? 

A recruitment funnel is a representation of the entire hiring process, from writing job descriptions to hiring new employees. Recruitment funnels help hiring managers visualize each step of the process.

Ideally, the structure of a recruitment funnel starts with attracting as many candidates as possible before narrowing them down. At the top of the funnel is the application process, and at the base is the new hire.

A recruitment funnel template breaks down the hiring process, enabling you to track your progress. It can also help you monitor which parts of your recruitment you spend more time and resources on.

Typically, the model of a recruitment funnel is not to retain your candidates but to whittle them down until you identify those fit for the job. That’s why we call it a recruitment “funnel.”

To understand what recruitment funnels are, it’s useful to compare them to sales funnels. 

When it comes to sales and marketing, funnels are used to nurture potential clients into paying customers. The funnel is a representation of the customer journey, as each customer goes through several stages until they opt to buy. 

Here are the four stages in a sales funnel:

  • Awareness: This is where most of your customers will begin. They are aware of a problem they have and are on the lookout for a solution. A marketing campaign might present them with a business that can help them with their problem.

  • Interaction: At this stage, the customer base decreases, but the chances of conversion increase. Customers will start interacting with the business to find out how it can solve their problem. 

  • Interest: To generate interest, the business can make an offer to the customer that includes pricing and a solution. 

  • Action: The final stage is where the customer decides to buy. If the offer is too good to miss, they’ll make the purchase. If they’re hesitant but still interested, the business can offer additional benefits to make the offer more appealing. 

These are the four essential steps in a sales funnel used by companies to maximize their chances of making sales. And the recruitment funnel has a similar process. 

In a recruitment funnel, you have seven stages in total, which we’ll go over further below. The main idea is to move potential hires through each stage until you end up with the best talent for your organization. 

The recruitment funnel ensures you consider all prospects and helps you avoid bad hires while saving time and resources. It’s a great way to optimize your hiring process

The main goals of a recruitment funnel are to: 

  • Nurture talented prospects

  • Eliminate unqualified candidates 

  • Improve your hiring process

  • Provide consistency for all applicants through the hiring process 

The importance of a recruitment funnel 

Recruitment can be done without thinking of an actual funnel. However, you’ll be using a recruitment funnel in any hiring process, maybe without even knowing it. 

But without a clear recruitment funnel strategy, where you’ve thought carefully about the whole process, you’ll probably miss out on some great candidates who for one reason or another dropped out early on in the hiring process. 

Essentially, recruitment funnels help you track your hiring process. The results at the end of the funnel tell you how effective the entire process is.

Ultimately, a recruitment funnel can help bolster your company’s success. Your employees are the present and future of your business. Thus, employing great people using a recruitment funnel helps steer your business toward success.

By crafting a clear strategy for your recruitment funnel, with a detailed plan for each stage of the recruitment process, you’re bound to make your hiring more efficient, simplifying your task of finding top talent. The best bit is that there are no downsides to thinking about hiring through a funnel. 

The benefits of using a recruitment funnel can be summarized as follows: 

  • You make each phase of recruiting more efficient, from outreach to hiring

  • You save time and resources 

  • You avoid hiring bias

  • You can focus on top-level applicants 

  • You have less admin

By using a recruitment funnel, you can utilize pre-employment assessment methods in the first stages of the funnel, which enables you to sift through unskilled candidates.

TestGorilla offers a comprehensive test library that you can use to see who has the right skills and experience, moving them down the funnel stages.

The 7 stages of a recruitment funnel 

The 7 stages of a recruitment funnel 

The recruitment funnel has seven stages in total, making it more elaborate than the four stages of a sales funnel. Each stage helps you ensure you only get the best candidates at the end of the funnel – i.e., the ones you want to hire. 

The seven stages are as follows: 


The first stage of the recruitment funnel is to build your brand’s awareness

At this stage candidates are not actively looking for a job, so your focus should be to raise awareness of your company and communicate the benefits of working there. You can do this through social media, attending job fairs, and having an optimized “work with us” page on your website. 

In addition, you can collect real testimonials of current employees who enjoy working for you. Shooting a video of an employee’s day at the office is an excellent way to present your business to potential hires. 

Ultimately, as jobseekers scroll through hundreds of company profiles, you want yours to stand out. When someone sees your logo you want them to automatically think it’s a great place to work. 

That should be the main focus of your recruitment funnel at the awareness stage. 


Once you’ve built up your brand’s awareness, it’s time to start attracting candidates with an engaging job ad

The job ad should include important information about the role you’re advertising and what makes your company an attractive place to work. 

The attraction stage is a key stage of the recruitment funnel because it shapes the quality of your talent pool. How you draft your job description and where you post it determines how qualified your candidates will be.

Here are some tips to make your advertisement stand out: 

  • Don’t copy and paste old ads: Invest the time to create a new job ad that’s succinct and focused on the new role.

  • Add the perks of the job at the very top: Many companies like to rant about themselves first – but one of the first things everyone wants to know is what they’ll get if they are offered the position. This should include remuneration, flexibility options, company culture and values, and bonuses like dental or the ability to park near the office. 

  • Use clear language: Avoid jargon and terminology, which could make you look stuck up and might even drive candidates away. 

  • Post the salary range: Many employers love to keep their salary range a secret, despite it being the biggest factor for applicants. Don’t be like other employers that make the recruitment process more difficult than it needs to be. 

  • Make the position attractive for remote work: If possible, the position you’re advertising should have the possibility to be done remotely. That way, your talent pool widens significantly as you can target candidates outside your immediate proximity. 

Once you’ve prepared your job ad, post it online. Use your social media, LinkedIn, website, and online job boards to share as widely as possible. The more places you post it, the greater the chances you’ll find top talent. 


The third stage of the recruitment funnel is the first one in which candidates start taking action. 

Applicants will start researching your company as a potential employer and you might receive questions about the role. You should be as responsive as possible and address any concerns. 

In addition, you can be proactive by investigating what people might find about you on the internet. Do a Google search of your company and be on the lookout for any negative reviews or complaints that may drive candidates away. Address these issues immediately to strengthen your reputation as an employer. 

You can also create a FAQ fact sheet or invest in a chatbot, so applicants can easily locate the answers to basic questions. You might see candidates leave your recruitment funnel if they can’t get hold of you or are unable to find the answer to a question, so make sure to keep their interest alive. 


If your candidates have made it this far in the application process, congratulations – your recruitment funnel is working! However, this stage can make or break your funnel. 

If your application process is too lengthy and complicated, you’ll see a massive dropout rate in applications. Recruiter.com found out that only 10.6% of people complete an application with up to 25 questions, and that percentage only goes down if you have even more questions. 

With that in mind, you should make your application process hassle-free:

  • Don’t ask a ton of questions

  • Optimize the application process for mobile

  • Avoid complex language

  • Do the application yourself and look for any drawbacks

Finally, ensure you keep candidates informed about their progress. Use an automated response system that confirms someone’s application has been received and thanks them for their time. You want to build rapport with the applicants, showing that you care and they are not just another number in your funnel. 

In short, it’s paramount that you put candidates’ experiences first when designing your application process.

Pre-employment screening

Once you have your applications in, it’s time for the pre-employment screening process

Resumes won’t tell you much about a candidate’s skills and experience, so you need to put them to the test. TestGorilla’s array of skills tests helps you sift through the unqualified candidates who reach this stage of the recruitment funnel. 

Pre-employment assessments not only identify the most suitable candidates – they also save you time and resources, so you can focus on the top-level applicants only.

Apart from testing their skills, you might want to opt for behavior testing, too. Adding the 16 Personalities test or the Big 5 (OCEAN) test will give you insights into a candidate’s worldview to help you make a more informed decision before inviting them for an interview. 


After you’ve done your pre-employment screening, you’re ready to conduct interviews

Use the results of the skills testing to guide your interviewing process. Look for weaknesses in your candidates and ask them how they think they’ll improve in those areas. 

Get to know your candidates and consider not only if they fit the role based on their merits but also if they’ll fit into your team. Determine if they can add to your company’s culture and truly provide extra value. 

In addition, you must make the effort to avoid interviewing bias. Creating a standardized interviewing process will give everyone an equal chance. Make sure to include competence-based and behavioral questions, where everyone can answer on the same footing. 

Using a standardized process will help you make the best hiring decisions. 


The final stage of the hiring funnel is where you extend your offer.

Run background checks – and once everything seems in order, send the candidate a compelling offer. Don’t hesitate to mention why they impressed you or emphasize why you want them at your company. Even if someone has reached this far, they might be considering other employers so it’s important they feel welcomed and wanted by you.  

Once they accept the offer, start your onboarding process to keep them engaged and happy with their decision. 

Evaluate and improve (bonus stage)

The bonus stage of the recruitment funnel is to continually evaluate and improve it. 

See what works and what doesn’t by collecting feedback from candidates. You can do a short survey, which you could even send to applicants who dropped off at earlier stages of the funnel. 

Even though your chances of getting a response might be small, whoever replies will help you improve the process. 

How do you know if your recruitment funnel works?

To assess how effective your recruitment funnel is, there are some key factors to consider, including measuring the quality of the candidates you hire and checking the length of recruitment.

Below are a few methods to help you make sure your recruitment funnel works:

  • Examine the quality of your hires

  • Check the length of your recruitment process

  • Evaluate the quality of your new employees’ experience

  • Check if any new employees resign soon after starting the post

  • Examine skill gaps after the recruitment

To achieve this, there are a few key metrics you should track.

Key recruitment-funnel metrics to track

Now you know what a recruitment funnel is and what you should include in it, you need to be able to measure its effectiveness. Here are several metrics you can monitor. 

Brand awareness

The brand awareness metric will identify how many people know about your organization and how many candidates apply for an open position. 

You can ask yourself these questions:

  • How many followers do you have on social media? 

  • How many people engage with your content?

  • What’s the daily traffic through your website? 

Higher numbers would indicate greater brand awareness. 

Apart from knowing the numbers, you can also conduct online surveys and focus groups. Depending on your time and resources, you can use these methods to gather feedback and determine how well-known your brand actually is. 

Quality of hire

While you’ll probably get a lot of applications for a position, you should prioritize quality over quantity. So you have to look at more than just the total number of applicants: 

  • How many people apply for a given position?

  • What’s the difference between internal, external, and referral applicants? 

  • How many hits and conversions did you get on your website and job board? 

By understanding what type of people apply for a position, you can refine your criteria further and get even better applicants

Offer acceptance rate

The offer acceptance rate is an easy metric to follow. 

Look at how many offers you extend and how many get accepted. If you make an offer to ten candidates and seven accept, you have a 70% acceptance rate. 

A higher offer acceptance rate would indicate that your offers are compelling and people want to work for your company. Lower acceptance rates may show that you need to improve your offers by adding more benefits or raising the remuneration. 


Diversity in the workplace has numerous benefits for an organization, including improved problem-solving, greater innovation, and higher productivity.

You can measure your diversity by taking the total number of employees at your organization and analyzing the breakdown in terms of sex, gender, race, religion, age, ethnicity, culture, personal traits, and any other category you think relevant.

If you’re looking to diversify your workforce, these percentages will give you a clear indication of who to hire next. 

Time to hire 

The time it takes to hire a new employee is a key recruitment metric. 

If it takes weeks or months to hire someone, this could be an indicator of a bottleneck at some stage in your funnel recruitment, which needs to be addressed.

Look at where people get stuck the longest and try to improve that stage of the process to make it more efficient in the future. 

Cost per hire

Your cost per hire is another important factor to bear in mind.

You may be spending hundreds of dollars on advertisements and not getting many leads, which would indicate the position may not be good enough or the ad is written poorly. Or, if your brand is not popular enough, you won’t get many leads because no one knows you. 

Tracking your cost per hire can show you what works and where you need to allocate more resources to make the funnel more efficient. 

Standardize and monitor 

If you track these metrics regularly, you will have all the necessary data to create a better recruitment funnel that brings top talent to your organization.

By using talent acquisition metrics you’ll also avoid bad hires and save time and resources in the long run. 

Recruitment funnel template

Looking for a recruitment funnel template? 

We’ve prepared one for you below.

example of a recruitment funnel
  • Awareness: Build a strong employer branding – All prospective employees

  • Attraction: Create a job ad that stands out and advertise it to potential hires – 400 potential candidates see your ad

  • Interest: Provide information and social proof to build interest – 150 potential candidates are interested 

  • Application: Create a hassle-free application process – 120 candidates apply

  • Skills testing: Use TestGorilla’s tools to prescreen your candidates – 100 candidates complete tests

  • Interview: Invite the best candidates to an interview – 8 candidates are invited to an interview

  • Hiring: Select the perfect match – 1 job offer

Create a recruitment funnel that works with TestGorilla 

A recruitment funnel is a hiring method that allows you to source, screen, and employ top-level talent. As a recruiter, that should be your number one priority. 

The recruitment funnel will not only allow you to find the best candidates but will also help you avoid bad hires and give you insights into how well-known and desirable your organization is.

You should follow each stage of the recruitment funnel methodically to see what works and what doesn’t by measuring its effectiveness. 

And one of the most important stages of the recruitment funnel is the pre-employment screening stage, where you distinguish between qualified and unqualified candidates. For this, you can use TestGorilla’s pre-employment tests to ensure you’re left with the best applicants. 

Get started today with your free TestGorilla plan or sign up for a free 30-minute live demo with one of our consultants today. Make the most out of your recruitment funnel with TestGorilla.


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