Understanding the Full Recruitment Funnel

A recruitment funnel can be a valuable framework for recruiting teams to track the different stages of their hiring process, from brand awareness through making an offer. Optimising each stage of the funnel – and finding the right metrics to track – can lead to better quality hires and more efficient talent acquisition processes. 

This guide will help you understand the full recruitment funnel and how to implement it in your own organisation.

Key Facts:

  • A recruitment funnel is a framework HR teams use to track how they narrow a field of job candidates down to the ideal employee. 

  • The stages of the funnel are awareness, attraction, interest, applying, evaluating, interviewing and Hiring, each of which comes with its own best practices for HR teams.

  • Finding the right metrics to track can help teams measure success at each stage and spot opportunities for improvement.

Personio offers an intuitive and reliable reporting and analytics dashboard. Take a look.

What Is a Recruitment Funnel?

A recruitment funnel helps visualise the progression an organisation goes through when selecting the best candidates for a job. The process starts with understanding an organisation’s needs for any given role, capturing as many applicants as possible, and slowly narrowing that pool of applicants.

The purpose of the recruitment funnel is to help recruiting teams think strategically about how they attract candidates. The overarching goal of using the funnel is to ensure effort is spread efficiently across the various stages, setting the organisation up with a talent pipeline that delivers quality candidates.

Create a great candidate experience

Applicant Tracking Applicant Tracking System Overview

Organise applications, plan interviews and quickly evaluate candidates. Manage your entire hiring process with one tool with Personio.

The 7 Stages of the Recruitment Funnel

The recruitment funnel (sometimes also called the hiring funnel) is typically divided into seven stages, each with its own purpose and set of best practices:

  1. Awareness – Building awareness of your organisation or brand among candidates.

  2. Attraction – Guiding an aware candidate toward a specific job opening.

  3. Interest – Enabling candidates to learn more about a specific job opportunity.

  4. Applying – The candidate initiates the process and completes the job application.

  5. Evaluating – Screening candidates and evaluating their qualifications to rank or shortlist them.

  6. Interviewing – Holding an in-person, phone or video conversation with the candidate.

  7. Hiring – The formal job offer is extended, the candidate accepts the offer and the onboarding process commences. 

Let's take a look at each stage in more detail.


Building brand awareness is the first step in the recruitment funnel to build a pool of potential employees. This lets potential candidates know about your business – many of whom may not have heard of your organisation or its goals, values and mission yet – and may increase their interest in working for you. 

This is a crucial way to start off the recruitment process, as research from LinkedIn shows that 75% of those looking for a job consider an employer's brand before applying.

Best practices for People teams:

  • Reputation evaluation: Research the current state of your employer brand and see what people are saying about your organisation and what it’s like to work for you.

  • Work cross-functionally: Collaborate with other teams like marketing to build brand awareness campaigns that showcase the employee experience at your company.

  • Find the right channels: To make sure you reach the right people, research where your ideal candidates are most active (e.g. LinkedIn vs. Glassdoor vs. Indeed or other social media).


The attraction stage of the recruitment process is the first narrowing of the funnel, and it will already cut down the pool of candidates quite a lot. 

Not everyone who is aware of your organisation will end up applying for one of your roles, but you should aim to make that group as big as possible with talent attraction techniques.

The main activities in the attraction stage include job descriptions, recruitment advertisements, outreach campaigns and other creative methods to attract applicants. All of these activities can be spread across channels, from your own career page on the website to social media and job boards.

Best practices for People teams:

  • Invest the time in great job descriptions: The descriptions of your open roles shouldn’t just be thrown together. You want the ideal candidate to quickly understand the roles and responsibilities they would have in the job, without any unnecessary jargon or fluff. And don’t forget to optimise the title for online searches!

  • Promote outreach from internal employees: Employee referrals can be hugely helpful to find qualified candidates. Consider offering referral bonuses for employees who help you find an eventual hire. You can also encourage hiring managers to reach out to candidates directly rather than waiting for people to apply.


Now comes the stages where candidates are more active. Once they’ve been attracted to your organisation, the interest phase involves potential candidates learning about your company and what you offer through active research. 

Where do they find this information? According to LinkedIn, over half (53%) look at the company’s website, while 38% look at LinkedIn and 32% talk to their own contacts at the business.

Best practices for People teams:

  • Optimise online presence: Make sure your organisation’s digital footprint and overall employer brand is optimised across any channels where you have control (e.g. website and social media profiles). Applicants shouldn’t be able to stumble upon anything outdated or a resource that’s no longer kept up to date.

  • Prioritise information access: The last thing you want is for a qualified candidate to be interested in applying to your job, but to not follow through because they couldn’t find an answer to their question. Ensure candidates can easily access the information they need, whether through an FAQ page, question submission form, chatbot or videos explaining key topics.


So, your candidate made it to the applying stage of the recruitment funnel, when they actually fill out the application and send in their resume or CV. That’s great news, but the risk of drop-off isn’t over yet. 

It is a constant challenge for talent teams to get candidates past this phase – in fact, the average job application completion rate is only 10.6%. If an application is too extensive and asks more than 50 questions, only 5.7% of people will actually complete it.

Best practices for People teams:

  • Keep it brief: Or at least as brief as possible. If the online application process for your job is too difficult or takes too long, you’ll start to lose candidates. Narrow in on the most important questions and qualifications and try to keep it simple (while still getting the information you need).

  • Communicate clearly: Frequent and early communication with candidates on what to expect during the application process will help keep them engaged and invested. Never “ghost” a candidate!

  • Complete the application internally: Sometimes, the best way to spot friction in the candidate experience is to experience it yourself. Look out for tricky questions, confusing language and spots that make people want to drop off.

  • Optimise for mobile: Don’t forget the different devices your application may be completed on. The number of applications submitted on mobile devices surpassed desktop in 2020.


Once you have your pool of applicants, it’s time to evaluate each person’s experience, skills and knowledge in greater detail. Depending on how many applications you received, this can present a huge challenge for the talent team who may not have the time or resources to comb through each one individually. 

An applicant tracking system (ATS) can help the team collect and evaluate applicants at scale.

Cut your time-to-hire in half with Personio’s Applicant Tracking System.

There are additional evaluation methods to help narrow the applicant pool, including tests to evaluate skill levels, soft skills, job knowledge, integrity tests and more. 

Best practices for People teams:

  • Use pre-screening tools: Your ATS along with manual screening can help narrow down the group of candidates that meet your role requirements.

  • Account for bias: This stage of the recruitment funnel presents huge risks for unconscious bias, whether evaluation is being performed by a human or program of some kind. There are a variety of strategies to avoid bias, such as blind hiring, merit-based skills tests, a diverse hiring team and ensuring bias is not introduced when training recruitment AI.

  • Assign homework: One way to evaluate candidates is through an at-home assignment which they can complete before an interview. This can show hiring managers how the candidate might perform on the job, and also equalise across different personality types (i.e. since some highly qualified applicants don’t interview well).


After narrowing down to a shortlist of applicants, you can start conducting interviews. Only the best candidates will make it this far down the funnel.

In the past, interviews may have been conducted mostly in person by the hiring manager or panel, but video interviews have become extremely common in recent years. Three rounds of interviews is the typical benchmark, but this differs by factors like job seniority and technicality.

Best practices for People teams:

  • Help candidates prepare: Set your interviewees up for success by letting them know what to expect and how they can prepare.

  • Give feedback quickly: After the interview, promptly provide feedback to the candidate and let them know next steps (if any).

  • Don’t string people along: If you know after an interview round that a candidate is not the right fit, don’t invite them to the next round of interviews. It’s a waste of both your time and theirs.


Congratulations on making it to the bottom of the recruitment funnel! Now it’s time to make a formal job offer to the best candidate for the role. Depending on the person, it's likely your top candidate(s) may be evaluating other offers at the same time.

How can you increase the probability that the candidate will accept your offer and not another company’s? Below are some ways HR and People teams can have an impact

Best practices for People teams:

  • Seek to understand: Learn about their goals, motivations and career goals for the next few years.

  • Align benefit expectations: Ask about which benefits they expect in a job and ensure they understand what you offer (also beyond compensation).

  • Tell a story: Paint a picture of what it will be like to work at your company. Make them feel like they would be a part of something bigger.

  • Highlight opportunities for growth: Outline the progression they could make through the organisation, as well as training, mentorship and other growth opportunities that will be available to them should they accept.

Which Metrics Are Important to Monitor Each Stage of the Recruitment Funnel?

In order to effectively utilise the recruitment funnel framework, you’ll need to measure metrics at each stage to gauge success and improvement over time. Here are some of the most important metrics for each stage:

1) Awareness

Company website views and clicks

Social media followers

Views on external sites like Glassdoor

2) Attraction

Career page views and conversion rate

Job board views and conversion rate

Employee referrals

3) Interest

Number of applicants per open position

Number of external applicants

Number of internal applicants

Applicants per channel

4) Applying

Number of people who start but don’t finish a job application

Number of completed job applications

Time to complete application

5) Evaluating

Proportion of applicants that meet job requirements

Proportion of applicants that pass any tests given

6) Interviewing

Proportion of candidates that move on to each interview round

Number of interview rounds needed

Correlation of evaluations among interviewers

7) Hiring

Cost per hire

Time to hire

Quality of hire

Source of hire

Number of offers extended

Proportion of offers accepted (conversions)

Proportion of candidates who negotiate 

Frequently Asked Questions About Human Resource Flow

What is a Recruitment Funnel?

A recruitment funnel is a model that HR teams use to visualise the hiring process from awareness of the company to hiring the ideal candidate.

Why Is a Hiring Funnel Important?

Having a clear understanding of your hiring funnel is important because it enables you to optimise each stage to meet business needs and end up with the most qualified candidates. Analysing your processes and outcomes at each stage can help you design a better candidate experience, prevent the best applicants from dropping off and fill roles more efficiently.

What Are the 7 Stages of the Recruitment Funnel?

The seven stages of the recruitment funnel are Awareness, Attraction, Interest, Applying, Evaluating, Interviewing and Hiring.

How Do I Create a Recruitment Funnel?

Here are some steps to create a recruitment funnel for your organisation:

  1. Write down the steps of your funnel – These could differ from the ones listed above depending on your needs.

  2. Choose metrics for each step – See the metric section above for help with this.

  3. Align with all stakeholders – Make sure you have buy-in for the funnel framework for everyone involved in the hiring process.

  4. Use the funnel! – Start applying the funnel in your recruiting efforts and analyse each stage to optimise tools and processes.

Optimise Your Recruitment Funnel with Personio’s Applicant Tracking System

For every stage of the recruitment and hiring funnel, Personio can help. Source candidates, centralise their information, evaluate their qualification, move them through the interview process and make offers – all within Personio’s ATS. Our platform has a suite of features that make recruitment easier and help you find higher quality hires.

Book a demo here.

Source, Track & Hire – All in One.

Applicant Tracking System Overview